Minutiae, day two

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Yeah, I’m really on this microscopic thang. Bear with me, it will pass.

Today’s subject of my intense scrutiny is the ticket validator machines for CalTrain.

Here’s the situation. To catch a commute on the train you gotta have a ticket to get ‘er done. Some people do single rides. You buy that day of from a machine at the station. Some people do a monthly pass. You get that in advance (or from the machines). You just flash that to the conductor and it keeps you on the train.

But for many of us, we buy a ten-ride ticket (more cost effective if you ride occasionally, not every day). So in order to get a ride, you have to punch your ticket. So to do that, you slip the ticket into the validator machine and it punches your ticket, stamps date and expiration time (four hours), and cuts off the ride number on the side.

Here, better to go visual on this. Please excuse the crappy iPhone photos.

Here’s what a ten-ride pass looks like:

Note the slots for the rides and you can see the numbers off to the side. You can see that this morning I punched off the number 5.

Here is the validator machine:

And obviously, here’s how it works:

So here’s my question. One of those “you’ve got way too much thinking time on your hands” type of deals.

What happens to all of those punched numbers? I mean, look at the machine, it’s not that big?

A LOT of people punch their tickets every day. And as evidenced by the fact that they are always out of ink, the CalTrain people don’t service the machines very often. So the punched numbers build up in there…I’m guessing.

Where do they go? I assume they stay up there in the red part, but that doesn’t seem like a lot of room.

And when they service the machine, what do they do with the little numbered punchouts? Like confetti in there?

I posed this last night to The Good Man and he patiently suggested that they save them up for the CalTrain New Year’s Eve parties.

But I really am curious. I mean, I suppose they just toss them out, but given that there are, like, 24 stations punching both northbound and southbound riders, that’s a LOT of little punched numbers. It seems like something useful could be done with all of those?

Or am I over thinking it? Don’t answer that…

Because mainly, all this ticket validator scrutiny was just me trying to distract my “no wanna go to work” mind. Succeeded, too, for a little while.

So while you too ponder little numbered confettis, here’s my “art shot”…a glance northbound up the tracks, to help get you in the pondering mood.

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