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January 2nd, 2007


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03:36 pm
The T's new Charlie Card has an RFID chip inside. RFID is an acronym for "Tracks Your Every Move Makes Things Easier (for) You." Please refrain from arguing that RFID doesn't stand for Makes Things Easier (for) You and how the acronym would be MTEY anyway because that's how acronyms work. I'm doing my part to make things easier, okay, and just look at how much easier things are when we conveniently ignore how acronyms work for the sake of a cheap joke involving the strikethrough tag!

Anyway. The thick plastic card does make things a bit easier. With the new Charlie Gates, there's no more sliding a plastic monthly pass through the old turnstiles' card reader and getting racked in the goolies when the reader doesn't take but you attempt to walk thru the turnstile anyway. (This is how we learned never to trust the card reader enough to do a swipe-n-run in one fell swoop as the train approacheth.)

And using the new Charlie Card in conjunction with the new Charlie Gates means no more feeding a flimsy plastic Charlie Ticket the unintuitive side up into the new turnstiles (I do consider it unintuitive, even with a big bright orange arrow on the "THIS SIDE UP"; we've been conditioned since our first bank/credit card to present cards front face up when necessary) and then waiting forever for the gates to open before we realize we have to take our card back first.

With the RFID-inside card, all you need to do, they say, is just approach the gate, tap your Charlie Card on the little black square with the green glowing dot and hey presto, as long as you have "value" on the card, the gates will magically open and permit you access to the Land of the Trains with the blessings of Charlie himself.

I was actually pretty excited to get my brand-new Charlie Card monthly LinkPass. The LinkPass, of course, is pretty much a new word for the old Combo Pass (All together, now: "C is for Combo to ride the bus and T! Hey!") Since the Subway-Only pass was consumed by the Combo Pass, they decided to give it a new name. Much like how certain beverage-serving establishments have phased out the "Small" drink so that now the "Medium" is the new Small, the LinkPass is the new Combo. Or something. I really don't know.

All I know is that last week I got my free card from the nice lady at South Station, I approached one of the Value Adding Electronic Value Adder machines, put my credit card in the reader correct-side-up, said "yes pls charge me 59 bux thx" by pressing the "yes pls charge me 59 bux thx" button on the machine's screen, then tapped my new Charlie Card against the V.A.E.V.A. machine once. Then I went to the nearest Charlie Gate and tried tapping my Charlie Card against the little black square with the green glowing dot. The card was recognized instantly and, since it was still December and my pass was good for January, I was rewarded with the farty "YOU SHALL NOT PASS" sound.

Well, now it's January and I'm gettin all the rides I can on this little card. I have also made the following spot checks of the RFID reader to see just how well it can read the chip.

Let's take a look!
  • Tapping the card out in the open: CHECK!
  • Tapping the card while it's inside my wallet: CHECK!
  • Tapping the card-in-wallet while in my front pants pocket: CHECK!
  • Tapping the card-in-wallet while in my winter jacket pocket, as that's actually closer to the black square than my pants pocket is: CHECK!
  • Tapping the card-in-wallet while it's in my back pants pocket, which effectively means I can open Charlie Gates with my butt (and so can you!): CHECK!
All in all a very successful set of checks, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Short of swallowing the card and attempting to open the gate with my stomach, I believe I can open the gate any way I please. The Butt Option would of course be the most fun, but it is complicated by the fact that I had to lift my jacket up and back up into the card reader once or twice due to bad aim and a slightly lower pocket than I thought. This looks just as inconspicuous as you'd think and I am sure that repeated attempts in this fashion, especially in front of the South Station security bubble, would result in my backpack being "randomly" searched. Besides, I don't like carrying my wallet in my back pocket. Throws off one's center of gravity.

This means that I'm optimally going to go with The Winter Jacket option, as I can now nonchalantly approach the Charlie Gates with my hands in my jacket pockets and make the gates open without it appearing like I'm doing anything at all. THEY JUST KNOW I'M COMING, ALL RIGHT?

Maybe it'd be more fun if I actually intoned "By My Command, Magic Gate Doors, Open For Me!" or something while performing this magical movement. But then I'd have to wear a fake Bluetooth headset so that people wouldn't actually think I was talking to myself, because we can't have anybody thinking I'm crazy, oh no. Not the guy who's opening Charlie Gates with his butt.

 


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