I just got back from a whirlwind weekend visit with my friends Julia, of the we-desperately-miss I Do Things blog, and Lin, of Duck and Wheel with String. So fun!!
I traveled with my sister Ann, of the We Can Travel Everywhere with GPS and a Rental Car philosophy.
It rained buckets all day Saturday, so we decided we’d at least get some walking in by going to an outlet mall with Julia and her hilarious and delightful boyfriend, Steve. We took separate cars due to a switcheroo we planned later in the evening.
Ann and I hopped out on the highway and all went well until we hit a toll booth along the way. A toll booth without an attendant and that required exact change. Change we did not have.
I just want to say here that we hate Illinois for all their toll booths. I thought Jersey was bad. It felt like we were paying tolls every other mile. Illinois, we find you very annoying and we’re never coming back.
OK, so we’re sitting at the coin basket, which is waiting for us to hurl six quarters into it. We had just four.
We’re digging in every possible nook and cranny of our purses for extra change, but none is materializing.
Meanwhile, I look over at a woman in a nearby lane who is also doing the holy shit, why isn’t there an attendant here I don’t have any money except bills is that a quarter on the floor oh my God this is stressful routine.
I decide I would open the car door and wave around a dollar bill in the hopes that nearby drivers would have enough quarters to make change for me so we can get on our way. Quarters? Quarters? Anyone got quarters?
I look behind us and there is a man in a pickup truck losing his mind that we are not moving. He is actively screaming at us and waving his arms all around. I’m relieved he’s not waving a gun.
I quickly get back to the scrounging for quarters, cursing Illinois procedure, while Road Rage guy is having his meltdown. I again wave a dollar bill out the window to indicate “I don’t have quarters, I only have this bill, can’t you see????”
I hear the guy scream “Pay it online! Pay it online!” and we finally decide it’s our only option. We are devastated. We are Catholic. We are rule followers. We are about to blow through a toll without paying the required dollar fifty. Dear God, please forgive us and have mercy on our souls.
We reluctantly gun it past the stop light, knowing we are going to hell for our scofflaw behavior and now instantly worry that cops will pull us over, we’ll get an extra fine from the car rental company and that Ann’s credit card will get charged not only for the $1.50 toll we skipped, but for every toll along the parkway because how else will they know where we got on and off? FYI, Catholics’ brains cannot function in any other way.
We eventually get to the outlet mall and meet up with our friends and the first thing we blurt out, because it’s the most important thing in our honest, rule-following lives right now, is “We didn’t pay a $1.50 toll!!!!” Julia and Steve care nothing in the least.
“Don’t pay it. People skip tolls all the time. They can’t track all of the people who do it. You’re crazy for worrying about it,” Steve says.
But worry we do. We are a hand-wringing, anxiety-ridden sort of people, convinced Ann’s going to jail because of our criminality.
So the next day, we set out to make right on the toll.
We use my iPad to get to the Illinois toll website because I can use VPN on it and we want to make sure the transaction is secure. We back track through the GPS directions to find the toll we missed and provide all the rental car information, along with the time that we committed our crime.
Because we are still deathly afraid that Hertz Car Rental is going to find out what we did, we document payment of the toll in no less than four different ways: sending ourselves an email link of payment, taking a picture of the iPad payment with Ann’s other iPad, taking a picture of the iPad payment with Ann’s iPhone, and ensuring she has an email alert of her credit card payment of the toll.
We have rock-solid proof of payment now and if Hertz gets notified by the State of Illinois that we failed to pay one dollar and fifty cents at a toll, we have ample proof that we did and we can sleep well knowing our parents raised us right and we are not actually going to hell now.
The guy behind us at the toll booth? He is going to hell. And his hell will consist of him having the correct change and perpetually being stuck behind out-of-towners who don’t. Serves him right.