22 March 2007

Inadvertent Train Bandit

Today our upstairs neighbor needed to go to the airport. She is 7 months pregnant and has a toddler. She also had luggage and a heavy car seat. Unfortunately, her husband had to work this morning and was going to meet her there.

I offered to take her to the airport. I didn't have plans anyway. And, after all, it's the "neighborly" thing to do.

We decided to drive the car to the local train station and then take the train directly to the airport. So we parked the car, gathered all the various bags and so on and caught the train. As the train pulled away from the station, I saw a Billette Inspector working her way down the rows of people. I reached for my purse to pull out my annual pass.

And realized I did not have it!

In the commotion outside the car with the toddler, the luggage and the car seat, I had forgotten to grab my purse! No annual transit pass. No identification. No wallet. All I had were some 1, 2 and 5 CHF coins in my pocket. Amounting to a grand total of 14 CHF.

I quickly explained the situation to my neighbor then scrambled in my brain for what to do.

As the inspector approached us, I launched into my hastily prepared excuse. But I knew as I began that this wouldn't work. I had heard that the Swiss Billette Inspectors are notorious for showing a lack of mercy.

But I had to at least try.

I explained that I have an annual pass, but in the rush to gather all the things I had forgotten my purse in the car. Then I said I would get off at the next stop, Zürich Hauptbahnhof, and purchase a ticket. (Fortunately the train sits for 5 minutes at the main station.)

To my complete surprise, all I got was a disapproving look and an admonishment to never let it happen again. No ticket. No escort off the train to the police. No enormous fine that must be paid right then and there. I didn't even get in trouble for not carrying my residency papers, which I was told should be with me at all times.

What are the odds?

By the way, a round trip ticket costs 13,80. Full fare. Because, of course, my Half-Pass card was also in my wallet back in the car. A mere 20 rappens less than the amount I had in my pocket. (My neighbor loaned me a bit of money "just in case" for the ride home.)

And I am also happy to report that my purse was still safely in the car. The car I accidentally left unlocked. In full view of anyone who should happen to walk by.


GL's D said...

What, you've taken to living dangeriously??

Global Librarian said...

Not dangerously. Just carelessly.

In a city with a crime rate I am much more aware of these type of things.

Perhaps I feel too safe here in Switzerland?

swissmiss said...

My understanding is that if you own the pass but don't have it one day they give you a ticket to pay later but if you provide a copy of the pass you only owe something nominal like 5 or 10 Francs. But I wouldn't swear that's accurate.

Sara said...

i wonder if they do the same thing on the trains as the Geneva buses and trams, if you have a monthly pass but don't have it on you they give you the fine, but then you simply go to the office with your pass and the fine paper within 3 days and you only pay some small administrative fee.

Expat Traveler said...

I have also heard you can on a regular train just get a ticket from the conductor but it costs a bit more.

I'm not surprised your stuff was still there. I got scared as I'm too used to North America again but still... It's switzerland and most people look out for each other somehow...