16, a number truly perplexing and mysterious at its very core. This number is sixteen separate ones, this number is the legal age in which you can consent to sex, this number is the number eight times two, this number may be the number of times your Mum told you to take the chicken out the freezer before she came back. This most profound and elusive integer is all of these things, but most importantly this number is the age in which you must begin paying for adult train travel.
Now when you as human reach this number in age you become, in the eyes of the big train god, an adult and with this comes the trivial and often impossible task of paying adult train fare.
At 16 there is a very short list of things that you are capable of doing by yourself, mine consisting of eating and sleeping,truly a complex and diverse list of skills and capabilities. But if you look carefully at this list you will notice that paying for train travel is not on there, and why is this you ask? This is because I am poor. But wait, not only am I poor, I am also unemployable! What does this mean for me you ask, well I’m glad you enquired my friend! This means I have no means of getting money besides handouts from my parent and selling my dick pics to that one creepy guy on gumtree who won’t seem to leave me alone (his name is dave). Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lucky few of us out there who beat the odds, an aryan race of teen who’s people skills and brilliant personal qualities help to solidify them a job. But the problem still remains that when you work 4 hours a week every Sunday, making £1.50 an hour + tips, and your check comes at the end of the month telling you that you are the grand recipient of £24.79, your probably gonna have to give the weird yutes who stand outside the train station bantering about ‘gyal dem’ and ‘weed’ a cheeky $2 sucky sucky just to afford the train ride home.
So where does this leave you? It leaves you purchasing the infamous child ticket. An age old friend, the child ticket acts as the 16 year olds greatest weapon, securing them train fare they don’t have to sell their siblings to afford. But there is a gate keeper to the happiness the child ticket brings, a gate keeper known solely as THE TICKET MAN… OR LADY. For entertainment purposes we shall call them ticket trolls.This monster has been around for years and inmost cases are really not too bothered wether you have a child ticket or not (these tend to be the older more gentle ticket trolls), but every now and then there arises a special breed of ticket troll. A troll who cares greatly about the ticket in which you posses, a troll who scanner in hand is ready to sniff out and smite all 16 and above wielding child tickets.
So I know what your thinking, is it possible to survive an encounter with these special trolls? The answer, you’ll be glad to hear, is yes and although i did not win my own battle with the special troll, I am living proof that you can survive. But my tale is a peculiar one and a reaallllllly good example of how not to handle a special ticket troll. So without further ado.
I stumbled onto the train unweary of the fact that a special ticket troll lurked in the distance. As I sat down I could feel a sense of danger in the distance but I settled, telling myself that there was nothing to worry about. Suddenly from behind me I hear her… “Tickets please.” I was shocked but i thought it best to keep my cool. “Here you go,” I replied wearily. “M8 your not a child, when’s your birthday,” she asked, a hint of danger in her voice, she was onto me. “The 29th,” I answered slowly a large amount of hesitation in my voice “Of…June,” this was the big moment, this was my chance to ride off into the sunset chariot ablaze, all i had do was say the year 2000. “…1998.” A truly interesting and unexpected choice deciding to make myself older than I actually was, the pressure too much for my feeble brain. I felt more stupid than the girl who thought that the STD’s she contracted in Vegas would stay in Vegas. “Sooo you’re 17,” a sense of victory in her voice. “Why yes…I suppose I am,” my voice now trembling with defeat. She had won, but this troll was different she let me live, not giving me the customary £20 fine but simply letting me top up my child’s ticket to an adults ticket. I guess all trolls have their day.
So use me as a cautionary tale. Practice your fake date of birth. And by god, try and survive the treacherous trials of juvenile train travel!