Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cop-dar!

I was riding the bus to the grocery store in town today, and a man got on the bus a couple of stops after I got on. It was warm today, and he was wearing hiking boots, long pants, a t-shirt under a long-sleeved shirt, a safari vest (What's with these safari vests, anyway?), dark-tinted glass, a scowl, and a black baseball cap. I looked him over, and I immediately sensed...COP! Yes...YES! He was definitely a tram/bus inspector.

He was a sneaky one. He just sat there for a few stops, and then he stood up, announced that he was Polizei ( I KNEW IT!), and asked me for my bus ticket. I showed him my annual pass and photo I.D., and then he moved on through the bus, one person at a time, until he came across a Schwarz Fahrer...who hadn't bought a ticket for his dog (they ride half-fare). That's what they call people here who ride the public transportation without tickets - "black riders".

My annual bus/tram pass costs CHF 670. That means that I used just over 335 francs of it without ever being inspected. The fine, if you're caught by one of the random inspectors, is...get this...80 or 100 francs (not sure) if you pay immediately on the bus/tram, and an additional 20 francs if you don't have enough money on you and they have to send you an invoice. Really! I'm not joking! They actually give you a discount for paying on the spot!

Being an honest, law-abiding foreigner, I would never dream of trying to cheat the system. Sure, I'd probably come out ahead if I did because I've never been inspected more than 3-4 times in a year. If you add it up, I'd only be out of pocket about 300 - 400 francs instead of 670. But it's just not worth it to me. Why?

BECAUSE HAVING TO SIT THERE AND LISTEN TO THE LECTURE WOULD MORE THAN OFFSET ANY SAVINGS!


That's what these guys do. They take the "black rider's" I.D., start writing the ticket, and then proceed to lecture him/her in front of the other passengers about why what they are doing is wrong, and why they shouldn't do it.

I'm sorry, but I just don't know how to say, "...spare me the lecture, 'cuz TBF ain't listenin'!" in Swiss-German (or even in high-German, for that matter). More importantly, I also don't know an attorney here who would be able to bail me out of jail. Although, I've always contended that...Swiss jails can't be that bad.

I mean, Swiss jails are probably clean and safe, right? Swiss men are, for the most part, pretty tiny, so I wouldn't have to worry about picking up the soap in the shower. As a matter of fact, I'd probably be the biggest bad-ass in the entire Swiss prison system. I'm sure the food is pretty decent, so three decent hots and a cot...

...

...

Ok...I'll just keep buying the annual pass. I'm going to shut up now.

8 comments:

Global Librarian said...

Last year I helped a very pregnant friend get herself, her 3 year old, tired & cranky daughter and all their luggage done to the airport. We drove in my car to the closest train station and then caught the train to the airport. In the chaos I forgot my purse, with my wallet, id and, of course, annual pass.

Wouldn't you know, that was the train ride with the Polizei. When they got to me I launched into my story, completely in very fast English. (I have found that sometimes it is an advantage to not speak a single word of German to them.) He just shook his head and said "Don't let it happen again."

All of the Swiss on the train, who had been eagerly awaiting my chastisement, dropped their jaws. It was probably the first time they ever saw someone get caught and get away with it!

I suspect with no money and no id I upped the hassle of dealing with me. And if you can later prove you did have an annual pass the fine goes down to only 10 chf, it really wasn't worth the effort.

Leesa said...

That's a HILARIOUS story!!! They have the "Controllers" here, too.. They do random swipes pretty refrequently, though it's long over due for me right now since it's been a few months since the RATP has been around my wagon train or bus... I actually like to pull out my ticket --Here ya go, sir!!! Cuz I'm sooo darned honest and afraid of getting caught that I am in the clear... One time a controlleur even complimented me on my "charming" accent! Awwww!!! Anyhow.. here it's a 45 euro fine if you are caught w/o a ticket.. You probably know this from already having visited Paris... but there are MANY people who don't bother buying tickets and either "hop" over the barrier or SQUEEZE their way in with someone... This gets on my nerves and I always give them a lecture about it if they don't ask me first... I don't mind if they ask to come through with me.. I even over sometimes...

Jul said...

Come on now... in the interest of investigative journalism (or whatever the blogging equivalent of journalism is), you totally need to get yourself arrested and report on life inside a Swiss prison. I'm guessing they'll even supply you with a laptop and broadband so that you can do your blogging while you're in there...

Kirk said...

I had a couple of times when I got to the tram stop right as the tram was arriving and had to quickly decide whether to (a) buy the ticket at the machine and have to wait 10 minutes for the next tram, or (b) jump on the tram and risk getting nailed by the tram police. Luckily I was never caught, but I sweated the whole way home...

The DP said...

What I liked in Zurich is that they often gave you the chance to get off the tram at the next stop and buy a ticket under their watchful glare. After I stopped working in Geneva(where my AG was checked every day on the train), in four months of working in Lausanne I have only been checked twice. The sucker is that my AG costs less than my Lausanne intramuros bus pass would cost, so I am keeping it.
Swiss jails are REALLY CLEAN. Don't ask me how I know this, but there are worse places to be incarcerated.

mr. mac said...

It is after the fact TBF, but I must ask; what makes you think there are any Swiss in Swiss gaols? I suspect that the proportion is fairly low.

Last I heard it was the number one way to learn a Balkan language - fast!

The Big Finn said...

Mr. Mac - You have a good point there. I must say that I have absolutely no desire to learn a Balkan language, so...

I guess I'll just leave things the way they are.

Melinda said...

what a great blog!! :) kinda scary I guess .. cos it would be true on so many levels! LOL :)