The Long Island Rail Road

by Linus

I have the misfortune of living on Long Island, and since I work in the city, that means that in order to get to work, I either have to sit in traffic on the Long Island Expressway for 3 hours every morning, or ride the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).  I have chosen the lesser of two evils, I ride the train.  I cannot even begin to sum up my loathing and hatred for this entire organization.  To put it into perspective, think of the most poorly run corporation in the world, multiply it by 10, and you have the LIRR.  It’s almost as if someone took all the high school dropouts and misfits and said, come, we have a home for you.

The most recent incident of proving to the world they have no clue in life occured last night/this morning.  I forgot my monthly pass yesterday and in the morning, the conductor did the right thing, he let me go.  In the evening however, it was a different story.  The exchange went like this:

Conductor: All tickets please
Me: I forgot my monthly pass
Conductor: (Giving a look that says, “Oh great, why can’t these moron’s just remember their tickets) Um…
Me: Look, I have a monthly ticket, I just forgot it
Conductor: I know, but I still have to charge you
Me: Well if you know, then why are you charging me?  I’ve already paid
Conductor: But you don’t have your ticket
Me: I don’t have it on me, but I did pay for this ride
Me: I ride this train every day, ask these people, they recognize me (to which the gentleman in front of me responses – “dude, he rides the train every day.”)
Conductor: *Gives bewildered look*
Me: See!?
Conductor: I am just filling in for the day, if your normal conductor was here he might recognize you
Me: I know the normal conductor, tall man, reddish blond hair, beard…
Conductor: I don’t know him, I am only filling in for the day.  If you know the woman in the front of the train, she can vouch for you
Me: I don’t know her, I literally sit in this exact seat every day
Me: *Beginning to lose patience* Fine, how much is it?
Conductor: $18
Me: What?! F*#k that, I’m not paying that
Conductor: Then I have to give you a ticket
Me: Whatever

I give him my id, and as he is writing the ticket, another gentleman sitting near me tells me that this has happened to him before, and all they will do is see that I am a normal monthly customer and they will cancel the ticket.  So the conductor hands me the ticket and tells me to go to the customer service office in Penn Station.

This morning, after wandering around like an idiot for 10 minutes, I finally stumble upon the customer service office, the exchange is as follows:

Me: I forgot my monthly ticket yesterday, and instead of doing the right thing, the conductor gave me a ticket.  I do the monthly mail & ride and since paying this would essentially be double charging me, are you able to cancel the ticket?
Customer Service Man: There’s nothing I can do
Me: Wow, what a surprise
Customer Service Man: You can call the mail & ride office and talk to them
Me: And the run-around begins

When I get to the office, I immediately call the mail & ride, enter my account number and pin, and deal with all seven of their prompts in an effort to talk to someone with a pulse.  When the highly educated man answers, I recount my epic tale for him:

Phone Man: If you want to argue it, I can give you the number for public affairs, they are all managers
Me: What does that even mean?
Phone Man: I am only allowed to accept payments here, if you want to argue it, I can give you the number for public affairs, they are all managers
Me: So you said.  So does that mean I am going to call up, leave a message, then wait three days for someone to call me back?
Phone Man: Begins giving me the phone number for public affairs (Which, mind you, is the same number that I called to get to wonder boy here)

I re-dial to get to public affairs, which to no one’s surprise is a voicemail greeting asking you to leave your life story on a tape, and then someone will give you a call back.

I know exactly what is going to happen here, when they do get around to calling me back, they are going to say there is nothing they can do, and I am going to have to pay the ticket.  For the record, I have no problem with the concept of getting the ticket.  I understand that I didn’t have my ticket, and from the conductors point of view, he doesn’t know that I have a monthly, so he gives me a ticket, which is what he is supposed to do.  What should happen though is that the LIRR should see that every month I do actually pay for my monthly ticket, and they should then cancel the ticket…I am highly skeptical that will actually happen.  I know that if I want to continue to fight this inept organization, I am going to have to appear at the municipal building in Jamaica, appeal, take a day off work, waste more time…then have to pay the ticket along with a “handling” fee…so it will end up costing me more time, money, and aggravation.  Welcome to the fun that is the Long Island Rail Road.  Will they ever change, of course not!  They don’t have to, they have you by the balls and they know it.  They know that the other option is to sit on the LIE for 3 hours each morning and 3 hours each night…and who wants to do that?

To be continued…