In the books again

One of the things when you’re flat broke is that you take every opportunity to earn some extra cash. And so I was up early this morning to head into work to do a bit of underpaid overtime.

I was on the train at about 7.30 and sat by the window. The train was maybe a quarter full and I looked out at the passing scenery listening to music on my iPhone. At about 7.40 a ticket inspector abruptly appears in front of me interrupting the tranquility. Without thinking I straightened up, and fetched out my Myki for him to scan, all good. Except he’s still talking to me as he hands back my Myki. I turn off the music and pull out an earbud and say something like sorry mate, say again.

He tells me it’s an offence to sit with my feet up on the seat. I look down at my feet, flat on the floor, and then give him a quizzical look. You had your feet up, he tells me. I thought I had one leg crossed over the other, but really it was not something I was conscious off. My foot might have brushed the seat opposite, but even that’s supposition. In any case I nod my head as if to say, if you say so, at which point he tells me he’d have to issue me with a ticket. I’m pretty cool still, thinking this is a minor thing and surely he’ll see some kind of reason. Out of interest I ask what the penalty is. He tells me $260 and I’m pretty sure I gape at him then as if to say you’re fucking kidding.

He begins to write up the ticket, telling me he’s only doing his job and that I can appeal. Shit fucking job I think, but all I tell him is that I’ll definitely be appealing.

We go through the rigmarole and I’m thinking what a fucking rort. $260! That’s gouging. That’s revenue raising. I’d have thought maybe a warning was appropriate for a first offence, and maybe a $60-$70 fine after that. But $260! I feel like laughing it’s so ridiculous.

He asks me some questions. Did I know I had my feet on the seat? I reply I wasn’t aware of it. He asks if I knew it was an offence. I don’t know quite how to answer that. I knew it was frowned on, but had no idea it was $260 worth of frowning. He writes down ‘no’. And that’s that.

I’ll be interested to see what happens from here. He told me it would take 2-3 months for an official notice to be issued. I half believe they will let me off it seems so silly. But if I don’t there’s no way I’m coughing up that much for that offence. It’s utterly disproportionate. I might have considered it if it were $60-$70 (assuming I could find it), just to get it out of the way. But not this. Both principle and economics mean this s one more I’ll fight if I have to.

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