I have been really impressed with the public transportation T cards, which work on the buses and the subway, make it easy to transfer and so on. You just have to wave the card at a machine and it works, you don't need to remove it from you wallet or insert it into anything. To put more money on it you actually just place it on a shelf in a machine and it uses magic rays to recharge it (or something like that).

As I was saying, I was really impressed with it, until my suddenly stopped working today. I got on a bus but it didn't work. The bus driver just shrugged, which I interpreted as: ride as long as you need. I went to a subway station to work it all out, but trying to figure out how to get the money back that is on the card turned out to be an elaborate killer of the afternoon.

As I was thumbing through my dictionary in the station trying to find the correct phrase for "this thing is busted" or "please refund my money" a gaggle of junior high girls came up to help me. This has happened everytime I look lost, someone helps me, or at least offers.

Turns out these girls had an assignment to interview someone who spoke English, which they filmed on a tiny little video camera. When I said I lived in Virginia, the entire group said "ohhh, Virginia, where the shooting was" and made little gun shapes with their hands. I have also had that same response from my students. It is amazing to me that that is the association. It is really sad, isn't it.

Also, none of these people were aware that someone was shot and then just barely crawled to a gas station in my neighborhood in Norfolk the other day, or that three sailors were just shot in I-264 in Virginia Beach last night (I can't link to the full newspaper story because the links at the VA Pilot Online are not working for some reason)

With the help of my junior high translators who had adopted me I found out that the subway officials in the official booths won't do anything to help. You have to go to a special convenience store and they are hold the power over these cards. I could barely convince the translators to let me find the convenience store myself. It turns out I have to mail in the card and they will credit the amount to my bank account. Which means giving my bank account number and ID to the person at the GS25 convenience store and waiting for the refund. Hell of a system, no?

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