On Today’s Public Transportation Discovery

I had a cannister full of nickels at home. There’s a problem when you have a change jar; it’s that if you don’t spend it, change can be really difficult to get rid of. Hence, a cannister full of nickels. And some dimes. Plus the occasional quarter.

I decided this morning that while it’s all well and good to pump a five dollar bill into the fare machine at the subway terminal, there was really no compelling need to do so, not when I had this cannister of nickels I could just as easily spend.

And so, I loaded up my pants pockets with nickels and dimes and other shiny coins, and off to the parking garage I went.

My plan went exceedingly well at first. Oh, I wasn’t paying the fare down especially quickly, but I was paying it down, and my pockets weren’t as weighted down with shiny metal coins.


There was a limit to the number of coins the fare machines are willing to accept.

Thus, still owing fifty-five cents on my metro day pass, I could pump no more coins into the fare machine.

I ranted. I raved. I wailed.

All in silence, of course. To have done otherwise would have been unseemly.

Instead, I frowned — not an unseemly thing to do — and shoved the coins I had left, far more than the fifty-five cents I still owed, back into my pocket.

Fortunately, I had a dollar bill in my pocket. One dollar bill. Plus some fives. But, after all those coins, I wouldn’t have wanted to put a five dollar bill into the machine.

The dollar bill made everything good. I got back forty-five cents change — for all I know, coins I had put into the machine myself — and my day pass.

Other than that, there was nothing remarkable about the morning commute.

But I did learn a valuable lesson. Don’t pay the subway fare in nickels.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

5 thoughts on “On Today’s Public Transportation Discovery

  1. Primarily: I’m sorry. That’s awful and inconvenient… and broken.

    Secondarily: I am not dead, nor am I ignoring you. I’ve been painting dorm rooms by day and playing a tabletop campaign by night, and it’s devouring my time. I will be in touch soon!

  2. That’s annoying. <_<

    (Probably not the coins that it paid you with, though. Admittedly, I’m only familiar with the U-Scans and not other automated payment thingies like vending machines, but those don’t bother to sort the coins; they basically dump them all into a plastic bin, and it’s left to the cashier or an external machine to later sort them prior to reloading them into the dispensers.)

  3. Oy. Sorry man. But you can get paper rollers from the bank and deposit rolls of coins into your account. 🙂

  4. I suppose I could roll the coins. (Actually, it’s what I’ve done with the pennies. I haven’t gotten past rolling the pennies into doing something with them, but they’re rolled.)

    For now, though, I’ve basically cleaned out the coin cannister. Which is something I’ve held on to for what must be fifteen years now. My youngest sister did a fundraiser in junior high school, selling Gummi Worms in metal cans, and I’ve used that metal can — which has a coin slot — ever since. From state to state and city to city it’s gone with me. As Gandalf said of Shadowfax, it has been my constant companion through many adventures. 🙂

    And yes, it’s both annoying and broken, limiting the number of coins one can put into the fare machine. Of course, the programmer probably never thought that someone would ever put that many coins into the machine. 😆

    That’s okay, though. I got my revenge, if revenge you want to call it.

    I flattened a penny on the rail as the Light Rail train passed by. I’d been wanting to do that for a while, only I kept forgetting to carry pennies with me.

    Sometimes, I’m such a kid. 🙂

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