I had things all worked out so that I renewed my weekly ticket on a Tuesday. On a Tuesday, renewing my ticket was a breeze, hardly worth leaving any extra time to allow for the purchase: just a lightning surgical strike on the Quick Ticket machine and I’d be in and out of Vauxhall Tube station before more than a few bars of Mozart had been played.
But then I had to go and take a week’s holiday, and now I’m renewing on a Monday. On a Monday it doesn’t seem to be possible to allow enough time to renew my ticket and catch my train without it being a complete panic. Monday is the day everyone else buys their season ticket which means, of course, it was a good day for the Quick Ticket machine to decide it couldn’t read any oyster cards. It also means it was a good day for the Slow Ticket machine to helpfully cancel the purchase of the passenger in front of me when he took too long peering at the pin number pad, forcing him to start again from scratch. And an excellent day for one of the ticket office staff (out of a total of two) to decide to spend it with his back to the window, determinedly ignoring my feeble coughs and ahems and hopeful ‘hellos’ as I tried to renew my ticket the old fashioned way. And finally a splendid day for the passenger who nipped into the queue at the slow ticket machine in front of me while I was failing to get somebody’s attention, but before I gave up and went back to the machine, to choose to try and pay for his ticket with a fiver that looked as though it had been through the wash. Tried a good few times, I might add, before he gave up.
What’s that you say? Buy my season ticket the night before? I could do that, even though Vauxhall at night is a wild and scary place (if the state of the park in the morning is anything to go by) – but that would involve being organised. And planning ahead. And thinking about work on a Sunday evening – and that would never do.