You would think I was heading over the Tappanzee Bridge into Manhatten this afternoon with all the preparations I made. I filled my tank with gas, kicked my tires (even though I have no idea what they should feel like,) and even cleaned my windshield.
In reality, I was going from my home in Downingtown, PA to King of Prussia to meet my mom at her doctor’s visit. The trip is about twenty miles and should take no more than 30 minutes. Well, I have been caught on 202 in rush hour traffic, and it is not good. I decided to be “smart” and ask GPS lady the best way to go.
She directed me to the PA turnpike which was wide open, fast, devoid of traffic, and a TOLL road.
Two facts you must know about us to understand what is about to happen fully.
1. Chris thinks anything over $100 is expensive.
2. I never have any money.
I donned my Ray Bans and carefully placed my purse in the back seat so as not to be tempted by my phone. I clicked my belt and headed out. At some point, I looked up proudly at my sparkling windshield to see that the EZ pass velcro was just velcro..no EZ Pass. Chris had taken it out of my car and placed it in his. Which is what he does because we only have one EZ Pass between us because they each cost $195–which is over his upper limit of spending. I swiped the ticket and merged on to the TOLL road aka PA turnpike.
The trip went really fast and next thing I knew, I was at my exit.
Recalling my absent EZ Pass, and taking a moment to mentally curse my husband’s cheapness, I came to a conclusion: I had no choice but to take the CASH and EZ pass lane. Only one problem presented itself: my purse was in the back seat…and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that I had NO meaningful amount of money in it.
Thankfully, I was behind a slow moving tractor trailer. So, I put the car in park, undid my seatbelt and twisted around to fetch my purse; all the while praying to God there would be some coins or scraggling dollars floating in it. As I twisted, my shoe fell off and got wedged under the brake. I had my purse but I could not drive the car until I extracted my shoe and got it back on my foot…and the tractor was moving.
Really, I was not being chased by an axe murderer. There was no rational reason for my panicked sweating as I fumbled for my shoe and my purse and my money (nonexistent as it was.)
Once my shoe was back on, I pulled up to the window. The toll taker was already annoyed at me.
I tried to buy time. “Uh…How much do I owe ya?” I was sweet as pie. I had found two one dollar bills and 45 cents in my change purse.
Every so often I decide that I am carrying a small fortune around in my wallet in coins and I think to myself: “Why don’t I just deposit them in the bank and give the money to a charity?” That fiasco of a thought had, naturally, just happened this past weekend. All $47.84 cents went right to the March of Dimes.
So, there I sat with my $2.45 praying that it would be enough..after all, I had literally gone ONE exit.
Toll man was not amused as I told him that I didn’t have enough and “Could I please use a credit card. Because I have seven of those in my wallet and could probably buy a small car with the amount of credit on them but I don’t have 15 cents.”
“No credit cards. Cash or check ONLY.” He was not nice.
Dude, I don’t have 15 cents, you really think I’m carrying around a check book??
By now, he was so disgusted he just waved me through shaking his head.
The appointment in King of Prussia ended precisely as rush hour was starting. I was NOT getting on 202 in THAT. But alas..I had a Mac card. A few minutes later, I skipped happily out of Wawa with a Diet Coke and $100 in cash. I contemplated going back and waving it at the mean toll taker but thought better of it.
GPS lady promptly got me on the PA Turnpike. I took my ticket and practically laughed out loud with happiness that I had a crap load of money with which to pay the toll.
Sometime after that, my mind wandered and again I was upon the toll booth. I reached for my wallet, removed a crisp $20 bill and triumphantly handed the ticket and cash out my window to the toll taker….
Except, there was no toll taker.
Because I was in the EZ Pass Only line. My mind swam as I read the sign next to the booth: “No money? DON’T PANIC, just pay us later!”
It boils down to this: the EZ Pass Only lane has authority to let me pass but the human being in the toll booth is only equipped with enough authority to make me feel like a penniless pauper who does not deserve to drive on fast, well-maintained traffic free roads.
Is it just me or is there something very wrong with that?