Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, May 26, 2021

dippity
My preoccupation with NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority continues.

This time, it involves a peculiarity with the MTA’s ticket vending machines. I snapped the above photo yesterday, while reloading my trusty MetroCard with a few bucks. Aside from the reflection of yours truly and the cameraphone, you’ll see what comes up on the machine’s screen when payment is requested:

Please dip your credit card

“Dip” your card? Who came up with this diction? I don’t think I’ve ever come upon this term before. “Insert your card”, which is what you’re really doing, is a common enough prompt; that’s what just about every ATM machine I’ve ever used flashes. ATMs are ubiquitous enough, so why not use what’s a fairly universal action word?

The dictionary definition of “dip” doesn’t cover this usage. I’m wondering if MTA arrived at it as a more relatable word for foreign-language speakers — this is New York, after all, and you have to make it as user-friendly as possible. Is “dip” easier to decipher for non-English readers than “insert”? Either that, or else it’s some sort of techie-ese that never got refined after the machines were released into the wild.

I’m not the only one to have noticed this weirdness. But apparently, I’m the only one who deemed it worthy of a dedicated post. I blush with pride!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/26/2006 08:49pm
Category: New Yorkin'
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