Friday, June 27, 2008

Hunting in packs

Is ther rhyme or reason, I wonder, behind the delpoyment of ticket inspectors by train companies and stations? It would be nice to think that there was some kind of strategy, some guiding hand that brings groups of ticket collectors together at a certain station to do their ticket-collecting thing. The fact that you never see just the one ticket collector anymore suggests that there must be a plan behind it all. But it's hard to credit that any coherent plan could be so seemingly random in they way it manages deployment. You can go for months (honestly) without seeing hide nor hair of a ticket inspector on any train. But then, all of a sudden, a group of them (And what is the collective terms? Gaggle? School? Herd? Who knows?) turn up out of nowhere and start "giving it the big I Am", demanding to see tickets which they never look at properly, giving out erroneous platform information and generally making nuisances of themselves.

This happened the other morning. I bounded joyously off the train at Finsbury Park (new job, you see) and charged down the steps to descend to the Underground station, only to encounter a Group (or perhaps a Gaggle) of burley TCs waiting at the top of the staircase. Why it needed five of them I don't know, because they seemed to function according to the well-known "coffee shop law" whereby the greater the number of staff, the longer it takes to perform the task. But it meant we all had to stop in our tracks and fumble around in our pockets for tickets we didn't normally need to show at this point in our journey, causing a bottleneck at the foot of the steps down from the platform and clogging everything up just in time for the next train to arrive and dispatch it's cargo of rush-hour traffic.

The following day, they were nowhere to be seen. Maybe they've been deployed to another station. Maybe, in fact, they are the only ticket inspectors on the whole network, and they get shunted around en masse every day, just to remind commuters that the Authorities are keeping an eye on them. No wonder you never see them in the same place twice - that's a lot of stations to get round.


At 12:45 PM GMT+1 , Blogger Rish said...

Surely you are not actually complaining about the fact that people want to look at your ticket? I am aware that you have those electric barrier things, but surely a little warm, human interaction with these friendly individuals doesn't go amiss?

Hang on, what have I just said there?


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