True Tale from Commuterland, starring an extremely loyal Metro rider, Karen Sloan of Silver Spring.

"I woke up extra early this morning," Karen writes, "and had time for a leisurely breakfast before getting dressed. As I'm picking up stuff from my dresser to put into my bag, I say to myself, 'Yes, I need keys and my building security card, but, no, I don't really need that extra pen, and as for that dollar bill, well, I'm sure I've got plenty of money in my wallet.'

"Famous last words.

". . . I arrive at the Metro and get on line at a Farecard machine. I start rummaging in my wallet for money. I see only two 20s and a 10. Trouble, folks.

"How about change? No luck, only about 40 or 50 cents. I ask around. Does anyone have change for a 10? No.

"... I start retracing my way home. I stop at a gas station. Any change for a 10? No luck. I hit a convenience store where at last someone can help me. I buy a book with one of the 20s and start walking back to the Metro stop.

"I get on line at a Farecard machine again (the lines are longer now), two fives in hand. All of a sudden, a frantic-looking woman appears. 'Does anyone have change for a 20?' she cries.

"'I've got close to that,' I say. I manage to scrounge up close to $19, which she accepts gratefully.

"Happy New Year to all faithful Metro commuters!

"P.S. I just barely made it to work on time."