Wednesday, March 10, 2010

E-Z Passhole

Because I don't have E-Z Pass, I have to stop at the toll booth to pay like everyone else. Some drivers don't talk to toll booth operators...I do. My friend Rifa once told me a statistic: "The highest suicide rate is among toll booth operators. If you say nine words or more to them each time you pay, it makes their day significantly better." Though I don't say nine words exactly, I always say something along the lines of "thank you, have a nice day," and depending on the operator I may go into more of a conversation.

Editor's Note: You may think to yourself, "Why doesn't this dude have E-Z Pass yet? He's been commuting for multiple years now, and could have easily saved $1,000 by simply GETTING E-Z PASS. There has to be something wrong with him." If you think this I wouldn't blame you in the least; there is something wrong with me. I acknowledge that there is a vacancy in my brain that has prohibited me from doing this, but you should also be aware that the $1,000 I would have saved would have been smoked/drunk away or wasted on a woman.

There's one man whose name I can't remember whom I converse with regularly - probably about once a week - for the sake of the blog I'll call him Sal. We usually talk about sports - clearly he just wants people to listen to him because he spends his workdays alone - he doesn't give a shit if other people are waiting in line because he enjoys our brief chats. "You remind me of my son," he's said to me.

Last week I was driving into Westchester with my sister. Being in New York you get used to people cutting you off, but sometimes as a driver you freak lose your cool and get pissed off at that other driver's blatant disregard for safety. Now I'm an aggressive driver, but I never cut people off at toll booths. This guy cut me off right as the toll booth approached; he slid over to my lane to save him from waiting for literally two more cars. Even worse? The guy had E-Z Pass. All he had to do was go in the E-Z Pass lane, but instead went in the cash lane and almost caused an accident.

Editor's Note: I suppose since I don't know this jerk-off I shouldn't pass judgment, but something tells me if anyone is in need of a skull fuck, it's that guy. This blog has been way too normal so I thought a skull-fuck reference was necessary.

For the duration of time we were waiting at the toll booth, my hand was pressed on the horn. I lost it. I was screaming profanity out the window at him. I know people say, "It's not worth it...the guy could have a gun." Yes, you're right. But I didn't care. As I approached the toll booth Sal was the one working. I complained to Sal about it, apologized for my behavior, and he had my back. Sal has a thick New York accent. "Listen, I see shit like that every day...don't worry about it. You know some guys don't even stop like you...they just drive right through the toll booth and hand off the money." That made me feel better.

Today as I was driving through the toll booth I ran into Sal again. I've been sick all week so naturally my mood hasn't been as uppity as it normally is. "Hey there," Sal said. "Good thing no one cut you off this morning." I replied, "Yeah man, wasn't that unbelievable?" Then he reiterated from last week, "I see it all the time. Guys just don't care. You know there's this one guy, right? He comes at ten after five every morning and just drives right through the booth without even stopping."

Then Sal made my day: "You know when shit like that happens I tell myself to bite my tongue, because for every guy like that I'd like to think there's a decent guy like you."

Yesterday I wrote about our progressive lack of faith in humanity, yet here's a jovial toll booth operator - clearly in his 50's at least - who maintains such a positive outlook. And to think that I contribute to that outlook makes me want to be nicer to everyone else...too bad they probably don't deserve it.

Editor's Note: There have been times when I've written about the notion of "popular opinion." I've used the example that if you're a woman walking down the street, and nine guys say you look amazing and one says you look fat, too often will the woman dwell on that one guy. Well what if nine guys say you look fat and one says you look amazing? What do you do then? Never thought about it until this morning. I don't believe I apply to this because Sal's not the only person to tell me I'm a nice guy, but it had me thinking about it nonetheless.

Looks like if I had E-Z Pass I wouldn't have such a positive impact on Sal and possibly other toll booth operators I'm so cordial to. Is that worth the $1,000 I would have saved? Probably not, but it's certainly a consolation.


Rifa said...

woohoo shout out to me! i don't even remember that little toll booth fact, so in a way, it's like i just learned something new. from myself!

p.s. remember when i grabbed that chex mix out of your hand on saturday? that was awesome.

Danaconda said...

Wow that's really funny. I vaguely remember going into a bag of something and someone taking the chip from me right as I was about to eat it. "That was a nice move," I thought at the time. Guess it was you. Smooth move Rifa.