It's cold. You're standing outside in a light rain, waiting for your bus, which is 10, 15, 35 minutes late. Finally it comes, and as it approaches your stop, you scramble to produce your ticket, juggling a bag or two, your gloves and wallet. You find the ticket, but your accoutrements outnumber the hands you have available to hold them. What would be the harm, you think, in sticking the ticket in your mouth -- just for a second! -- until you can get your wallet back in your pocket and your gloves on your hands? Think again.
Here is a cautionary tale, from the Montclair Watercooler:
and attempted to give the driver a ticket he had briefly held in his
mouth. At this the driver took umbrage, telling the gentleman that he
could not use that ticket and must get off the bus. Gentleman wishes
to get home, and NOT off the bus. He takes a seat. Stand off ensues.
Bus driver calls the police. A number of other passengers support
the gentleman and attempt to argue his case. No dice, he's forced to
leave the bus. My wife is not sure how he got home. Bus delayed 10
minutes while all this happens.
I was once guilty of gumming my ticket before handing it to the driver. I did it reflexively as I rushed to compose myself, fearful of holding up the line behind me and earning a scolding from the driver. Well, the driver scolded me anyway -- for my lack of hygiene. Unlike what the poor bastard above experienced, my driver took my ticket, but as he did so, he lectured me as if I were a three-year-old. After my initial fury at this condescension had passed, I felt sympathy for my driver. He was right, his utter tactlessness notwithstanding. Nary a DeCamp ticket has passed my lips since that morning.
I see both sides of the issue: Drivers shouldn't have to handle spit-soaked tickets. It's unsanitary and just plain gross. Riders shouldn't have to deal with those ridiculous county-fair-style ticket books. (A monthly pass, anyone? A swipe card? These are not exactly radical inventions at this point.) And they don't deserve to be verbally spanked over such a mild offense, much less hauled off by the police.