Last week I got a letter in the mail from EZ Pass. It seems my car was photo tagged as running an EZ Pass toll. Sure enough, they had a picture of my license plate. It was taken at a Delaware River bridge crossing. It was taken the same day and time I regularly cross the bridge on my way to baby sit for the Pa. Crankettes.
It was me alright.
Except, I don’t use EZ Pass. I never go through the EZ Pass lane, because I don’t use EZ Pass. This bridge costs one dollar to cross. I always go through the same lane, stop at the toll booth, hand the attendant a crisp one dollar bill, say “Have a nice day,” and merrily go my way. Somehow the camera still snapped my plate and now they want their one more dollar plus thirty bucks in administrative charges.
Who just runs through the toll, waves at the attendant and doesn’t pay? Certainly not a 69 year old fart in a slow ugly green Jeep Wrangler. How do you even fight this? They have a picture of my plate. Thirty-one dollars…talk about highway robbery.
It’s not the first time I’ve been a victim of highway robbery. I’ve been nailed three times in a speed trap. Highway speed traps are simply a local government shakedown.
The first two times I was nailed in a speed trap was in the first year I had my license. Both traps were set on the bottom of a hill where the posted speed limit suddenly dropped from 40 MPH to 25 MPH. They were known speed traps and locals knew to slow down. I was local, but new to this shakedown thing and did not know the cops would be waiting. On one of them, a driver coming in the other direction even tried to warn me by flashing his lights at me.
“What the fuck is that idiot doing flashing his lights at me?”
Hey, they didn’t teach that etiquette in Drivers Ed.
My third speed trap came twenty years ago, and it was the most ridiculous. Driving south on the Rhode Island Turnpike there was a small sign “Construction next 20 miles speed limit 30 MPH.” The construction was on the north bound side.
“Thirty MPH! That can’t be right.”
I took my foot of the gas and slowed from 65 to 55 when no more than one quarter mile from the warning sign five state troopers were pulling cars over as fast as they could. They pointed and waved and if you didn’t pull over they had a chase car.
I pulled over and got a speeding ticket; it cost me $75, and pushed my insurance rate up another $200 a year, every year.
I asked the trooper, “How long do I have to maintain a speed of 30 MPH.”
“The next twenty miles.”
“Twenty miles, but there is no construction on this side, everyone is doing the usual 65 MPH.”
As I said this, cars were roaring by safely as the five troopers were too busy writing their tickets to pull them over.
“Next twenty miles, no more than 30 MPH unless you want to risk a second ticket.”
I pulled out and grudgingly drove only 30 MPH for maybe two miles. During this time I was almost rear-ended five times by cars traveling at normal turnpike speed. I also received eight angry horn blasts, and several middle finger salutes.
“Fuck it, this is ridiculous, we’re going to be killed at this speed”
I pumped it up to a safer 65 MPH.
I get it, the government needs revenue, I just wish they would call it what it is…robbery.
“Boop boop boop“ pull over.”
“Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Well sir the great state of Rhode Island has authorized me to randomly stop anyone I want and collect $75. I am required to do this at least twenty times a day. Do you want to pay with cash, check, or Visa?”
“But that is just highway robbery!”
“Yes sir, yes it is. Would you rather I make it a speeding ticket and have your insurance company rob you as well?”
No, I guess not. Thank you. Did you say you take Visa?”