Street crime in Dublin claims another victim
Last Sunday afternoon I became another statistic in the growing wave of crime sweeping tsunami-like through this fair city. I was mugged.
Now the amount was small, a mere 60 cents, and I suffered no injuries except to my pride, thanks be to God, but it was the brazen and blatant manner in which I was parted from my hard earned spondulicks that concerns me.
Not a care in the world, I was heading into town to claim a seat in my favourite hostelry for the Liverpool Arsenal game. I waited for my bus and when it arrived I jumped on board, my one and half Euro fare clenched in my hot little hand. "1.55, please" I said politely to the driver. He smiled back at me and issued my ticket.
My suspicions should have been raised on the spot, since smiling amongst Dublin bus drivers is something that occurs about as often as Halley's comet and is usually only occasioned by some dark and preferably painful misfortune befalling a passenger or other road user.
As I proceeded to my seat, I noticed a tattered black and white notice sellotaped just to the rear of the driver's cab. It announced the institution of a flat fare rate of 95 cents for all journeys made on Sundays in November. I knew nothing about this act of beneficence on the part of Bus Átha Cliath but the driver should have. I looked at my ticket. Instead of the 1.55 I had paid, it showed the flat fare of 95 cents. Clearly he did know and in the interests of reducing next year's subvention decided not to share the secret with me.
A Dublin highwayman makes good his escape
Now for those of you unfamiliar with the system on Dublin buses, all fares are deposited in a strongbox attached to the driver's cab. The drivers themselves do not handle cash or give change. If you don't have the exact fare and you're lucky enough to have a driver who can be arsed, the excess will be marked on your ticket and you can redeem the few cents you've overpaid by waiting for 3 days in the queue that snakes along O'Connell St out of the doors of Dublin Bus Headquarters.
Nor do they accept notes. This a source of much amusement to bus crews and native passengers alike at Dublin airport when a gang of Italian language students laden with handmade leather cases and designer rucksacks attempt to pay their collective fare in paper Euros on the number 16 to Harold's Cross. They get on in a playful and noisy flurry of bag stacking and then, having been peremptorily dismissed by their putative chauffeur, they slink off in a symptomatically Latin sulk, muttering about omerta and vendetta and such like. Céad Míle Fáilte, me arse. That'll teach 'em to be more stylish and better footballers than us, wha?
Anyway, like most victims of crime, my traumatic experience has left me with certain questions apart from 'why me,Lord?' I can't have been the only one who didn't know about the reduction and paid the normal fare nor can I be the only one whose refund stubs never get redeemed because by the time I get off the bus my ticket looks like it has been ill-used in a group orgy of origami practitioners.
So what happens to the dosh, boss? Does it go into some secret slush fund used to train bus drivers in advanced techniques of sullenness, stunt driving and general misanthropy? Are Dublin Bus executives dining out in expensive restaurants and leaving their tips on the table in neatly stacked piles of 5 and 10 cent coins? Does it pay for the fine tuning of braking systems which can bounce a pensioner the length of the lower deck with the merest twitch of driver's right foot?
The public should be told.....