There is a God. I know for sure because, on the 21 June I used a monthly subway subscription that was supposed to expire the previous day and it worked! I could read on the display of the new turnstiles that had just been installed that it was valid until 20 April 2020. I had very few money left until the salary and no cash and I had found my faith and prayed with all honesty that I would not have to spend anything else the whole month.
Divine intervention or not, the ticket kept working long after the July salary. When I noticed it was September and my ticket still worked, I became arrogant. I showed it to a friend after I had just used it to get into the station.
– Check this out for me, will you? When does this expire?
– April 2017.
When he realized, he screamed like a little girl.
– It should work until 2020.
– And you are letting me touch it, tarnish it? Are you crazy, take it back, I do not want to be responsible for such a treasure.
I enjoyed his reaction. I decided to show the ticket to as many people as possible.
A friend, female, 35, who is into psychology:
– So that’s why you were handling it so delicately when you pulled it out of your wallet.
She knows me very well, I still remember when she donated me her high school sweater in perfect condition and I managed to tear a hole in less than 20 minutes of wearing it.
Another friend who just quit working in a corporation and was living off savings until he opened his own little restaurant:
– I wish I was this lucky. With such a ticket I could afford to survive with 30 RON every week (approx. 7 USD).
– How in the name of all that’s holy do you live off that money in Bucharest?
– I cook once a week, a shitload of chicken with rice and that’s enough for me. I don’t really spend on anything else.
Men. I get bored halfway through my meal and steal off colleagues’ plates.
My former dorm mate, 4 years younger than me:
– If you managed to pull this one when we were leaving together, we would not have had to raise money for the cheapest baloney and bread, like we did when we hit rock bottom, remember?
A friend of mine of the same age, former financial student:
– You just saved 70 RON per month plus inflation, until April 2020. I will make a forecast of how much public transport tickets grow exponentially and let you know a few statistics.
Then, I showed it to my mother, 58. Every time I have to tell her age, I need to calculate 30 (when she had me) plus my actual age. Job: Failed mathematics and physics teacher. She was more of a literature aficionado but she was pushed towards a technical profile because that was the only reputable field during communist times. They sacrificed creative people like my mom on the altar of industry every day. She was lucky one of the older teachers took a liking to her and decided, when they met on the train one day, he was going to ask her mathematical analysis teacher to pass her. The third time. Besides being creative, she was also very beautiful, I guess that helped. So beautiful that she was randomly asked on the street if she would want to be an actress. She ran away, afraid it was not artistic movies and the party would condemn her.
– How did you walk around with that ticket without reporting it, sweetie? Aren’t you afraid they will trace it back to you and knock on your door to take you to jail or fine you?
– Who would prosecute me, dear mom? The subway inquisition?
After I explained GDPR to her, my mom found a new reason to worry:
– And are you so heartless to not care about the person who made a mistake and gave you this ticket? What if he was fired because you did not go back to return it?
I had to remind her people now have employee rights, as well. When she was pregnant with me, they fired her because she felt sick like any pregnant woman and she lost the right to teach anywhere else than kindergarten. She recently earned that back but she now likes kinders. I also reminded her she should not sympathize so much with metro clerks who sit around all day and have twice the salary of a teacher who shapes young people’s minds.
– So, you see, mom, if it was a gentleman who thought I was pretty who gave me this ticket, he is safe.
That made her happy, then sad because I did not take his phone number. In her mind, I am exclusively guilty for the fact she is not a grandma.
– Why do you want a nephew so much?
– To teach him how to swear at you.
Even after all these explanations, my mom was still acting as though the ticket was jinxed.
She was right. One very busy morning, the guard at Dimitrie Leonida was force-holding a door open and he let people pass as they were showing him their tickets. I gave it to him, too, out of inertia. He pushed me back.
– It’s not valid, Miss.
I was never so afraid in my life. Through the terror, I managed to rip it out of his hand before he tore it. I stood to a side, pretending to search my bag, then I slowly went to a different gate. I was lucky once more or the demiurge of the metro is a merciful God.