So here we are.
I have always been a very good girl. Painfully square, if you will. My two shoes are many things, but mostly goody.
This occasionally irks me as I age into a period of uncertainty, as I realize that life has no guarantees. The ax of crap may fall on any of us, whether or not we kept curfew, studied hard, or didn’t inhale. And I wonder if I could have been having a lot more fun all this time. People get away with murder. Literally, figuratively... bad guys often win. Folks are camping out in Zuccotti Park right now because the bad guys won. So why not flirt with danger?
Well, Joe Law squelched that thought, sister.
Yeah. I had me a run-in. You heard me. I’m bad, baby. Bad. Sha’mon.
Wanna know what I did? I bet you do. Oh, it was bad. I took the light rail from Hoboken to Hoboken. (It was a very short trip.) And I bought a ticket at the machine. Adult. One-way. Full price. And the train was getting ready to depart. And I ran for it. And I made it.
And as I was on the train, I realized that in my haste and morning fog, I hadn’t validated the ticket by time-stamping it in the other machine (the machine next to the ticket machine). But I felt okay. I’d taken the light rail twice before, and no one had ever asked to see my validated ticket.
And for a brief moment, the cartoon devil on my shoulder danced for the first time. Because I’d Stuck It To The Man. I suddenly realized I could feasibly use my pristine, unstamped ticket for a return trip. Wow. I could save a whopping $2.10. Ooooh. I could buy a Coke Zero! So this is what rebellion tasted like... the promise of Coke Zero.
Up until this moment, my Sticking It To The Man had only entailed creating a round-trip-for-the-price-of-one-way by using my (totally legal) free transfer from the subway to the bus. (Granted, this sticking involved walking a lot of extra blocks to get to a transferrable bus within two hours of the start of my trip, but hey.) Or when my husband discovered many years ago that instead of buying a Big Mac for three dollars, he could get two Mac Juniors from the dollar menu, effectively Sticking It To The Man. (He later realized that with his 20 shares of McDonald’s stock, he was The Man and was ultimately sticking it to himself.)
But The Man does not want to be stuck to.
I exited the train, and there they were. The fuzz. The train fuzz. Asking to see my ticket. The ticket I had just bought with real money at a machine that showed which day/time I had bought it, but had not stuck into a different machine to stamp so it would show which day/time I stamped it. And when I pulled out this non-validated transit paper, out came his ticketing pad.
The Pad? Really? The Pad? I was gonna get slapped? O.J. never found the real killer but I was gonna get slapped?
In a parallel universe, I would have shouted this at the train fuzz. I would have railed against the system. I would have shook my vocal fist at all the iniquity and ridiculousness. I would have spat and spewed: I didn’t technically jump fare! I only feasibly could have jumped a future fare! Roman Polanski! Robert Blake! Mister Burns! I bought the ticket! I bought the ticket! Call American Express! Attica! Attica!
But in real life, my little heart sank. I was a good girl and now I’d broken bad. Worse, it was going to cost me seventy-four dollars.
I wasn’t having any fun at all. I was the worst rebel ever.
Now I lurk in corners, poorer, and ashamed to show my stupid face, scofflaw that I am. I resolve to learn my pricey lesson and return to the straight life I once knew. Crime simply does not pay... at least, it doesn’t for me.
But man, did you see Ken Burns’ Prohibition on PBS? Those scofflaws had all the fun...
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.