To Swipe or Not to Swipe


Member since February 24, 2011
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As I live in New York City, I rely almost entirely on the public transit system. I love the system, especially because I'm able to zone out with my head phones, listening to music and reading something interesting (magazine, book, etc).

What also normally comes with public transportation however, are the individuals who need to ride but might not have the means to do so. This brings me to my topic: when is it appropriate for me to swipe my card for other people who ask me to do so when I'm leaving the station.

For those who don't know, swiping a metro card is the act of paying (essentially) for one ride throughout the city. I always get an unlimited pass, which costs approximately $100.00 per month. Now, when I see people who are less fortunate than myself, I always think I should do something, anything, to make their day just a little more comforting. And hey, swiping a card doesn't seem like a big deal, right? I am SURE that if you are reading this and living in a big city, you've dealt with the same problem, maybe just on a different level. Do you give that homeless woman or child enough change to pay for her ride? Do you make a conscious effort to throw a bill into the hat of the desperate looking man who walks through the subway asking for food?

I always swipe my card for these people, but I wonder if it's solving anything. I wonder if I'm doing a disservice in the long term, by facilitating their tendencies, instead of using my intellect and connections to consider a better method, a method that could empower them to discover another way, one that doesn't require begging.

New York is just like any other city in the world, expensive and tough to live in amongst so many others crowding around. So my question is simple, how do you all react when someone asks you for a swipe, change for the bus, etc?

For the time being, I suppose I'll keep swiping for them, but is it the answer?

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