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An Open Letter to the New Contactless PennCard Swipe System

Credit: Ananya Chandra

Dear New PennCard Swipe System,

First and foremost, I want you to know that I forgive you. 

You probably didn’t see that coming. You know just as well as I do that you’ve hurt me. And you’ve done it more than once. But yes, you heard that right. I forgive you. Not because you deserve it, or because you’ve gotten any better, but because I can’t carry this anger in my heart any longer.

Let’s start back at the beginning. When you first came to Penn. I’ll be honest, I was excited to see what you’d bring to the table. At that point, I was getting pretty tired of the old system—the faulty swipe, the worn-out buttons, the routine of it all. I needed something new to spice up my life.

And that’s when you stepped in, Contactless PennCard Swipe System. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you waiting in front of my college house. You were dark and sleek—glistening, even. I couldn’t wait to hover my PennCard over you. You were so inviting….and I was so naïve.

The first few times were fun. It was a change, for sure. I felt like I had glimpsed into the future—a future without crude swipes or real, physical buttons to press. You were the light of the Renaissance after the long centuries of Dark Ages. But alas, the honeymoon stage never lasts….

You became fickle. Sometimes you’d let me in, but just as often, you’d shut me out. The first time you blinked red, I should have known it was a red flag. But I never gave up on you. I didn’t have a choice, really. You were my everything; the literal key to my building. Maybe even the key to my heart. I guess we’ll never know.

You’ve done wrong by me too many times to count. When I needed to pee after class (like, SO badly), you made me re-enter my PIN 7 times. When I was crossfaded and counting on you to play it cool (just this once, for the love of all things holy), you let me down. I got MERTed for that, by the way. What I’m saying is, you aren’t always there for me, even when I have no choice but to rely on you. And that’s not fair.

So while I forgive you for all the harm you’ve caused me these past few months, I still need you to know that things will never be the same between us. But if you’re ever ready to really, truly read my PennCard—not just look at it, but read it—and let me pass on the first try, you’ll know where to find me. If you can put in the effort, I’m ready to make things work.


The Student Who Just Wanted You to Let Her In