Saturday, June 30, 2007

Train Jumping Lesson 1: The Basics

Like many other things in life, train jumping is an investment. What that means is that it involves putting in time and effort, sometimes a few nerve cells, a bit of money (occasionally a lot of money), with the expectation of getting something back in return, now or in the future. You must weigh carefully the cost against the benefits of such an investment, and decide for yourself whether committing train jumping is worth your while.

There are many non-pecuniary reasons as to why people would commit themselves to train-jumping: satisfaction from breaking the law, from being smarter than the authority, or simply peer pressure from fellow schoolmates. Nonetheless, the first and foremost benefit of train jumping is indubitably the monetary gain that it generates. Let's admit it, train jumping saves bucks, and when carried out effectively, a lot of it.

Consequentially, let's first focus on monetary rewards as the most basic determinant of your decision. In particular, I have roughly mapped out the following steps you need to take to become a good jumper:

1) Preliminary Research:
You cannot beat the system unless you become the system. Ride the trains a couple of times with tickets to familiarize yourself with the system, the more the better. Observe the stations, the trains, the conductors, the ticket counters, even the cameras. Questions that seem trivial such as "Where are the bathrooms located on the train?" are crucial to your success.

2) On-site practice: Practice a couple of fake-jumps, i.e. act as if you're jumping but have the proper ticket with you. Push it to the edge. Explore all possibilities. Pretend as if you don't bring a ticket and observe the conductor's reaction. Rush through the automatic door after someone else after your ticket has been validated and see if the ticket vendors care. Remember, you're not breaking any law by being suspicious. Be as clumsy and childish as you want to be. In Vietnamese we have a saying, "cười người hôm trước hôm sau người cười." This is your time to appear idiotic at no expense to you. Treasure it, because in step 3 the price for a pair of nervous eyes will be dear.

3) Actual performance: After you've done your market research, it is time to launch the product. Be confident, be bold, but not delirious. Don't flatter yourself with your own success. Remember the jumper's motto: "A successful train jumper is not one who never pays for his rides, but is one who pays just enough to not get caught." In other words, you don't have to jump all the way and all the time. When in doubt, try a less risky option, e.g. purchase a youth ticket instead of an adult one. When afraid, purchase a ticket anyways. A good train jumper cannot afford to be nervous. He is steel, or he pays. It is as simple as that.

4) Exit Option: Occasionally, your performance drops to the ground, and your act is uncovered. What should you do? Use everything that the your heart and your head have at your disposal. Can you fake crying? Try it. Can you pretend that you've dropped your pass? See if it works. Didn't bring a Youth ID? Some conductors just may let you through out of niceness. How low are you willing to go to escape a booking? Will you beg? The commitment level of your act is entire up to your choosing. Just remember, it is your game and you should taken responsibilities for your actions.

I hereby conclude the Preliminary steps in learning Train Jumping. I hope you have by now understood some of the fundamental aspects of this crafty art. It is indispensable that you know what you will be facing because like I have said, the consequences can be very, very serious.

See you at the next post.

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