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September 10, 1998: The Year in Review

MBTA nixes French money for fares

BOSTON — Thousands of area commuters were shocked yesterday by the MBTA’s announcement that it will not accept French money on any of its 790 trains, buses and ferries.

"In point of fact," MBTA commissioner Joe Marscarpone said, "the MBTA has never accepted French money. Nor shall we ever accept it."

Elaborating on Marscarpone’s statement, MBTA vice-chairman Louise Hassenfeffer told reporters, "We at the MBTA don’t even believe that French money exists and it’s hard for us to accept it as true."

Asked what French people could possibly do to facilitate the easy and convenient exchange of goods and services in today’s global economy, Hassenfeffer said, "My impression has always been that the French used a barter system, not a monetary one. The MBTA’s coin and card slots are not designed to accept livestock or other products of a pre-industrial economy."

Caught off guard by the MBTA’s announcement, hundreds of commuters were stranded in bus and train stations with baskets of eggs, herds of cows and sacks of primitive iron implements.

Braintree resident Kathy Sutton wanted the MBTA to know just how inconvenient many commuters found the new policy. "Who do they think they are, condemning an entire economic system to irrelevance just because of some slots? And anyway, I bet a small chicken could fit into one of the slots — mostly at least."

Many French citizens were also stranded, each with a similar story to tell.

"When I tried to purchase a, how do you say, token, I found myself ignored by the token-man. He would not acknowledge me, I suspect because of my accent," said Pierre Lachaise of Lille, France. "I cannot blame these token people. But I am sad." Later, the MBTA arrested Lachaise for killing an Arab, despite the official disavowal of his existence.

The MBTA’s insistence that a modern nation-state is recognizable only by certain external factors, such as an internationally tradable currency, has caused a crisis among French citizens in the Boston area. For the time being, the French embassy in Washington has recommended that expatriates relocate to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where native residents have agreed to accept alternative forms of currency.

Marscarpone urged reconciliation. "The MBTA pledges the recognition of all European cultures as separate and distinct, regardless of whether or not there is a nation-state attached to each cultural group," said Marscarpone. "Nevertheless, the process is a complicated one and we meanwhile have a transit authority to run."

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