So I surged on to make sure that I was at the right place, at the right time. I was very focused; hell-bent on being able to get to where I wanted to end up with on time and seamlessly merge with the train schedules that operate like a clock-work with precision and perfection. (as if!)
Plus, I made sure that my registered public transport smart cards or fondly known as the very precious OV-Chipkaart cards are never empty. I own 2 of them and I made sure they are well-topped up all the time. For real.
As soon as I got off at Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station, I realised that I had to hurry on up if I were to be able to catch my train towards home in time. As I battled through the crowd down the escalator as throng of people emerged from the nearby metro which had just vomitted its passengers out and merged in with the rest of the commuters, I noted that I had only mere minutes left.
If I missed that train, I would have to wait for at least another half an hour. It’s half an hour I do not have. Plus, I had to pick up the kids from their grandparents and given that it would be past 7 pm when I get to my destination, half an hour late is half an hour too late!
At the back of my head, I was looking out for the scanning machine to tap my card while running down the stairs and towards the train platform. Somehow, I did not see any but because I thought I had it tapped earlier from my previous ride, I did not give it much thought.
And as soon as I saw my scheduled train pulled up, I raaaaan for it. I forgot about the scanning pole altogether.
The train was crowded but I managed to find a seat. Within minutes, the train moved and it was not too long before the train conductor came on by. Absent-minded, I took out my wallet and offered him my chipkaart willingly. With a smile,too!
Then it hit me…crap! I didn’t scan. And not because I was trying to con my way out for a free train ride, but because I did not see the damn scanning pole with the scan anywhere on either platforms, I had GENUINELY forgot.
There was no wriggling out of this one after he checked the details on my card.
Sternly, right in front of dozen of other people, he told me off and said he was issuing me a fine. He asked me questions after questions like I was a criminal…ID, address, name, from where to where..the works.
He probably was just doing his job, but I found his tone rather condescending. I swear I felt like I was about to be hauled to jail, especially since the postcode which I gave him was apparently wrong.
Then he told me that if I need a lawyer, I would have to bear my own cost.
Uh! Really! How serious is this “crime” that I would need a lawyer? I swear on my kids’ life that I was not about to cheat a train ride. I honestly forgot because of 3 reasons:
the scanning machines at Sloterdijk were nowhere in plain sight – not on the platfrom, not at the escalators, not at the entrance I was at
I was running for the train and I had to be on that train
Had I spend just 2 more minutes looking for the scanning machine, I’d have missed my train
And need I repeat this once again? I.forgot.and.it.happens. Plus: Where are the scanning machines? Can’t there be one or two at the platform itself? It’s not like the train goes every 5 minutes, you know!
Yes, I have every intention to pay for the fine: It’s €50, I know it’s my fault, it’s completely unfortunate and I am super remorsefulannoyed regretful. In 14 days, I’ll get the invoice.
But it’s a fine that I’m not fine with; not under the circumstance I was put in.
So. There! My first fine in the Netherlands.
I had every intention to pay for my ride; especially since I had 2 cards, both topped-up well above the limit. I told the conductor about that too. I could tell by his tone and demeanor…that in his eyes, I am probably this low level criminal.
My crime? Sheer frigging forgetfulness.Urgghhh.
The sad thing about this is that I am very sure I am not the only one.