I do love my exhilarating rides on the Velibs. But the system has more than its fair share of quirks and frustrations.
I feel like the bikes are generally in better shape this year than they were last summer (not as many flat tires, warped rims, busted baskets and broken chains).
And I’ve been lucky that the kiosks have always accepted my American Express card. Many foreigners’ credit cards don’t have the necessary pin-and-chip technology so the kiosks refuse their credit cards. Since most of us don’t know the first thing about credit card technologies (and why would we?), it just seems like the kiosks are being persnickety. Tres frustrant.
But what’s been killing me lately is that the kiosks are often out of paper. It’s like when you go to the ATM and there’s no paper for a receipt except it’s actually like when you go to the ATM and there is no cash because you need your Velib receipt for the code that lets you unlock a bike. So if you don’t get a receipt, you don’t get a code even though you just paid for one, and you have to go to another kiosk and pay again.
This has happened to me a handful of times in the past couple of months, and it’s always annoying. But this morning, it happened at two kiosks, back-to-back. I, like a New Yorker, banged on the second kiosk, willing the little slip of paper to come out and inspiring some curious and cautious glances from passersby. But the banging didn’t work so I took the metro to work.
And then the perfect a-ha moment came this afternoon when Trevor mentioned a nugget from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: When a situation goes awry, always look at where you messed up. Though it’s always easier to pin a snafu on someone else —for me, admittedly, it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction—if you take the responsibility, it’s easier to fix the problem. Better for your heart, too.
Tonight, I vow to sign up—finally!—for that annual subscription to the Velib.