Yesterday I did something in Barcelona you wouldn’t approve of. I got caught.
I was taking the Metro home from Placa Catalunya with a friend when it happened. We had just reached the barriers, when I realised my T10 (10 journey ticket) had run out. I had no money to buy a new one, so I decided to piggyback on Enrico’s last ticket. Yes me, the same person who’s too shy to call Bingo, because I can’t stand the policing from the bingo ladies. The very same person.
It went swimmingly at first. We went through the barriers and down the escalator with a spring in our step, riding high on illicit excitement. I was rubbing shoulders with the world of crime here! Oh what a rush! I could probably start calling the African dudes on Barceloneta beach ‘brother’ after this. Surely they would recognise a fellow hustler when they saw me?
Sadly my life of crime was short-lived. We got to the bottom of the escalator and paused to check which platform the train was on. That was our undoing.
‘Perdona!’ the calm but firm voice of the guard sank like a rock in my heart. Three seconds of pretended deafness and preoccupation later, he was standing in front of us blocking the way. Sh*t! Enrico turned on his best ‘let’s be friends’ expression. In Catalan, he explained how we were generally decent (erm?) law-abiding commuters who always bought a ticket, but today we were broke. ‘Unfortunately for you, my supervisor saw you and sent me to get you. You’ll need to talk to him’, the guard explained patiently. I kept my mouth shut so they wouldn’t realise I didn’t speak Spanish, much less Catalan. An easy feat when you’re trying to figure out how to pay a 25 Euro multa (fine). It may not seem a lot, but it is if you had to try and steal a 1 euro and 25 cent journey to begin with. Great! I’m going to jail for 1.25 Euros!
Back at the barriers, the guard instructed me to stay behind and took Enrico over to talk to the supervisor. Oh the agonised guilt. Oh the gnashing of teeth and kicking of self. It was several minutes of the nail biting kind, before Enrico reappeared, looking sheepish but pleased. No multa? ‘No multa. But a little gift’ he said as we rushed to catch the last train. Gift?
When he met the supervisor, he had repeated his story- Honest citizens with a cash flow problem. The supervisor listened and nodded before giving him a light warning and letting him go. A 10 year veteran of Barcelona, Enrico pushed his luck, ‘Thank you very much, but I can’t go anywhere. Like I said, we used our last ticket’. ‘Ah yes’ the supervisor moved towards the ticket machines, ‘Where do you need to go?’ ‘Les Planes sir’
Enrico flourished a full, free T10 ticket, laughing incredulously.
So, like I’ve said before Nan, Barcelona is a fascinating city. Every once in a while She gives you a great thumbs-up when you really need one. Most other days though, She uses another finger.