Sunday, June 28, 2015

Do As I Say...

A regional train

 “Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to not make the same mistake twice.”
― Stephanie Perkins

"I wish," I said to Mike yesterday, "that we had trains like this in the US."  We were sitting on a fast train to Rome. "I'd love to have even the plain, ol' regional trains.  If we did, I'd go to Pahrump or Laughlin or St. George."  He nodded and proceeded to fall asleep.

That's the great thing about trains. You choose a place to go, buy a ticket, get on the train, and take off. While you're in the middle of the journey, you just sit back and let them do the driving.  Your only other job is to make sure you get off at the right station.

Train station

Actually, that's not right. Once you buy the ticket and before you get on the train, you have to validate your ticket. Validation is most important on the regional trains because you can buy tickets at automated machines, and the tickets are good for a route only.  The regional trains run certain routes a lot, and tickets don't specify time, date, or seat.  Validation shows that the ticket is good for six hours on a certain day for a certain route.

 Conductors walk the trains and check tickets regularly.  In the past two years, I've only been on maybe three trains where I didn't see a conductor, and two of those were fast trains. Tickets for the fast trains are for specific days, times, and seats, so while conductors do check tickets on those routes, they sometimes spot check certain cars.

So, ticket validation is quite important, and there are machines all over the stations, so it's not hard to remember to validate tickets. I constantly tell people this in person and on travel boards.

And, you probably know where this is going, don't you? 

A conductor and passenger conversing over a ticket

Just before the first group left for home in late May, I went to Ravenna with one of the gals, Deb.  The others decided they wanted to stay in Bologna and go to other museums.  I bought the tickets, and we headed to the platform and the train.  We were about 20 minutes into the trip when the conductor came into our car.  I took the tickets out of my bag.

"Holy crap," I exclaimed.  At that exact moment, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to validate the tickets. "I didn't validate the tickets."

"What's going to happen?" Deb asked me as the conductor reached our seat.

I handed him our tickets and started talking fast.  "I'm so sorry. I forgot to validate them. I'm so tired today. I didn't mean to forget."  I hoped I was saying all that correctly.

"Signora," he said and shook his head as he turned the tickets over looking for the stamping.  "Signorna."

I repeated, "'I'm so  sorry and so tired today. Really.  It's my fault, I know. I didn't mean to forget.

He wagged his finger at me and wrote on both of the tickets, in essence validating them manually.  

One of the rogue tickets

"It's a 65 euro fine per ticket," he told me as he wrote it on the face of one of them.  Since  each ticket cost only 7.50 euro, that fine was a zinger.  Adding to the fun was the fact that I had neither my credit card nor 130 euro with me. He finally smiled at me.  "I'll let it go today."  He underlined the 65 euro twice for emphasis. "Don't do it again."  He handed the tickets back to me and went on.

"Grazie.  Grazie. I won't. I never forget. Just today.  Never. Never." 

And, believe me, I won't.

No comments:

Post a Comment