I had a bit of a run in with a Transit officer on a power trip today, and it left me feeling completely humiliated, worthless, and very panic-y. Before I get into the details I will preface my experience with this:
1) I have a very large, yet irrational fear of "people in authority" (aka, police, transport officers, security guards etc) Whenever these types of people are around I get super panic-y (I don't even have to have an interaction)I already struggle not to burst into tears when my train tickets get checked and I'm on my own, so the events that happened
2) I was in the wrong. The TLDR of my trip that day was my opal card came in the mail, and I thought "I'll buy a one way ticket, activate the opal card on the train, and use it on my way home" Because I'd gone through the ticket buying ritual, by the time I'd finished work I'd forgotten that I would need to use the opal as I only had a one way. It was a totally honest mistake, which would have been picked up by anyone looking at the situation logically.
3) When I activated my card, I put $20 of credit onto it, which was supposed to be ready to use in an hour, but for some reason wasn't. (There had been 3 hours between activation and my second trip)
When the transport officers boarded my train and asked to see tickets I'd realised my stuff up, so I did what any normal person would do, I apologised profusely, explained my situation, and complied with the officers requests. Now, it's important to mention here I was already struggling to keep it together. I was shaking with fear, which made my movements slow and clumsy.
After taking my details, and looking at my one way ticket he asked if I had any proof that I'd activated my opal card today, pestering me to provide an email proving that I'd activated my card. I explained that I had not received an email, but I could log into the app, which I did, but because it was the mobile app it had limited information, only showing that I had put $20 on and it wasn't done processing. Now this is where I really felt threatened, he asked me to show that I had enough cash for the return trip, which I showed him. He then said "Now, what I think is that you didn't have enough money for the trip, so have decided to risk the journey without tapping on. Had you had enough cash on your opal card or person I would have let you off with a warning.", even though I'd shown that I had more than enough cash to pay for the return journey. By this time I was in tears and pretty useless because I was shaking so hard.
Throughout the whole ordeal he was blocking my exit, standing over me and using a very threatening, accusatory, almost angry tone of voice. If I'd been insincere, unapologetic and rude to him the behaviour would have been appropriate. I was at the complete opposite end of the behavourial spectrum. I was compliant, very apologetic (because I felt like a complete idiot for not tapping on) and, even though I lost my composure at the end, I was polite throughout the whole interaction. He was also double my size, and using physically threatening body language.
I just don't understand why I would be treated as if I was threatening and rude when I was showing all the signs of being compliant and feeling like an idiot because I'd made a stupid mistake. I get that he was doing his job, but I feel as though he overstepped some major boundaries. I also can't help but wonder if I wasn't quite so feminine, or so much smaller than him if I would have been treated differently, because lets be honest, it's much easier to be intimidating when the person you're intimidating has literally no power against you. This encounter also won't do anything for my irrational fear of authority figures.Sorry for the wall of text, I just needed to get this off my chest.
On a slightly lighter note, this is what I wore on Sunday to my rehearsal with the New Empire Ballroom Ragtime Dance and Jazz Orchestra (I hope I got the title right. It's a bit of a mouthful, so we all just call it The New Empire). We're currently putting together our sets for the Newcastle Jazz Festival, which is an event we play every year!