A Fistful of Coppers.

penniesA section of my Psychology 264 class was held off-campus. I hadn’t thought ahead to snag a ride with one of my fellow students who had a car, so I decided to take the bus. And then I had an even more brilliant idea.

Now when I ride the bus the drivers have an automated fare taker right next to their seat. I have a card and when I swipe it the phrase “Fare Satisfied” pops up, which always makes me feel good. Hey, I’ve been able to satisfy someone today. If I put in change the fare isn’t satisfied until I’ve put in the full amount. It takes a little longer, but as long as the fare is satisfied that’s all that matters.

In the old days when I first started riding the bus the technology wasn’t so advanced. The fare collector looked like a gumball machine.

A gumball machine that was not, unfortunately, imbued with the power to make hilarious comments. Source: MST3K Wiki

A gumball machine that was not, unfortunately, imbued with the power to make hilarious comments.
Source: MST3K Wiki

Drivers had to keep a close watch on the amount that passengers dropped in to make sure the fare was satisfied.

So, boarding the bus, I held out my fist and dropped a bunch of pennies into the fare collector.

The driver narrowed her eyes at me. Then she cracked up. “All right,” she said. “I have no way to tell but that looks like enough. Take a seat.” And the truth is I had carefully counted out exactly fifty-five pennies—the full amount. I think any shortages would have to be made up by the driver and I wasn’t going to do that.

Psychology 264 was Abnormal Psychology. The bus driver let me off right in front of a mental hospital. I still sometimes wonder if she knew I was a student or if she thought I was a patient.

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I have sometimes wondered similar things about what other people think of me, Chris, and I was very satisfied by this post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s wonderful that you were satisfied. And perhaps it’s in our nature to wonder what others think of us, especially strangers whom we’re trying to impress with something funny like a handful of pennies.

      Reply
  2. Gina W.

    It would have been funnier, but more annoying to everyone on the bus, if you had dropped each penny individually into the coin collector. However, if I was behind you on the bus trying to get on I would have been sending death rays from my eyeballs to the back of your head. What if you’d put in 63 pennies? Would that have totally screwed up the accounting for the day? Just wondering…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If the bus had stopped at a red light I might have been tempted to drop in each penny individually, but getting on holds things up too much as it is. Plus the driver might have counted the number of pennies going in. I like the idea of putting in 63 pennies, though. I figured the drivers had to make up any difference at the end of the day, and I figure an extra eight cents would have been like a tip. Hey, even bus drivers deserve a tip. What’s the difference between a bus driver and a taxi driver? A bus has a fixed route and it’s cheaper to ride but bus drivers put up with crap from a lot more people.

      Reply
  3. TwerlaP

    I had a friend, that when he was broke, would tear a dollar in half and fold it so that it looked whole. He must’ve done that too often because one day the driver stopped the bus, walked back and yelled about shifty kids, and that now he was watching everyone.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s terrible but also kind of brilliant. It doesn’t surprise me that the bus driver caught on. Every one I’ve ever known remembered troublemakers. And that’s a good reason not to mess with them. They’ll throw somebody off and then that person’ll be banned from riding.

      Reply
  4. Shawna

    Hey! Sweet MST3K reference! I was also satisfied by this post! And, I do think it’s weird that people care so much about what other people think. I love driving barefoot but I have a hard time doing it because I think other people around me can tell that I’m barefoot and anytime someone looks toward my car I swear I can hear them yell, “REDNECK!!” Or, I think about my car breaking down and having to walk somewhere barefoot to call my husband to get me and everyone around me thinking I was either insane or drunk. I don’t have a lot of friends.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Hey, no self-respecting redneck would recognize an MST3K reference. You need friends with feet the same size as yours. Then they can bring you some shoes in an emergency. That reminds me a saying about judging others. You should never criticize another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. That way you’re a mile away when you criticize them and you’ve got their shoes.

      Reply
  5. kdcol

    I think there are days I could be mistaken for a student and days I could be mistaken for a patient. Maybe the bus driver didn’t want to figure out which one she was dealing with.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Frequently there’s not that much difference between students and patients. In fact when I signed up for the class my advisor said, “You’re not going to take that class. You’re going to be an example.” Yeah, I was a little crazy, although not quite that crazy.

      Reply

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