Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fare Nazi's - Portland's Transit Police and Abuse of Power

So we all know those people that take their job too seriously and because they are unhappy in their life they hold what ever power they have over other people to somehow make themselves feel better. I am certain the people that do this must ultimately feel worse in the end.

We used to have a mailman that went to the extreme with his little power he had. We had just moved into our first home we bought together. The previous renters were mad and took random things including the mail box. So we went to Home Depot and bought a shiny new one and mounted it on the house, because there was no post and we thought it was more convenient. Silly notion we had that the mailman would actually get out of his mail truck and walk the mail to the door. He didn't! He said we had to have the mailbox curbside. So we took that mailbox back and bought another one and mounted it in the same spot the old one had been on the fence. But the mailman still wouldn't deliver the mail because he said it had to be 5 feet farther out. So we buy a post and mix some crete and finally put in a mailbox in what appeared to be the middle of the gravel road. But yes he would finally deliver our mail. I'll never forget the conviction this man had, and his life or death serious attitude he had about that fucking mailbox.

We all experience these situations where people become memorable for the wrong reason. It sure makes it easier to pick out nice people with these people in the world. Maybe that is their purpose.

But today some this everyday abuse of power caught me off guard. I just don't understand the idea behind this, and rest assured I am going to make a stink about it, because it is seriously jacked up.

In Portland the commuter train has this honor system. You don't walk through turnstiles and put your subway coin in, you are supposed to buy your ticket and the transit authority provides some nice random inspections to see if you actually bought your fare.

This isn't really that big of a deal normally. Usually what happens - during the day with the business crowd is a few fare inspectors get on the train at opposite ends of the train and start asking for your ticket. Then if they encounter someone who hasn't paid they usually ask some questions, call it in, what ever and then get off at the next stop to write a ticket.

Today I was coming home from my very first night class since I've been at The Art Institute. I get 3 stops away from my stop and the Fare Nazi's get on. I use that description borrowed from a lady who pointed it out when this happened.

tonight -

A Fare Inspector gets on the train, yells in a militant angry voice "Everyone get your fare out" then he speaks in a demeaning way to each person and yells at anyone who is trying to get off, even if it was their stop.  He treats them as if they are eluding police. When he came towards me and I couldn't remember where I put my ticket for a moment and I could see him getting agitated. He was acting like it was a freakin drug bust. Finally,  I find my ticket and he dismisses me. So as they continued their militant exercise a guy gets on who doesn't have his fare and asks if he can borrow either mine or another girl I was chatting with's fare in case the guy comes back. I say no, because I figured if he comes back he will ask for mine again.  The train had already started to move and I was discussing how rude and militant the transit cops were being.

Welcome to Trimet, we hate you.

When I got to my stop I gave the guy my ticket. Then I got off the train.  Guess what? Right out the door there is a Uniformed POLICE officer, not tranist police but actual Portland POLICE and I see two people that got off before me and He says "Well, Well, Well, what do we have here?" in a sinister way. I mean we just freaking got off a train and he acts like we are drug smugglers? So I try to go around and he says Mam I'll need to see your ticket.

I say, "I just gave my ticket to that guy" pointing onto the train.

He says,"go get it" So I go onto the train, and grab my ticket out of the guys hands and the freakin train takes off. I had to go 20 blocks away from my stop.

What has this world come to?

#1, why are police doing this job?
#2, why are they treating people like thieves "Guilty before proven innocent?"

Thats it I'm calling in the big guns I'm complaining to the head of Trimet.

Note: posted later on - I did contact the Willamette week and gave an overview of the issue but when a reporter called me I flaked out from being busy, and never called back. I regret that but it does seem like it has gotten better since then.