Merry F***ing Christmas

M

y dislike for Christmas is notorious, but this post is not directly about that. It’s only that the events just happened to take place today, Christmas Eve…

The prelude to it took place a few days ago, when some miscreant thief broke into my car.

The story of the burglary does not matter here, fact is that I had to arrange for my car to be repaired but at the same time I still needed to go to work (60 km from Amsterdam and back) to a location that is badly served by public transport (1.5 to 2 hours by train + bus and just 55 minutes by car and even less by motorbike).

Since the idiots (aka politicians) governing this Country have long ago made the huge mistake to chase away business from the cities by creating huge areas of no-man’s-land where no people actually live but everyone needs to reach to be able to work, the generic use of cars has increased to the moon and back, mostly because of the parallel deterioration in the quality of public transportation.

So this morning (Christmas Eve) I had again the dubious pleasure of needing to use public transportation to accomplish the following:

  1. Walk to the bus-stop
  2. Take the bus to Amsterdam Central Station
  3. Step over to the bus going out of Amsterdam to the location of the car shop
  4. Walk from the bus-stop to the shop that had repaired my car’s back window
  5. Drive back home
  6. Take the lease car and bring it back to the lease company
  7. Walk from the lease company to the Metro station
  8. Take the Metro to Amsterdam Central Station
  9. Walk home

Obviously, all steps involving public transportation were going to be a sheer disaster.

1. Walk to the bus-stop
This is not very complex and even less far, but this morning the wind was chasing the rain at 7-8 Beaufort (51-61 Kmph to 62-74 Kmph) and walking was not a nice experience.

I normally dress in trail clothing, so I can’t say I wasn’t equipped, but even so I got wet anyway (which I passionately hate) because naturally, the wind blew all the rain straight into the bus-stop shelter.

2. Take the bus to Amsterdam Central Station
Anyway, after the unplanned cold shower, once safe and dry on the bus, I had my pre-paid transport card ready. I know that I use public transport maybe once in two or three years, but I charged the card with my money, so there was no problem… I thought.

ticket01

As soon as I wanted to check-in and electronically activate the fare, the gimmick on the bus told me the card was expired.

Immediately, my Christmas spirit sunk below freezing point and of course I begun telling the driver that he and his bosses were thieves: my money does not “expire”. My money had been transferred to that card and I don’t care what the Dutch Transit Authority says, it’s still my money and it’s still there. I did’t (and still don’t) give a shit about their card… if it expires, that’s their problem, but my money is there and I want it back.

The only answer was that the amount was not refundable once the card had expired and that I could either buy a new one, pay for a single fare ticket, get out of the bus or wait for him to call the Police.

I must say that I was tempted to choose for the “wait for the Police” option and then ask them how they were going to solve the theft of my money by the f***ing  Dutch Transit Authority.

But hey, it’s almost Christmas and they say we must all be nicer to each other… I really had to do my best to keep my patience in the green zone, though I was slowly but steadily moving towards the yellow. Moreover, I was in a hurry to get the mess sorted out and finally go back home to my wife, a good book and old movies, which is the only way I can conceive how to spent the wretched Christmas holidays.

So I bought a single fare ticket (with some of my money that was apparently not expired…) and I was happy to see that it gave me 1 full hour to reach my destination. Happiness comes cheap these days (2.80 euros)

ticket02

3. Step over to the bus going out of Amsterdam to the location of the car shop
So I had reconciled with the idea that the Dutch Transit Authority was a nest of thieves, but that there was somewhere also a little hope to redemption.

Once arrived at the Central Station, I started looking for the bus to the “Industrial Zone” (were the wretched politicians have relegated all kind of business that are not clothing shops) and was actually expecting to have to wait again in the rain for 20 minutes… nothing was more untrue: the bus I needed was waiting for me to get in and it was sheltered under a broad roof of steel and glass, which will look something like this once it’s finished (will I live long enough to see that?):

station01

Anyway, I boarded the bus and proudly handed over to the driver my just acquired hour-ticket.

I immediately told by the embarrassed expression on the face of the nice Suriname lady, that something was not entirely right.

She actually managed to blush and notified me that the company running the line to the place I needed to reach was a different one, therefore my “GVB” hour-card was not valid and I needed to buy a separated ticket for the “Connexxion” bus,

OK, now the patience-meter was definitely in the yellow zone, tending dangerously to red. Nevertheless, though not a Saint, I’m able to walk on the face of this idiots-infested Earth and still keep my homicidal instincts as low as some complex inner cursing.

So I bought the wretched new ticket:

ticket03

Though still valid for one hour, I had no need for it once I had reached the car repair shop. But hey, once again: happiness is as far away as 2.50 euro…

On the other hand, with 5,30 euro (the sum of both fare tickets so far) worth og fuel, I would have been able to drive my car at least three times the total distance I had to cover during this whole adventure, and back.

…And those clows (aka Dutch politicians) claim that Public Transport is cheaper than the car. God bless the idiots.

Anyway, after boarding bus #2, I just needed to know when to get out.

The Dutch Public Transportation website reported that the bus was going to stop exactly on the road where the car shop was located: Klaprozenweg, which translates into “Poppies road”, a poetic euphemism to conceal the dismal atmosphere of the industrial zone at the north periphery of Amsterdam.

I knew already the area a bit and knew as well that that road (leading probably to Kingdom Come) was something like 2-3 miles long, straight and crossing a couple of broad canals (nice to cross over on this day of storm and rain).

Anyway, the web site’s map showed multiple bus-stop marks, so I was not (yet) very worried.

Once the automatic system announced that the next stop would be “Klaprozenweg” I promptly pushed the button and the light for the stop reservation went on… while the bus kept running along the wretched industrial desert.

I moved to the driver and though there’s a sign clearly telling that you should not talk to him (or her, like in this case), I took my chances and politely asked why she was not stopping.

This time she was finally aware that she was talking to a full-bred public transport hater and did not dare to hide the truth from me: the Dutch Transit Authority had removed “just a couple” of bus stops and that the only remaining one was at the end of the Klaprozenweg (here visible on the top left):

 

klap01

Why was I not surprised…?

4.Walk from the bus-stop to the shop that had repaired my car’s back window
That was only 1 mile long, in the wind and rain, through a desolated landscape of little industries, big DIY markets and every meter of it as pleasant and inviting as a colonoscopy.

With my Christmas spirit now around sub-zero temperatures, I finally reached the car repair shop (Carglass).

The guys there were exceptionally warm, good-mannered, helpful and understood that I had not had the best start of the Christmas Eve day, so they pampered me with warm tea, coffee and biscuits, a microfiber car window cloth, a bottle of auto window cleaner, a flagon of window anti-freeze spray and a new back window wiper, because the old one was a little worn and it was for free anyway.

Wow! As soon as you leave the dreadful influence of Public Transport and move back into the warm embrace of car-land, everything becomes better, fuzzy and warm and you really start to get the Christmas feeling back, little by little.

Anyway, because the Public Transport adventure had taken more than one hour, I was eager to move on and get back home.

5. Drive back home
That takes exactly 11.75 minutes (door-to-door), which once again proves that you can better travel by car, at least if you want to be on time, dry and in cheerful spirits once you reach your destination.

6. Take the lease car and bring it back to the lease company
That was a 13 Km long drive to the opposite side of the city, which took a scanty 18.75 minutes, during which I had music, a comfortable (and dry!) seat, an inside temperature regulated to my preference, no dripping umbrellas, no jerks and bumps at every stop, no other people boring you to death with their interminable telephone calls about the most irrelevant things or sitting with spread legs so to force the other passenger to sit on a half chair and other amenities.

The Christmas feeling meter was now comfortably back into the green…

The paperwork at the lease company was handled swiftly, I got more coffee and cookies, which I could partake in a comfy and soft chair, while waiting for the inspector to check that I had returned the lease car in the original state (no scratches and a full tank).

After exchanging the due Christmas wishes, he informed me that to his utmost regret, because of the reduced staffing during the Christmas days, there was no-one available to give me a ride to the closest Metro station. One of the guys was due to be back in 30 or maybe 40 minutes, if I had the desire to wait…

Since the Metro station was (on the map) less than 15 (walking) minutes away and it had stopped raining, I decided to go ahead and walk a bit.

7. Walk from the lease company to the Metro station
What could have been a simple task, turned out to be a more complex affair than I had in mind.

The distance from this particular section of the south-east “industrial area” (Amsterdam Zuid-Oost) to the Metro station was not the problem; finding a way out definitely was.

The square I was located in, had the same simple layout of a Roman system of roads crossing each other at 90 degrees angles (‘cardo e decumano’ system), so I knew exactly where I was and where I needed to go to get out…

Wrong!

Because of large roads running all around, and having those roads only very few pedestrian crossings, I ended up at the “north” side of the square without being able to cross over.

After a few inner curses and the Christmas feeling meter back to deep yellow tending to red, I found out that only the apexes of the square had pedestrian crossings. Now I know why all road planners are recruited among the large pool of students who fail to become civil engineers. These people have really no clue what they’re putting on the drawing boards…

8. Take the Metro to Amsterdam Central Station
Obviously, my previously (in step number 2) acquired 1-hour ticket for the bus could have been used in the Metro as well, was it not that the simple act of taking the Public Transports had costed me hours already.

So with that in mind and walking through a new kind of industrial desolation (this time, all awful structures of glass and concrete), I entertained the idea of buying one “personal card” like the one I had (the expired one).

While knowing in the darkest and deepest corner of my soul that it had to be a bad idea, I still though that it might come in handy every now and then… maybe.

Once at the Metro station, I approached the vending computer and happily noticed the carpet of discarded tickets, receipts and so on. How much would it cost the City to put a trash bin near the f***ing thing?

Anyway, I selected the menu for a new “personal and anonymous” card.

You can also buy a “personal” one with your name address and so on, which is also re-chargeable and does not “expire” on you, but looking at the absolutely disgraceful security scores of the system (it had been hacked even before it was deployed and the whole system is an insult to all the rules about privacy), there was no chance I would ever do that.

So there I go, select a card that is pre-charged with 5.00 euro, just enough to take the bus a couple of times. If necessary I can re-charge it at a supermarket or station…

That is fine until you see that the total amount is 12.50 euro: so I have to pay 7.50 euro for a f***ing card that will eventually expire? Does the Dutch Transportation Ministry think they can rob me again of some more money? Are these people really out of their f***ing minds?

I immediately canceled the operation and chose again for a single fare 1-hour ticket at 2.80 euro.

9. Walk home
This was the best part of the day.

The wind had dropped, the rain was gone, some blue was already peeking through the clouds, I was near to my comfy home and couch, my own car was safely in the garage and knowing that it (actually a “she”, just like my motorbike…) will keep bringing me on time where I want, when I want, comfortably and without irritations.

So it is time for the Christmas wishes:

Merry F***ing Christmas to all politicians, Dutch Transit Authority officials, Public Transportation policymakers and all related rabble.
I wish them to reincarnate in the Country with the worst Public Transportation system on Earth and to remain poor enough to never be able to buy a car so they’ll be forced their whole life long to desperately hang onto the roof of a rickety bus with a drunken and half-blind driver, day in day out, until they end up in a ravine and finally learn their lessons.

To all the rest, I wish to stay with the force, to live long and prosperous and , why not, to have a…

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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