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Hidemi Woods 

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

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Hidemi's Rambling No.525

The nearest train station from my home that I usually use has no station attendants on site. All it has are a ticket vending machine and an emergency phone. There’s no ticket gate either. A passenger gets a ticket from the machine and goes directly onto the platform. Upon arrival, they put the used tickets into a box on the wall. There are several no-attendant stations like that along this local line. That means it’s possible to ride free if you get on and off the train both at those stations. It’s kind of an honorable system that whether you pay for the ticket or not all depends on your conscience. Of course riding a train without a ticket is a crime. To crack down on it, a conductor sometimes makes spot checks on the train. He or she checks all passengers’ tickets and stamps on them. If someone has a ticket for the minimum fare, the conductor asks the destination and collects the full fare. Since many passengers make the payments on the train, I suspect the honorable system doesn’t work so well. I’ve once seen a passenger without a ticket caught by the conductor. She received the conductor’s severe rebuke and paid a lot of money. Some passengers try so badly not to be caught when a conductor begins the spot check. Their common ways are simply running away from the conductor by moving back and forth between the cars. A conductor sometimes gets off the train and steps onto the platform at a no-attendant station to check the tickets of the passengers who get off there. In those cases, a passenger who cheats on the fare walks toward the far end of the platform opposite to the conductor. The train eventually has to leave on schedule and the conductor doesn’t have enough time to go up to the passenger for the ticket. The passenger waits there for the train to leave with the conductor back on while pretending to rummage through his or her bag for the ticket that doesn't exist. The most impressive passenger I’ve seen was a young woman who pretended to sleep in her seat when the conductor asked her to show a ticket. No matter how loudly the conductor asked repeatedly, she wouldn’t wake up. Although he almost shouted in her ear in the end of the persistent demands for the ticket, she was still asleep. I thought if she wasn’t acting, she was dead. After he went back, her acting finished and she woke up. Unfortunately for her, the conductor was as determined as she was, and came back to her again. She was caught this time, but pretended to look for her ticket and declared she had lost it somewhere. A woman with an iron heart! She told her departure and destination stations which credibility was questionable, and paid the fare to the conductor after all. A stingy person like me buys a ticket each time. Even so, I feel nervous and have shifty eyes every time a conductor walks through the train cars. That’s because I may or may not devise some ways to save money for the ticket, but I leave it to your conjecture…

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