To encourage people to drive less because of ESG - OR maybe to say a tiny sorry for all the livelihoods they squashed during Covid (guess which one I think it is) the Mallorcan government decided that all public transport would be free this year.
Well, like all “free” stuff it’s not really free - the taxpayer who also pays exorbitant fees and taxes for owning a car must now pay for other people’s transport as well, but there it is.
As a resident, I am entitled to free travel as well, and a few weeks ago I trotted over to the central bus and train hub, a 50 minute walk, to get my hands on a free travel card.
Oh hoi! About 200 other people had had the same idea, and I saw at once I stood no chance. Meh! Whatever. Sour bus journeys hang high, and who has the time to go gallivanting around the Mallorca countryside anyway?
But a few weeks later the lure of the free drew me back to the station; this time quite early in the morning. The room was packed, but I got a queue ticket, number 52. The number on the screen was 37. I could wait! And wait. After 20 minutes the number had soared to 39. I am no mathematician, but even I could see that the road to 52 would be too long. I gave my ticket to an ecstatic new arrival and legged it grimly home.
Three weeks later I turned up at 8:45 on a Saturday (the office was supposed to open at 9) and BINGO! Only ten minutes past nine a bored clerk opened the door. This time I was second in line. I came well prepared, with my passport, my resident card and my Mallorca ID card. Yeah, baby! Soon I’d be adventure-hopping all over the island, completely free! (As if I couldn’t have done that before for a very low price).
The clerk studied my documents with great care. Then she seemed to get an idea:
“Do you have proof of address?” Er, I have proof that I am a resident and an ID card?
“No no no. You need proof of address.”
“I have this document (showing my address and ID number on a piece of paper stamped by the government from last time I went to the mainland)?”
“No, that is from a different department. That is proof of address for travel. You need to go to the department for proof of address.”
Ahhhrghhhhh. OK. So yesterday I turned up 0900 sharp, with all the documents and more, ready for battle. But where was the screen with the little numbers?
I should have known. Between my last visit and this one, the government had changed the routine and you now needed to make an appointment online before you could go and apply for a free bus card. I scanned the QR code and: Friday 12:48 I’ll have my chance again! Yeah baby! If time is money I have wasted more money to get something “free” than I would have spent on buses and trains during the whole year anyway, but I will see this through.
And all’s well that ends well - swinging around the Chinese supermarket from a different direction now that I had so much time, I discovered a brand-new Sichuan restaurant!!!
Today's Cantonese: 排隊 - pai doi - stand in line