Tram Random 4

by Kat Arnsby

I unashamedly used sexuality for gain today and I’m not proud of it.

Alright, I’m a bit proud of it. It’s not something I use often, I’m very aware of a woman’s ability to use her sexuality to manipulate heterosexual men, but I deeply respect the weaker gender, and so do not abuse the power.

Also, let’s be frank here, I’m not a fucking supermodel; I am not a statuesque, gaspworthy silhouette of a woman that lights up a room on entry. I will inevitably trip over something when I enter, leave, or stand still in the middle of a room, and then swear as loudly and explicitly as an angry sailor. If I want to use my sexuality for gain, I have to work a bit harder for it, so a little ripple of pride is allowable, if not admirable.

I was on a tram, I’m often on trams, and this is the first time I have ever whipped out the sex card on the tram. (If you’ve ever read a sentence with more instances of the word ‘tram’, let me know, I wanna shake the author’s hand.) One of the principle tram rules is that all passengers should have a ticket in some form. It could be paper, electronic, a weird card that they’re trialling that confuses everybody (did we learn NOTHING from London?), either way, you need a ticket.

Today, I did not have a ticket. Society crumbles before our very eyes.

I have one excuse, and one piece of mitigation.

Excuse– the tram was at the platform when I got there and I’d have missed it if I’d bought a ticket. I’d have had another 15 min wait and I’d been travelling since quarter past July. Fuck off, it’s a good excuse. If you think it isn’t, you don’t suffer enough public transport.

Mitigation– I have lived in Manchester 12 years and this would be the 6th time I haven’t paid for a ticket, on average using the tram 3 times a week. I am a model citizen, so kindly bite me.

You can probably tell from my tone that I know I was in the wrong, but I didn’t have a ticket, there was nothing I could do and now the inspector was headed towards me.

He was about 50 and 5’8”. He had a wedding ring, was bald, slim with an impressive tummy, had soft jowls, and big, smiley eyes; he seemed like a decent chap from the off.

“Tickets or passes, please.” He said to me over my copy of the Metro.

“Ah.” I folded the Metro. It left ink on my hands. “I don’t have one.” Inspector Tummy blinked at me.

“You don’t have one?”

“I don’t have one.” I pushed my long blonde hair coyly behind my ear and blinked back at him.

“Erm. I’m going to have to ask you to get off at the next stop.”

“Not a problem, officer, it’s my stop anyway.” I giggled sweetly and ran my tongue across my teeth, more of a periodontal necessity than a seductive gesture at the moment, as I have a gum abscess, but he wasn’t to know that. I’d called him ‘officer’, for crying out loud, that’s hot.

Awkwardly, the next stop was about three minutes away, and between him and his colleague they’d checked all the tickets and he had nothing to do but stand next to me and wait. He surveyed me smiling at him, taking in my large suitcase and two other bags.

“Why haven’t you got a ticket?”

“The tram was there, it was right there when I got to the stop. I didn’t want to be left on the platform alone, late at night.” I did the Bambi eyes so hard that I almost certainly looked like Schwarzenegger at the end of Total Recall. He looked a bit scared; he simply wasn’t ready for this jelly.

“Where have you come from?”

“A good question,” I did not see the light of philosophy in his eyes, so I answered, “Bath Spa.”

“Let me see your train ticket.” I seductively withdrew my rail ticket from my breast pocket and blinked adorably, mainly because my eyeballs were getting dry. As he studied my train ticket we pulled into Deansgate and got off the tram.

I steeled myself for giving a fake name and address, the excuse for that more serious, and blatantly fraudulent, crime being that the no-ticket fine is £100, which is excessive and I will go to prison before I pay that, on principle alone.

“Now, let me explain the procedure to you,” Inspector Tummy stood firmly between me and the platform exit ramp. I reckon I could have outrun him if I’d made a break for it, but I’d have had to leave my luggage, and as any self-respecting drag queen knows, you never leave a shoe behind. I was going to have to flirt my way out of this, on one of the 10 days a year that I wasn’t wearing a low cut top.

“I’m really sorry.” Little pout.

“It’s alright. If you tell an Inspector that you don’t have a ticket, they’re going to charge you a £100 fine.” I thought about legging it, bags and all, but his colleague had also got off the tram and he looked nimble, so I said:

“Oh no. Wow.” And pouted until I tasted blood.

“However… your train ticket covers you to Manchester Central Stations, which includes Deansgate. You’re a lucky girl.”

“I am a very luck… wait, you mean I actually had a valid ticket?”

“Yep. Have a good evening.” Inspector Tummy wandered away across the platform to his colleague, checking his watch as he did so.

As I left the tram stop, all notions of sexuality forgotten through sweating my luggage down four flights of stairs to the tune of some pretty ripe language, I realised that Inspector Tummy had not noticed or responded to my ‘sexuality’ at all. He’d done his job in a polite, efficient and helpful manner and then checked his watch to see how long it was before he could go home to his wife.

I felt like a fool. I’d instantly gone to a place that I criticise other women for. I hadn’t even considered any other possibility. Why hadn’t I been a belligerent git and gone with the fake name plan from the start? Why did I think I could use my tits as a tool to get something for nothing?

Inspector Tummy is a good tram inspector. I firmly believe that he would have done the same for a spotty teenage lad who had sworn at him; Inspector Tummy is a good man.

I’d love to say I’ll never attempt to flirt my way out of trouble again, but it would be a lie. I am clearly pre-disposed to it, and unfortunately I have collected too much previous evidence that it often works. Look out for it, gents, be like Inspector Tummy and check your watch. And girls, careful where you use it, or risk being like me, an unwitting and eventually embarrassed, fool.

The other thing that occurred to me shortly after was that I have been getting train tickets to Manchester Central Stations and then buying a separate tram ticket for 12 years at an approximate total cost of £250 not including VAT and interest. Cough up, Manchester Metrolink, you can’t flirt your way out of this one.