Monday, September 9, 2019

Tapped out

Smart. Simple. Secure.

So says the self-proclaiming TAP Card used for entry and egress on the Los Angeles Metro Light Rail.

I'm here to tell it's none of the three.

Last week, seeking to escape the brutal 54% humidity (that's high for Southern California) and the equally brutal 89 degree temperature, my wife and I decided to visit the California Science Center near USC. We had been wanting to see their big DOG exhibition. And the museum is conveniently located next to a Metro Stop.

That's an oddity in itself, as all Angelenos now know.

For instance you can't take the Metro to LAX. That would have made too much sense. Instead the Metro gets tantalizingly close with a station about 1/2 mile outside the airport in the grungy shadow of lovely Hawthorne. Which would be ideal if you wanted to get an aerobic workout in before your flight, lugging an oversized Samsonite down urine-scented Century Blvd.

Equally illogical, the Metro doesn't quite make it to Dodger Stadium. It doesn't even come close.

It's as if the city planners had never heard of Chavez Ravine. Or, if they did they assumed it was a new boy band from Juarez. Or, and this is much more likely, the greedy owners of the Dodgers said, "Get that shit out of here."

The Dodger Stadium parking lot is the goose that laid 24 karat gold bars. Parking is now $25. And I imagine if the team gets in the World Series, it will double or triple in price. And eager fans will pony up the money so they can witness all the action from the 3rd inning to the top of the 7th.

But my main beef with the city's Metro system is the city's TAP cards.

Whoever concocted or approved this archaic, dysfunctional, wallet-robbing system ought to be shot. Oh wait, we live in PC times where I'm not allowed to use such language. I don't want the Thought Police serving me a no-knock warrant.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. or Ms. Tap Card Designer had already been tapped for a higher position in Precedent Shitgibbon's Department of Transportation. That kind of mediocrity has a way of rising to the top.

Half the time when you tap the TAP card on the entry machine, it doesn't register. The other half of the time, when it does register, it says there is no balance left on the card. As a result, you end up spending the rest of your time trying to reload the TAP card with money at a vending machine that has been designed by Lucifer himself.

These blue monstrosities are a study in inefficiency.

The bottom quarter panels of the box have to be replaced every six months as a result of all the kicking they receive from frustrated steel booted wannabe passengers.

In fact, because of all the incumbent screaming, cursing and violence these machines induce, the reloading area has been rated MA, for mature train riders only.

In order to reload these damn cards, you've either got to be a rocket scientist or some kind of Slovenian escort/genius who managed to secure the Einstein Visa,

The process is so intentionally infuriating, it seems most people choose the only option that does seem to work: the one that suggests you buy a NEW TAP Card for an additional $1.75.

You may think I'm exaggerating or conflating this little nuisance into something it's not. There's a lot of that going around these days. Just ask the folks in Alabama. But I kid you not.

And to prove it, I offer you Exhibit A.

These are the cards my wife and I currently have in our possession. The collection does not include the many cards my two daughters own. Or the ones we've tossed in the recycle bin because you can't fucking reload the things!!!

CASHIER: Thank you for shopping at CVS, here's your receipt.

MTA SUPERVISOR: Hold my beer.

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