Wednesday, December 15, 2004


After another fun couple of days at the Great Corporate Salt Mine, the fastest way to get to the George (Feh) Bush Intercontinental Airport on the north side of Sweat City is to take the Sam Houston Tollway. Like every other road in Houston, the Tollway packs up pretty well when rush hour arrives, sometime between 2 and 8 p.m., but it’s a reasonably efficient route when you consider all the vile alternatives. And the tariff is a mere $2.50, extracted in $1.25 increments at two separate tollbooths.

[Actually, there are lots more tollbooths on this road, enough to make the Grand Circuit of the City a tad expensive. But since I’m only navigating the northwestern quadrant, no worries.]

At each tollbooth, you have a huge array of lanes to choose from. Regulars take the E-Z Pass lanes and zoom through at 70 MPH. People with adequate supplies of coin use the (plentiful) exact change lanes and lob a handful of quarters in the hopper. And then there’s everyone else, piling into the measly two manned lanes. At peak hours, you will be waiting a long time to get through.

When I’m humping to get to the airport, I like to be ready with exact change in hand. It saves a heap of time, and all it requires is a little advance preparation. But it Ain’t Always That Easy.

Because it’s as predictable as sunrise that there will be at least one schmo-ball in the exact change lane who does not belong there. Like today.

I ease into my lane, smiling, confident. The manned lanes are pack-o, but that’s not my problem. Only a single pickup truck in front of me...

Who stops in the lane, right next to the hopper, and tries to get the attention of the toll-taker in the adjacent lane.

You. Gaping. Asshole.

Eventually, the fuckstick guy realizes that the gate is up and he can just drive off without paying, which he proceeds to do. But, man, am I pissed. And this kind of crap happens all the time!

I think pulling Stupid Shit like that oughta get you an instant $50 fine. Or even better, the toll-taker gets to whack one or two of your taillights with a Louisville Slugger.

The problem, of course, is Texas, a state in which the toll road is still a rara avis. People just have no clue. Even the toll-takers, who are all smiley and friendly, handing you that useless receipt whether you want one or not, telling you to have a nice day. These people need to spend a month in Toll-Boot Camp™ up in New York, where the toll-takers would just as soon take a crap on your windshield as take your money. Or at least, that’s the attitude they project.

In New York, a guy who pulled the “Whoops, I seem to have misplaced my exact change” trick would end up as a grease spot. C’mon, Tex - get on the ball!

[This entry (actually a reasonable facsimile thereof) was guest-posted at pesky’apostrophe thanks to a remarkable lapse of judgement display of hospitality and trust by Mac. Thanks, O Pesky One!]

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