Making sense of European mass transit

Traveling through Europe, Andrew and I had a lot of trouble with mass transit. In fact, we probably did a lot of unnecessary walking so we wouldn’t have to deal with mass transit systems, but hey, it was a backpacking trip, so it wasn’t a huge deal.

When we were in Brussels and Amsterdam, before we gave up on mass transit, we’d buy "tickets,” but we couldn’t figure out what you were supposed to do with the ticket. We were able to get on and off trains without having to do anything with the tickets. This was particularly scary because we saw signs that roughly translated to, “yo, if you’re freeloading, we’re going to bust you up.”

Later in Amsterdam, we realized that there was a box where you were supposed to punch your ticket with a timestamp, but we couldn’t figure out how to get the timestamp to show up in the boxes. Apparently, the mass transit system is part honor system, part IQ test.

So what’s my advice on dealing with European mass transit? You really gotta be ready to fight. When people with official looking hats come asking for your ticket, start acting like it’s in one of your pockets. Meanwhile, look for the path of least resistance to the exit. When you reach into your pocket, rotate your shoulders to cock your punch back. When you take your hand out of your pocket, form a fist, and BAM, right cross to the face! Then RUN LIKE HELL! And while you’re running, always look both ways, because those trams come from NOWHERE.

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