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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Primo borracho

An indignant citizen sounds off today's 20 minutes (my translation follows):

Colarse en Alfonso X

Javier Carretero. Publicada el 22.11.2005

El otro día estaba en el metro de Alfonso X delante del taquillero para comprar mi T-10 como persona legal que soy.

De repente, aparece un hombre con pinta de borrachín y así por las buenas le dice al taquillero:

-Oye, primo, ábreme.

Y el taquillero, sin dudarlo, le obedece y le abre el torno. De ninguna forma era otro empleado del metro, sino más bien, por la forma de vestir, parecía un macarrilla con mucha cara. Me han entrado ganas de pedirle lo mismo, porque a lo mejor era el día de puertas abiertas en el metro y yo no lo sabía.


Free rides in Alfonso X [yellow line subway stop]

The other day I was in the Alfonso X subway stop in front of the ticket booth to buy my T-10 like the law-abiding citizen that I am.

Suddenly, a man that looked like a random drunk says to the ticket taker:

-Hey, cousin, let me through.

And the ticket taker, without a moment’s hesitation, obeyed him and opened the turnstile. There's no way it was another employee of the subway, rather, from his way of dressing, he looked like a dimestore pimp with lots of nerve. I felt like asking for the same, because maybe it was free ride day on the subway and I didn't know it.



A couple years ago, 7:30 AM Saturday morning. I'm late, as usual, for work*. Haven't even had a coffee. I get to the turnstile and take out my T-10 (bus and subway pass) and sadly realize it has expired. I walk to the vending machine because the ticket-taker booth is closed. The vending machine is taped over, leaving me with two choices: go back up the stairs, find another subway stop with a vending machine that works and be late; or, hop the turnstile and get to work on time. I hop the turnstile.

As soon as I get down to the subway platform four, I kid you not, four subway ticket controllers surround me and whip out their little subway-violator-fining machines.

I can't run, and I'm too tired to play the stupid tourist who can't understand a thing they're saying. I explain that the vending machine is busted, but that doesn't fly with them.

"That still doesn't give you the right to a free subway ride".

I'm saddled with two choices: pay 20 Euros on the spot, or have the fine mailed to me and pay it through my bank for 40 Euros. Since I don't have the money on me, I opt for the 40 Euro fine. And that happens to be more than I'll make this entire workday.


It’s 2005 and "Primo boraccho" still gets in free. People still smoke on the platforms. I've even seen people pissing. Truthfully, I think the subway system works quite well, but fining musicians without permits, and people for jumping turnstiles (even when they have no other choice) is misdirected. For one, I'd like to see more live music instead of flat-screened televisions spewing out advertisements, public bathrooms, and cheaper fares. It's too expensive (at almost 7 euros for a T-10) for people earning middle to lower middle class incomes - the ones that really need to take it. They're the ones with bosses that can fire them for arriving 10 minutes late. That is, unless you're their favorite "primo borracho".


* I remember this pleasant little job. It was back when I was doing light and sound maintenance for events, driving forklifts - real work that pays nothing! This day we had to go and dismantle a stage we had set up for none other than Jon Clos (yup it was election time in la Ciudad Condal, and this was his political rally).