What I Should Have Said to the Bitch on the Train

In Opinion, Satire on August 12, 2011 at 6:11 PM

It started as inauspiciously as any old train ticket inspection. Then the ticket inspector turned to the teenage girl on the table adjacent to mine expecting her to produce her ticket as any upstanding citizen would do (I refuse to call this person a ‘woman’ for reasons that will become apparent). She gave some tall story about ticket machines being down at Preston Park (a small, often unmanned station in North Brighton) and then not being able to get money out at Brighton station, where she had connected to this London and Bedford, because a new card was in the post or some such spiel. I was focusing more on my beloved Sudoku at this point, having heard people try on this kind of trick countless times. Hell, I even have myself twice. The first did happen to be a (mostly) an honest confusion, however seemingly contrived, and the second, I just plain lost my ticket on the train (the guy genuinely seemed to believe me, but alas had to fine me anyway). Essentially, hers was a story that, even if somehow true/honest, was far more likely to be judged dishonest by the unknowing ears of a train conductor. It certainly was to these ears.

So, nothing remarkable at this point; chancers/scumbags try and catch a (literal) free ride on trains all the time. Most though, at least have some sense of perspective/moral compass to face up to the penalty (often £20) when they roll the dice and lose, so to speak. Or, they have some cunning in their mischief, for example, the classic remarkably convenient trip to the toilet.

How this progressed was remarkable, though. Not believing the tall tale of the girl who was quickly descending in my estimation to the titular ‘Bitch’, the ticket inspector calmly, comprehensibly and professionally explained the flaws in Bitch’s story. Thus, she reasonably (even if wrongly) deemed Bitch’s actions criminal, and outlined the subsequent choices she had for the penalty. The preferable option was that Bitch pay some of the penalty there and then, but, of course, this was not possible because of the card situation – a situation the inspector, quite understandably, had a little trouble understanding and offering a solution to. This hesitation was, however, interpreted as severe linguistic and/or comprehension-based failings by Bitch, who attacked them mercilessly. At this point, my eyes and ears had pricked up a little as Bitch claimed; “if (the inspector) can’t speak English, then (she) shouldn’t be working on this train” (at a guess, the inspector was of Italian or Eastern European descent). The judgement was frankly ridiculous given that they had understood each other perfectly until now.

But oh no, it didn’t stop there. Bitch somehow thought that it was that a polite request to pay for a service which openly advertises the fact that it charges (and prosecutes those who don’t pay) was ‘disrespectful’ to her, and that, thus, the inspector should “GET OUT OF MY FACE”…”GET OUT OF MY FACE”. Bitch also inferred from the inspector’s supposedly poor command of the English language that she should “get out of the country” and “go home”, despite knowing absolutely none of this woman’s cultural/racial heritage. She also plucked a straw man from thin air to aggressively argue against, claiming; “I was born here. I was born in Southampton and have lived here all my life!”. (Bitch was – well is – of mixed race). Below is how a better artist than myself might depict her.

Artist's likely representation of Bitch

Artist's likely representation of Bitch

For a good five minutes, I quietly seethed (as I assumed others were), hoping that Bitch would relent . Alas, she didn’t. So, ashamed to share oxygen, let alone a country with Bitch, especially in light of the bitches and dickheads of the recent riots, I thought the proper thing to do was to stand up to her in support of the inspector. I said something like “look, this woman is just doing her job and, to be fair, your story does seem far-fetched”. When she asked “what it had to do with” me (“not wanting to disrespect” me, surprisingly), I offered a vague, unconsidered suggestion that I did so because I was angered that it was people with a similar mindset who have caused ‘all this mess’ . She countered that she was “going through a hard time” and is “normally nice”. Needing to get off, I simply argued “well, that may be, but you shouldn’t be taking it out on this woman who has nothing to do with it and is just doing her job”.

I then pondered it and came to the conclusion I was largely right and, in doing so, rued all the clever lines and arguments I wish I’d had the balls, eloquence, quick-thinking and time to advance (I’m a little petty like that, you see). So, here is what I’d have said given the memory of Hawking, derring-do of Balotelli, eloquence of Fry and Click remote of…errm, Sandler….  *If you happen to know a girl fitting Bitch’s description who was travelling on the 14:04 First Capital Connect service from Brighton to Bedford, by all means forward this.*

“Hi there,

Yeah I was sitting over there, minding my own business, enjoying my Sudoku, but couldn’t help but overhear you being a self-righteous, racist (or at least xenophobic), disrespectful, small-minded, short-sighted bitch.

From the beginning…  Your tale of public transport and personal woe could be genuine, but how is this ticket inspector to know this. (*to ticket inspector*, sorry I didn’t catch your name in the midst of all her abuse *we’ll say it’s ‘Sofia’*).  Sofia wasn’t with you so doesn’t know and thus has to base it on her judgement. I can tell you from a fellow outsider’s view, I think you are being deceitful. At best, you have been negligent and short-sighted, for which you probably still deserve the fine. Yet, you stubbornly refuse to look at your tall tale from any perspective but your own.

This leads me on to my next point; as far as I know, Sofia is neutral. She is just doing her job, and in a professional and competent manner from what I’ve seen. Furthermore, it is a job which is necessary to ensure the continuation of a service which facilitates tourism, business, entertainment, sport and much, much more, and in an arguably ‘green’ way, too. Specifically, Sofia’s role involves ensuring people don’t catch a free ride, lest the industry miss out on a lot of the money necessary for its continuation. The alternative to inspectors is that the government dramatically raise taxes. Judging by your angry reaction to being asked for money now, this would not best please you. This is, of course, presuming you pay taxes in the first place.

As I’ve heard, nowhere has Sofia even implied a xenophobic comment, let alone a racist one. As such, your assertions that of your right to live “here” are merely a straw man, only serving to highlight the hypocrisy of your xenophobic/racist comments (I’ll come on to these). Even if Sofia privately harbours controversial thoughts on race relations (she certainly doesn’t seem to), it would be utterly retarded of her to bring these into her workplace given the aforementioned need for finance to sustain the industry and, by extension, her livelihood. What do you think; that inspectors really give a fuck what colour face they see in the backgrounds of their vision when inspecting tickets?!

Claiming that you have been racially targeted when there is, personally, no hint of evidence of this is just fucking arrogant and imbecilic. You are just dressing up in supposed racism the real reason Sofia is targeting you – you haven’t paid for a bloody ticket! This victim culture can be corrosive to society, even if warranted (which it isn’t here). Look at all these dickheads looting and rioting in the country at the moment. Regardless of how much they actually have been (which is too complex an argument for me to detail here), many people are rioting because they feel they are victims (of economic injustice, police malpractice, being ‘ignored’ by politicians and many other things). This victim culture can create a very dangerous cycle of blame begetting blame, and punishment begetting punishment (or just arseholery begetting arseholery). Instead we need to look at the bigger picture. The rioters are short-sighted enough not to fully comprehend the immense complexity of the web of cause and effect which has led to the socio-economic environment in which the riots occurred, instead typically blaming a vague ‘government’ or ‘rich’. You are too short-sighted to even see the straightforward need for the inspector to want you to pay your face (I shouldn’t need to explain these again). As such she will not ‘get out of your face’. You have not only failed to pay for an openly consumer service, but are now steadfastly refusing to comply with the stated punishment for not doing so. You should consider yourself lucky that the exact opposite is not true – namely, you are not being asked to get out of her face at the next station, which the train company is fully entitled to do.

I am also abhorred by the msiguided self-entitlement displayed by many rioters in believing to be somehow personally above the law. ‘Having a tough time’ and ‘normally being a nice person’ simply does not legally entitle you to hitch a free ride, much less be aggressively racist in my opinion. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but we are enjoying the service of a train, not a fucking therapist. The train is neutral to people’s emotions; you think the chairs are there to give you a supportive hug or the table is there to counsel you?! No. They’re there to be fucking sat on, rest papers on, and such like. You realise how fucking retarded your reasoning is if taken to its logical conclusion? People would be hitching free rides and spouting racist bile left, right and centre, consequently ruining the public transport system and inciting racial hatred, yet the individuals in question would be let off if they merely said I’m ‘having a tough time’, as authorities couldn’t verify this inherently subjective assertion. Do you happen to have some kind of device which instantly and accurately assesses the recent emotional situations of train passengers and the veracity of their convoluted excuses for not having valid tickets….. *pause, while, I imagine, Bitch exasperatingly scrabbles for an argument to follow “BUT…. BUT….”.*

As I suspected, no, you don’t. So, zip it, and pay your fucking penalty, which by the way has no doubt been exacerbated for your stubborn refusal to pay it in the first place.

*Getting up to get off* I’ve got to go back to sleepy, but ‘peaceful’, Devon.

*Turning back, remembering one last point* Oh yeah, and if you think I’m being mean and unsympathetic, you can find some solace (misguided , personally) in the fact that I’m considered ‘normally an o.k. person’….  ”

Joel Durston.

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