November 24, 2004

The Rant: The TCAT Blues

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I gave in and bought a bus pass about three weeks into the year. I figured that having one friend with a car wasn’t going to cut it for ten months. And then a week ago I lost my card. In fact, it fell out of my card holder while I sprinted for the bus.

Exasperated, I went to Willard Straight where I bought the pass to get a new one. I figured that they must be used to students like me who lose their ID cards and subsequently their two-hundred dollar bus passes, ingeniously stuck on the back. Why couldn’t we have had some sort of thumbprint system or retinal eye scan? Even I could never lose that. But just to make it difficult for people without a car who actually need the bus, TCAT requires people to go to the transportation office for replacement passes. Let me tell you, it’s no quick jaunt. Foreseeing a busy week, I made a temporary pass for myself with a color copier, a friend’s pass and some scotch tape.

A week passed, and finally I gathered my strength and made out for the hinterlands. To save time I went by the baseball fields to get to Collegetown. Soon I realized that I needed to stop and ask for directions. I was told to take a footbridge over the gorge, and I would end up right where I wanted to be. Cursing the system, I went over to the steps and carefully made my way down the uneven wooden stairs to the bridge. When I got there I found a sign that said “Bridge Closed for Repairs” and some flattened orange fencing. The gods seemed determined to keep me and my bus pass apart. I stood for a minute and decided that the bridge looked sturdy enough, tested it with my foot and crossed it. Glad that I had evaded another obstacle, I continued along the path only to find six gigantic trees that had fallen and blocked the path. With that sunshiny ticket to anywhere in Ithaca in mind, I scanned the hill, searching for a way around the trees. I spotted my way out. I scaled the hill, climbed over three of the trees and under the other three. I followed the path, and emerged out of the woods like someone lost in the jungle who finally finds civilization, a little dazed and confused, but safe and agonizingly close to the office. I found Dryden and followed it until I finally arrived at the elusive transportation office.

But my adventure does not end here. I walked in and sat down in front of a transportation man behind his desk. Relieved, I handed him my ID card as he went to get me a new sticker. But obviously cursed, I had forgotten to take off my temporary creation! He turned the card over to find my not-so-excellent forgery scotch-taped to the back. I mumbled that it was not real and snatched it out of his hands to take it off and get rid of it, but he was too fast for me. He took the fake and stuck it on his keyboard to taunt me while he filled out my paperwork.

Finally he picked up the paper copy pass and told me that the consequences “for this” are severe. Then he smiled, crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. I walked out of the office, pass in hand. What have I learned from this? Those flimsy card holders from the Carol Tatkon center are tools of the devil.

Archived article by Becky Wolozin
Sun Staff Writer