Token Token

If you live in this city, no doubt you know by now, unless you’re in a catatonic state, that soon the MTA will be increasing its fares.* And while I really don’t think the increases are very fare fair (groan), what really rankles me more is that they are going to phase out the subway token.
Although I’m modern enough to use a Metrocard, I still think the token is a nifty little fella. It makes for a much more valid souvenir than the Metrocard and has a certain old-fashioned cache and appeal that just can’t be found in yet another lifeless card that fits neatly into a special wallet compartment.
The token is more sensual. It makes a distinctive sound when dropped into the turnstile slot. It can be warmed in its user’s palm, spun on a table. Made into a necklace charm. But the Metrocard? It’s silent and flat. It can be worn on a chain around its user’s neck along with an employment ID card and even has a little pre-punched hole toward one end expressly for that thrilling purpose. It’s just another ubiquitous magnetic-stripped card to be “swiped”. Feh.
I prefer things of more substance. Although I don’t use them that often, I like the metal tokens. Same way I like actual metal keys instead of card keys. I like the weight of the metal in my palm. I like that tokens and keys can be turned over and over in my pocket. I like that they have shape and texture. I like knowing that their shape and texture are the very elements that enable them to allow me access to what I need. I like imagining the token fitting into a special slot that only it can fit into, and the key’s jagged edge sliding into a lock that only its specific shape can open. I love the sound of a lock actually being turned. Swipe cards are so vanilla. So generic and bland. They are the equivalent of a Ken doll’s “smooth spot”.
So anyway, now I feel compelled to go out and buy a token before they go the way of the dodo. This is the same way I feel whenever someone says that pennies are going to be eliminated. I feel like I want to stock up on them — not so I can eventually take them to one of those change machines and convert them into paper money, but so I can preserve them like medical curiosities in a jar. I want a token as a token of the way things “used to be”. The way I wish they still were.
*Read about it here and/or here.