In the summer of 2014, I worked an internship in New York City. For three months, I lived in a big city on my own. I learned a few lessons in independence, but none as depressing as the story of the Metrocard.

I was buying a monthly pass on my Metrocard each month. One day, with about three weeks left in my final month, I was heading into the subway after a long day of work. I reached into my wallet for my Metrocard, and it wasn’t where I usually kept it. I started to panic a little, because, you know, monthly passes aren’t cheap, and in my panic, I dropped my phone down the entire staircase into the subway. I ran down into the subway to get my phone, and rationalized that for now, to get myself home at the very least, I would have to buy a new one. I popped my credit card into the machine, made my selection, and out popped my credit card again. With nothing else. The machine ate the Metrocard. I couldn’t BELIEVE my bad luck!

I went to the ticket agent and explained what had happened. He was nice enough to let me into the subway for free, but that wasn’t going to fix my problem. I still needed a way to get around for the next three weeks. The next day, I had to buy yet another monthly pass (this is the third one if you’ve been counting).

It’s been half a year since and I’ve since been reimbursed for the one the machine ate. I still keep the (second) Metrocard in my wallet. I don’t really think about it being there, it’s just habit now. But I do look at it once in a while and think, “Oh, hey, try not to lose items worth more than $100!” It’s a harsh reminder of my independence.