Phone a friend or sleep in the metro station!

Yesterday started out as a mess – I forgot my wallet and only realized when I was halfway from home to the Metro station.

(I’ve been taking the train because of unusual heavy traffic in my area, in whole of Dubai actually that makes me clock in late at work)

I could not afford to go back to retrieve my wallet peacefully resting inside the diaper bag because I was already running late! Ah, I should have a work bag that functions as a diaper bag as well so I won’t have to transport my wallet here and there from weekend to weekdays!

A friend I go with to the Metro every morning went ahead to I called her and she bought me a one way ticket to my destination. I had 10 dhs in my office drawer so I planned to use that for my return.

At the end of the day at the Metro station, there were so many people queuing to buy tickets from the lady at the ticket booth but no one at the ticket machine. I wanted to go home as early as I can so I went to the ticket machine, put my 10 dhs bill and pressed the “SHORT TRIP” in the screen. It was 4 dhs and I got a change of 6 dhs along with my ticket.

Then I zoomed my way in.

Right after I passed the ticket gate I thought: “Did I get the right ticket?” I know it was too late to think about this. This morning, the ticket I bought was 4.50 and now I bought 4.00 – whatever, I’ll just be adding 0.50 dirhams in case I can’t go through the station gates at my destination, right?

So. Little. Did. I. Know.

Surely, the station gate sounded when I swiped my ticket. A security guard and station personnel closed in on me with inquisitive eyes. Oh Dubai, you really have this thing of making people feel like a fugitive at the slightest mistake.

Me: I think I bought the wrong ticket. This is a 4dhs short trip ticket but I suppose I should’ve bought another category?

Station staff: You can’t use this ticket from your origin to here.

Me: So do I just add 0.50?

Station staff: NO. You need an exit ticket and it costs 8.50 dhs.

{A small wave of panic}

Me: But I don’t have any cash even as small as 8.50. I only have 6 dhs. Why do I need to pay 8.50 anyway instead of the 0.50 difference??

Station staff: That’s the way it works here, madame. You buy the wrong card, you get penalized and have to buy an exit ticket.

Now I realize why no one queues at the ticket machines and would prefer to buy tickets from the ticketing booth, with a real person selling the correct tickets.

Me: But I don’t have cash. I left my wallet at home so what do I do now, sleep here?

Station staff: I have to call the station manager, madame.

The station manager came and I explained my predicament. She shakes her head and looked at me as if I am making up the i-forgot-my-wallet-at-home part.

Me: Hey, I come here every morning. Can you just lend me some coins to buy that exit ticket? I only need a couple of dirhams and I will come back here and pay you!

Station manager: No, we are not allowed to lend money.

*cue horror music*

I could totally imagine someone looking at me like this:

Me: So, what should I have bought? The 1 zone, 2 zone ticket from origin to here? What?

*3 station staff looked at each other and then silence…”

Me: SEE? You don’t even know what is the correct ticket category to press in that machine!! How much more for us passengers? How many people make this small mistake everyday? What will I do now?

Station manager: You phone a friend, ask for help, borrow from passers-by. Otherwise we CANNOT let you out.

This was the part where I wanted to shout WTF#$&@!*$ but that could land me in jail here. So I grabbed my phone – thank GOD I have battery and call time and phoned my lifeline.

What if a tourist shows up with a wrong ticket and has no friend or cash (wallet robbed, etc)?

My friend was laughing her way to ‘rescue’ me. I know it is my fault I forgot my wallet/train card but really? You risk of being detained at the train station for a mere half a dirham!?


  1. Never forget your wallet or train card at home.
  2. Buy correct train tickets. Do not trust your instinct – buy from a real person at the ticketing booth.
  3. Do not expect people to be kind and forgiving.
  4. Keep money for emergency in purse – wonderful suggestion by Twitter friend @Arminliya.
  5. Always have a friend to call.

By the way, today is PUBLIC TRANSPORT DAY – you are all free to forget your wallet at home and take the Metro/buses. Just have your NOL cards with you as you still need it to open the station gates.

Top Photo credit


  1. Oh my, it’s terrible! I remember too when we were taking bus in Dubai before, some inspectors were detaining people going further but had paid less. Yours is an honest mistake, and though I do not use the Metro, perhaps it’s better not to press the short trip button when using the automated machine. One more tip too (actually a habit of mine, hehe) : in each bag used, always keep at least Dh20 in the inside pockets…in case the wallet is, well, left behind or in the other bag, you still got some cash in hand 🙂



  2. I had this happen to me in Germany. Well, I got a ticket at the machine, got on the train and sat down. The conductor came through and was yelling at me (in German) and waving his arms all around. I don’t understand German! When the train stopped he chased me off the train and grabbed my arm and dragged me into the station, like a criminal! Turns out I sat in a First Class Car with a normal ticket! So, shoot me! I tried to explain and finally an English speaker was found and he explained what I had done. I was about to be arrested, and I burst into tears! I was sobbing and these men were standing around staring at me. In the end, they let me go, shaking their heads at the stupid woman!



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