When was the last time you talked to a toll taker?
I hadn’t in years.
My car’s equipped with an EZ-Pass that’s accepted almost everywhere I drive. Where it’s not, there’s usually some form of cashless tolling in place.
Even the cars I’ve rented come with a device that monitors tolls and charges me for them when I return the vehicle.
It’s great, right?
No more waiting in line at tollbooths for the awkward exchange of currency. On long drives, you don’t need to get a ticket that you have to try not to lose during your drive. Mine always used to fall between the seats and required some yoga moves to retrieve.
This week, though, I had no E-Z Pass. My trusty Subaru blew up on the Taconic Parkway. I was devastated. I loved my Subaru and I believe the feeling was mutual. I had it towed to the dealership, walked in and put a deposit on another Outback. I insisted on a different color, just to shake things up. I am sometimes so wild, it terrifies me.
Until the car’s ready, I’m driving my son’s old Audi (it was formerly my sister’s) and it doesn’t have an E-Z Pass. I forgot that on Day One and had to do an awkward backing up out of the express lane to join the other losers in the cash-only queue. I fumbled around in my work bag, looking for my wallet. I retrieved some crumpled bills and coins while receipts flittered to the car floor.
When I finally turned to the toll taker, I was aggravated. She greeted me with a giant smile and a big hello. “How’s your day going?” she asked. “I’ve had better,” was my curt reply. “Well, you’re on your way home, so that’s good, right? Stay safe in the storm tomorrow!” I thanked her, she raised the toll gate and I proceeded on my way.
And I swear I heard a choir of angels sing.
A nice lady said a few nice things. And it made a stranger feel better.
I’ve forgotten what a gift that is, in my daily rush to get more things done, faster.
So, the next time you’re approaching a toll booth, check out that far right hand lane and say “Hi!” to the toll collector. Tell them Cathy sent you.
And, if you need a dose of cute right now, then it’s hard to beat this…