This morning, with my heart full of indignation and my pocket full of dimes, I walked to the ticket machine at the Wellington stop. At the end of each quarter at Northwestern, our CTA passes expire and we have to go to the Evanston campus and get a new one on the first day of class. I had bought a 7 day pass to tide me over spring break, but it was already expired.
I realized this morning that I no cash, either, and the ATM was several blocks in the opposite direction of my train. I raided my precious stash of change and came up with $2.25: twenty-one dimes and three nickles. I started putting dimes into the machine.
Nineteen dimes in, the ticket machine flashed “no more coins.” I was perplexed, having never seen any human or robot refuse to take my money in Chicago. My confusion must have shown on my face, because a beardy CTA agent came over to see what was going on. He nodded comfortingly: “Oh yeah, no more coins, don’t worry about it. Just hit cancel.” The machine spewed my dimes back at me, and I scooped them up and moved over to the next machine to try again. Before I could stick a single coin in, he stopped me and swiped me through the turnstile on his pass. I tried to give him my dimes, but he just shooed me up to the platform.
Long story short, I rode the train for free. And so can you, with a pocketful of dimes and a suitably bemused look. Try to use this power for good.