This train is certainly making its presence felt, shaking my hands up and down even more than the Sheffield buses, meaning that I am constantly typing misplaced letters. I’m heading back from Manchester, where I’ve just had a brush with the law. Granted, it wasn’t a particularly harsh, bristly or wiry brush, more of a very soft, fluffy, gentle kind of brush; but it was a brush nonetheless.
I arrived at the tram stop just as the tram was approaching. I got straight on the tram and settled into my seat, basking in my good fortune, as now I would make the earlier train, which had a shorter journey time and would shave an hour off my return home to Sheffield. I was in my own little world, unaware of my surroundings, probably thinking about what to write for today’s Dollop, when I was jolted back to my physical setting by a lady standing by me.
I had completely forgotten about getting a ticket. When I used to live in Manchester I had a pass that meant that I didn’t need to buy a ticket. So I’d just arrived at the tram stop, noticed that the tram was there and got on it.
I asked the lady if I could buy a ticket on the tram, but she said no. So then I asked her if I could buy one when I got off the tram. I appreciate now that this was a bit of an odd question. How would they know that I would actually be true to my word? But I’d made the suggestion in complete innocence, as if it was perfectly plausible that I should be able to purchase a ticket once I’d got off the tram. I think the lady was a bit taken aback by this question, because in stead of explaining the ridiculousness of my proposal, she said, sounding surprised, “Well, er, OK, but make sure you do.” As she walked away she muttered, “that’s a new one.”
Then she got off the tram, and I heard her laughing with the member of staff at the station. “He says he’s going to buy one when he gets off the tram.” The other member of staff laughed. I still hadn’t realised the oddness of my suggestion, and so felt a bit put out by the laughing, so I muttered something under my breath about them both being condescending idiots, which obviously wasn’t anywhere near loud enough for them to hear, but it made me feel better.
Then a thought struck me. It was the same thought that had obviously immediately crossed the two staff members’ heads, but it had only just emerged in my brain. I realised that I could get away with not buying a ticket. In fact, if I was going to make the earlier train then I wouldn’t have time to buy a ticket. It was going to be a close call whether I managed to make that train, and it would save me an hour of travel and waiting around in the station. So I had a moral quandary: I could buy a ticket for a journey I’d already done and had gotten away with taking for free and consequently get home an hour later, or not buy a ticket and be rewarded for my dishonesty by getting home an hour earlier.
I decided that I would go straight for the train, and not buy the tram ticket. I could always buy an extra ticket the next time I took a tram. The prices would have probably risen by then, so they’d be getting more money, which would kind of be like paying interest. I would view it as a loan. I felt as if I’d vindicated myself morally, and that now I could get on the earlier train guilt free.
When the tram arrived at the station I got off and headed for the train platform. I knew that there were other people on the tram who had heard my declaration about buying a ticket when I got off the tram. I might be the recipient of a citizen’s arrest. I would obviously explain my loan hypothesis to them, but that would take up valuable time that I didn’t have, and I would miss my train. So I made a run for it, a run befitting of the criminal that I was.
I ran up the stairs and towards the platform. But my path was prevented by a man. I had no choice but to stop, as my access had been blocked. There were a group of people in front of me, all stopping me from reaching the platform, and in front of them was a bareer. I had reached the ticket checks. I had to stand in a cue of people getting their train tickets checked. Eventually the man checked my ticket and let me pass, but I knew that it was too late. I knew that I’d been thwarted. I arrived at the platform just as my train was departing. The sound of the train chugging down the plattform was like a knife in my heart. But then the next sound I heard was like a machete to the head.
“The 1618 service to Sheffield will be delayed by approximately twenty-five minutes.” Another twenty-five minutes had just been added to my journey, meaning that missing the earlier train had now cost me an hour and twenty-five minutes.
Annoyance bristled through me. I now had an hour to waste at the train station. A thought fleetingly presented itself: I now had time to go back to the tram ticket office and buy my ticket. I turned to walk in the direction of the tram ticket office, but then I stopped. I was too angry at the world to do the right thing. I turned back around and slumped into one of the seats. I decided that missing the train was punishment enough without feeling guilty about not buying a tram ticket. I would just sit here and sulk and sod the tram network.
But it was as if a greater power had read my thoughts and issued further punishment accordingly, the announcement came to inform me that my train would be delayed by a further ten minutes.
Worried that there might be some connection between my failure to buy a tram ticket and the success of my journey, I got up from my seat and headed to the tram ticket office. I bought a ticket. Obviously I couldn’t buy a ticket retrospectively, so I had to just buy one going in the opposite direction, which was the same price as the one I should have bought. I then put the ticket straight in the bin, meaning that there was no chance of me using it at a later date.
“The 1618 service to Sheffield is delayed by fifteen minutes.”
My delay time had been significantly cut down, I had learnt my lesson, and the universe was realigning itself accordingly. Or at the very least, I felt slightly better about myself and less guilty.
I’m looking forward to being contacted about the film rights for this particular Dollop. Maybe we need a few more plot twists and story development, but I think I’ve got the hallmarks of a great drama. Perhaps there could be a love interest. Maybe she works at the tram ticket office and we first meet when I eventually buy my ticket. We initiate a date, fall in love, get married and have children. Obviously none of that would have happened if I hadn’t missed my train and done the right thing by purchasing a ticket. It would be like a modern day fable, promoting honest living and doing the right thing, as if I hadn’t bought that ticket then I might have lived a loveless lonely life and died all alone, unloved. And maybe as I drew my final breath I would have a hallucination that showed me the kind of life that I could have been living if I’d only bought a ticket. I see my children, and my beautiful wife, I see myself growing old contentedly with my true love always by my side. So many happy memories of a life well lived. And then I’m back in my bed all alone, dying, with nothing, and I hear the voice of God saying, “but at least you took that tram ride for free, didn’t you? At least you saved yourself a £2,30 tram fare.
I suppose the moral of the story is somewhat spewed by the fact that if I’d have bought the tram ticket originally then I wouldn’t have met my true love. So the moral of the story could actually be seen as really being: don’t do the right thing the first time, but make sure you do the right thing the second or third time. But we can take a closer look at the script and story ark and work out the flaws. But firstly, you need to name your price. Let’s talk about the money and then we’ll take it from there.
Who do you think we should get to play me in the film?