Rich free rider

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the real thunderstorm of the Moscow tram conductors was a certain, quite decent-looking, elderly man. The trick helped him for several years to ride trams for free.

Every morning he got on the tram and handed the conductor a "katerinka" - that was the name of the hundred-ruble bill at that time. And the amount at that time was large. Suffice it to say, for example, that the zemstvo doctor's salary was 80 rubles a month at that time.

Traveling on a Moscow tram cost 5 kopecks, it is not surprising that the conductors had no change in the early morning. Hearing the standard answer "no change", the old man got off at the next stop and got on the next tram, where he again presented his cherished hundred ruble note. Thus, he contrived to get to work completely free of charge.

Konstantin Paustovsky, a famous Soviet writer who worked as a conductor in his youth, recalled that all the conductors of this line knew by heart even the number of this bill - 123715. But they could not do anything with the convinced free rider. Unless, sometimes they said irritably: "Show your banknote number 123715 and get out of the car."

Once, Paustovsky decided to teach a free rider a lesson, who loved to ride, as they said then "at the expense of the Danish king." Having received a hundred rubles in small change on receipt, he began to wait for his old acquaintance.

When he got on the tram and handed out an irredeemable bill, the conductor slowly put it in the bag and began to count the change. When the passenger received his legal 99 rubles and 95 kopecks, he was furious. Calling the conductor "contagion", the old man, out of habit, got off at the next stop.

Having hit the carriage several times with a massive cane, the former free rider threatened:

- Infection! Rogue! I'll show you!

True, he was no longer seen on the tram. But the famous hundred-ruble bill with the number 123715 hung for several days in the tram fleet on a board for orders, fenced off with a wire mesh. Tired of the tricks of the free rider, the conductors came to admire this painfully familiar "trophy".

By the way, tickets in Moscow trams of that time had a certain color for each day of the week. This was done to combat the same free riders, so that they could not ride on yesterday's ticket.