03 August 2006

Guest blog: Heather evades a $200 fine

Today I had to go to a statistics seminar hosted by a research group in the Mental Health Unit at Liverpool Hospital. I'd never been to Liverpool Hospital before, and my boss gave me a map. The map wasn't the best, as it only showed the hospital campus and didn't show the route from the train station to the hospital. But he clearly identified the location of the Mental Health Unit with large block letters highlighted in hot pink and circled in pencil.
I woke up this morning and realized I left my map on my desk in my office. I needed to take the bus to my office and retrieve my map before catching the train, and, with dinner plans in another part of the city later in the evening, I quickly tallied 2 bus trips and 4 train trips today. Since we live by Central, in the middle of the red zone, I congratulated myself on having the clever idea of buying a discounted red zone (inner city) weekly travel pass.
As it goes I was running late. At 8:30am, map in hand, I was in the train station looking at the schedule board when I realized I don't even know where the suburb of Liverpool is (FYI--southwest on the map). I found the Liverpool train on the board, not thinking it's called Liverpool because Liverpool is the end of the line, thereby meaning Liverpool is a LONG way away. And probably not in the zone of my red inner city travel pass.
Ride the train without a valid ticket and you'll get slapped with a $200 fine.
But at 8:30am it wasn't connecting for me. I was just trying to figure out if I would make it to my seminar by 10 o'clock, and I was very perplexed by watching the estimated time until departure for my train change from 7 minutes to 19 minutes to 23 minutes back to 3 minutes. I had to catch that train!
But the train was 20 minutes late. And it moved so slowly I could have hopped on one foot to Liverpool faster. At no point did I think 'I'm really going a long way. I bet this hospital isn't in the Inner West.' I don't wear a watch, so I had no idea it was after 10am until I saw the clock when I alighted at the station. And then I was really flustered because I was already late and I had no idea how to get from the train station to the hospital.
I rammed my red zone pass into the turnstile while fishing in my bag for the hospital campus map. The turnstile beeped 'INVALID TICKET' at me. The first transit officer came over, glanced at my ticket, saw the date was valid, and let me through. Then he said, "HOLD ON! Did that say red?"
"Yeah, it says red," I huffed with attitude. In the same breath, "How do you get to Liverpool Hospital?"
"Ma'am, you can't come all the way out here on a red zone ticket."
"What? OK. How do you get to the hospital from here?"
"Ma'am, it's a $200 fine."
"OK. I have a meeting at the hospital. How do you get to the hospital?"
A second transit officer comes over. "Ma'am, I need to ask you a few questions."
"OK. How do you get to the hospital?" I found my campus map in my bag at this moment and waved it triumphantly in the air.
"Ma'am, why are you in Liverpool?" Now there are 4 transit officers.
"I have to go to the hospital. I have a meeting."
"Do you ride the train often?"
"Never. How do you get to the hospital? I have this map, but it doesn't tell me how to get to the hospital."
I gave my campus map to the transit officers. They took one look at MENTAL HEALTH UNIT in block letters, highlighted in hot pink, and circled in pencil.
I got a smile and a wave and I was on my way. I walked out of the station and the hospital was across the street.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

hilarious! i can only imagine if all of us had been there...
-k