I'm not one to break a lot of rules (except for that little Halloween Party in high school, but who remembers those things.. right mom & dad?). I don't speed, I obey all posted road signs (except for the occassional "Do not enter" but that was an honest GPS-induced mistake), I don't steal, I never even got a detention in high school! I was a bit of a rule-following wimp, until now.
"Riding schwarze," (or black, in German) means riding the public transportation system without a ticket. (I'm not sure if my dad made up this name or not, but I use it anyway). How, you might wonder, is it possible to even enter the train/bus/tram without showing and/or scanning a ticket? Well in certain countries, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are the ones I know, you can get on the public transit systems without proof of purchase. However, there are people that will occassionally check your tickets to ensure that you actually have one. And, if you don't, it's a pretty hefty fine. My family pays for my monthly train pass, but last month I thought, "Hmm, wouldn't it be nice to just keep that extra 82 CHF/month and ride schwarze?" The ticket checkers (for lack of a better term) check often on trains, so if I went into Zürich by train during the day I'd buy a ticket. But when I went after 7 it was free using my Gleis 7! Not a bad deal I thought. Also the bus that I take to Zürich never checks tickets (until after 9 pm) and I've only been checked on a tram once (when I had the monthly pass) so I figured I could get away with it. And I have thus far, it's just that riding schwarze doesn't give me a thrill, like I'm getting away with using a fake i.d.--it just makes me anxious, like the next person that gets on the bus/tram is going to be a ZVV ticket checker and I'm going to lose 80 CHF. Everytime the bus/tram doors open I become acutely aware of who is getting on and if they have the telltale blue uniform and red thing that scans credit cards for those without tickets. Told you I'm a wimp.
Yesterday on the way to the weekly au pair meeting (which I love and look forward to every Wednesday) I was riding the bus, per usual, without a ticket. At a stop halfway to Zürich I see a man with a blue coat get on and I immediately tense up (scanning every passenger when they get on not only makes you look guilty but also creepy for staring), he turns around and I see a "ZVV Something-or-Other" written on his coat and let me tell you it didn't take me more than 2.7 seconds to grab my bag and scoot off that bus. Luckily we were at a stop with a train station a two minute walk away so I bought a ticket and took the train in to Zürich.
I decided to shed my riding schwarze ways and bought a monthly pass again. I don't think my nerves could take it anymore!