I forgot my wallet on the way to work today.
I didn’t sleep well, it was pouring rain, and I was already running late, so by the time I got to the subway, the thought of retracing my steps, trekking back up four flights of stairs and into my apartment was not going to fly. I decided right then and there to wing it.
To start, I turned around while facing the subway turnstile to the man standing behind me.
“I’m so sorry to have to ask…” I began. “But is there any chance you have an extra swipe?”
He did a quick split-second double take and then declared, “Oh, sure. Why not?” And swiped me in.
“Thank you *so* much,” I repeated. “I forgot my wallet today, and I’m already running late, so I mean…”
But he was already gone, through the turnstile and down the subway steps. My first test was complete.
The next thing I normally do on my way to work is buy a coffee by the office. There are a couple of places near our office that I love, and I knew I had two options: Go to the place I frequent the most in the mornings and ask them to spot me — or go to the place where I have enough points racked up on a loyalty card to get me a free coffee.
I opted for the latter.
“Hi, I’d like to use my points please.”
“Sorry, we don’t accept points on rainy days,” the cashier smirked at me.
“Oh, well that’s too bad, as I left my wallet at home today.”
In the end, I had enough points stacked up to cover my latte.
At work, I had a mid-afternoon meeting cancellation, which spared me the embarrassment of not being able to buy someone a coffee. But I also missed the office lunch order, which meant I was on my on.
I decided to try my luck at a local carry-out Thai food spot I love. By the time I arrived, the line was already out the door.
“Do you accept Apple Pay?” I shouted over 3-4 people ahead of me.
“Of course!” she replied.
Crisis averted. The pad see ewe beef had never been better.
I was feeling pretty good about the rest of my afternoon until I realized that I’d be unable to get home without another free subway swipe.
I could walk home, but it would have taken a good hour, and I had more to do at home tonight, so I decided to risk it. Thankfully, a colleague slipped me a $5 and two Metrocards as a failsafe.
“They’re probably expired,” he warned. “But might as well try.”
As it turns out, they had expired. By this point, stubborn as ever, I decided I was only prepared to use the $5 in case of emergency. I did the thing you’re not supposed to do — and waited patiently by the rear station entrance at a subway station where no pay machines or cashiers existed. I waited until a full subway car of rush-hour pedestrians exited the station, and as soon as the emergency exit door was propped open, I took advantage of the window and slipped through.
I made it home in short order, went upstairs to retrieve my wallet, and then took myself out to dinner.
And that was my wallet-free day in NYC. As it turned out, aside from the subway card swipes, I barely missed it. Maybe it’s time for NYC to move (like Chicago has done) to an Apple Pay compliant subway system. It certainly would have made a day like today even more seamless.