We’ve been using the St. Louis MetroLink system a fair bit here in the evenings to go out to eat somewhere that isn’t a shopping mall. It feels fairly safe (although I’m not sure whether the sign saying ‘no concealed weapons allowed on these premises’ makes me feel more or less secure) and never seems to be that crowded. It adds a little dimension of urgency to the meal, too. Because as well as the normal single and all day travelcard type tickets they also have a ‘two hour’ ticket that costs 25c more than the regular single. At the beginning of the evening you have a choice – get the two dollar ordinary ticket and pay another two dollars to get home – or spring for the extra quarter and hope you can get in and out in the time alloted (don’t try this at home – American restaurant service is generally a lot brisker than its UK equivalent). It’s become something of a game. The first night we got the ordinary ticket and would have had loads of time on the two hour ticket. The second night we sprung for the extra quarter but travelled further afield and had to buy more singles to get home. Last night we were determined to make it work. Our waitress was confused by our accents (‘water’ became ‘warm tea’) and seemed to lose the plot completely at one part of the meal; however with the bill on the table, the complicated bistro-mathics equation satisfactorily solved, and the clock ticking, we had a dilemma. Did we wait for our change (saving four dollars) or did we leave her with a rather over-generous tip in order to get back to the station in time for our tickets? In the end the lure of the tickets won. We managed to scramble together enough change to leave a suitable but not monstrous tip, and left the restaurant with indecent haste. We made it with three minutes to spare, saving us the grand sum of $1.75 apiece. In retrospect, this may well turn out to be the highlight of the trip.
I think I’ve been away too long.