Hillary Clinton had trouble using a New York Transit Authority MetroCard the other day. And Saturday Night Live made a pretty funny story about it.
Clinton is among the least New Yorky professional New Yorkers who come from out of town to land in a self aggrandizing suburb and claim they’re “from” here.
One of three carpetbagging senators in recent state history, Clinton tries to play the native. Both Bobby Kennedy and Jim Buckley knew better. And even the very New Yorky Mike Bloomberg doesn’t try to hide his Massachusetts roots.
So when Clinton has a true NYC experience -- like the MetroCard not working -- it’s good for her and good for the city.
If you haven’t had a card screwup, you haven’t been a part of real life. Experiments with the card began in 1993. A few thousand people were lab rats and tested the things. The verdict? “You’re crazy if you think this is going to work.”
That’s always a green light to bull straight ahead. And that’s what the parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority did.
Eventually, the virus spread system-wide. New compatible turnstiles were installed at a cost nipping at a figure close to the gross domestic product of Denmark. Those same turnstiles were designed to block fare jumpers. But it only made it easier for them and harder to detect from a cop’s vantage point on a platform.
The MetroCard has a mind of its own. It likes to demagnetize for no obvious reason and there’s no appeal to a higher court when the thing tells you “Swipe Again.”
That there’s a built in “swipe again” warning tells you this is no mystery to the masters of the subway universe. What to do?
The first line of battle is to re-swipe slowly. Maybe you went too fast. The next is to swipe quickly. Maybe you went too slow. Then there’s kind of wiping the card against your shirt or coat. Maybe some debris you can’t see is stopping you.
If none of those work, the most common next step is backing out of the turnstile and trying another. If that doesn’t work, you go to the card reader attached to the front of the “token booth.” And when that says “swipe again,” you appeal to the live body -- if there still is one -- sitting behind the bulletproof glass.
Those clerks are getting scarce. After all, why employ people when you have that splendid automated system? If there is someone sitting there, they will do one of two things, accept your card and try to read it with their own swiper or put the card number into a computer to make sure you have enough money in the till to pay the fare. If you don’t you can add more. If you do, “there’s nothing I can do.”
So while there’s plenty for which you can fault Hillary Clinton, MetroCard disability is not one of them.
--Know how to tell that a transplant is not a native New Yorker? It’s when they claim to “understand” the place. No one who really comes from there would make an imbecilic claim like that.
Quote of the Day:
“We never heard of you either.” -- Ad slogan for Harmonic Design of Hawaii, a little known but well regarded maker of electric guitar pickups.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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