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A funny thing happened on the way to the toll booth…

August 26, 2014

toolboothThe Kids and I went on an unexpected road trip to Florida last weekend. I don’t mean to be vague. We went to my grandmother’s funeral. She lived a good 89 years, so it wasn’t an especially sad affair, but of course she will be missed.
Back to that road trip. We spent a good bit of time on the Florida Turnpike. Have you been there? It’s a toll road. It’d been a long time since I’d traveled that stretch of very well manicured pavement. There are toll booths every few minutes. Seriously. I kept hearing AGAIN? from the backseat every time we stopped to pay another dollar or more.
It’s annoying, but the road is nice. We weren’t in much of a hurry, so besides spending The Boy’s college fund on tolls, we didn’t mind stopping to pay.
The traffic flows surprisingly well through the booths, especially if you have the fast pass thingy. Not being residents of Florida, we did not. Thank goodness I happened to have cash.
As an aside, what the heck happens if you don’t have cash? Most of the time, I’ll have a few quarters at the most, and definitely not enough to get us through 5 toll booths. They didn’t accept cards. I asked.
We were approaching our third or fourth booth, and the traffic was unusually congested. There were what appeared to be 4 lanes of traffic, including a few tallish trucks, which prevented me from seeing the booths themselves. I got in the far left lane and waited my turn.
Crap. As we got closer, I realized I was a victim of following the leader. I was a sheep. My lane was simply trying to merge with the one next to it, because the booth ahead was empty. Crap.
I hate a traffic cheater, so I’d never intentionally be one. I’ve prevented such cheaters from merging after they cheat. I knew it was risky, but I started to merge anyway. The girl a couple of cars up and one lane over wasn’t having it. She did what a lot of people will do. She pulled up to the car in front of her, her bumper nearly touching his, and kept the van in front of me from getting over. The van was bigger, so he won.
She leaned out of her window, big smile on her face, and shook her pointer finger at me like an old schoolmarm. Huh. She was mocking me. To be fair, I get it. I’d think I was cheating, too. Her gestures became a little less, well, kid-friendly as I was contemplating my next move. Clearly, she wasn’t letting me in. I waved and smiled.
I desperately glanced at the car next to me. The gentleman driving with what I would assume to be his spouse or significant other (sister? Friend? I try to be inclusive) saw me, nodded, and waved me in. I was admittedly surprised. I waved back enthusiastically as I was merging, and I waved again after I was settled in my new lane. We love the Guy Who Let Us In (GWLUI).
It wasn’t a hassle for him to let me in. He might have to wait 30 seconds longer because I was in front of him. If crazy schoolmarm girl wanted to go first, so be it. We’re both gonna get from point A to B. I’m not fighting her on it. We can’t both fit, so she can go first.
It taught me something. Most cheaters are cheaters, but every once in awhile they might have a good reason for cutting in line. Who am I to try to figure that out? Assume positive intentions. In the case of the GWLUI, it’ll get your $1.25 toll paid by the grateful Mama you let into your lane.

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