Friday, May 26, 2017

The reason why your NJ Transit train conductor may be a little bit surly

It was his first trip out of New York Penn Station this morning. The first day of the first long weekend of the year. A busy travel day with a lot of people taking the train to Newark Airport for the first time. Many of them confused about how many stops they had to go and how to use the monorail when they got there. So there was a lot of explaining to do on an unusually crowded train. Meaning that he'll have some extra customer service duties all day today. But that's all part of the job and, surely, the conductor came to work this morning prepared for all that.

But then there were those other customers that he probably was prepared for but hoped that there'd not be too many of them. But on this first ride, unfortunately for him, there were a few.

The guy sitting in front of me was clearly the worse of the bunch.

When I say guy, I really mean man. As in an adult human being. I mention this because he handed the conductor a child's fare ticket. Which is half price. So instead of forking over $16 like every other adult riding from New York to Red Bank, he only paid $7.35, which the conductor noted in his conversation with the customer was a "half ticket." The guy took offense to that, asking why he was asking his age because he had no right to ask and should just assume that he'd paid the right amount of money and lectured the conductor that it's not his job to question him.

(I should add that a few minutes earlier on this crowded train the same guy was sprawled across a seat designed for three and got upset when the conductor asked him to make room for other passengers who might otherwise have to stand.)

"Actually when someone presents a reduced fare ticket I'm supposed to ask for ID," the conductor responded.

"Why would you do that? Why would you assume I don't have the right to use this ticket," came the angry response.

"Maybe if you would do your job right and not ask so many questions you would lose some weight. Look at yourself," the customer continued.

"You're talking about two different things," the conductor answered. "One has nothing to do with the other."

As the conductor walked away, probably because he didn't want his blood pressure to rise to a dangerous level, the guy started muttering to himself about the injustice of it all. I can't imagine what was going through the mind of the poor woman who had the misfortune of sitting next to him. But it couldn't have been pleasant thoughts.

And that's why your conductor may be a bit surly today.

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