I would make a really bad Boy Scout. Even if I were a boy.

2 Sep

Image Source: http://neenjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Boy-Scout-Be-Prepared-Emblem.jpgAlan and I celebrated Labor Day weekend by attending the “Sing-Along Sound of Music” at WolfTrap with our friends Seth and Johnny. (Alan would probably like me to clarify that this was NOT his idea, and he only purchased the tickets as a demonstration of his love for me. Seth and Johnny would probably like to note that they were mainly there for the outdoor picnic.)

More on the event itself in a separate blog entry. I’d simply like to focus on the adventure that was GETTING there.

WolfTrap is an outdoor venue in Virginia, about 15 miles outside DC. Because Alan and I planned to crash at his place after the show, we decided it would make sense for Seth, Johnny and me to drive separately and meet him there. As it turns out, this was a bad idea.

I mean, from an efficiency standpoint, it was brilliant. It reduced the total number of miles driven by everyone. But it is generally a bad idea to take three urbanites and send them into Virginia without a native guide.

Oh, we did a fine job navigating to the venue. The problem was that we hadn’t realized the route required a toll road. And really, that shouldn’t have been a huge deal. But as we sat in the line of cars approaching the toll booth, we realized the error of our ways. “Crap!” I said. “I totally forgot there was a toll booth involved. Do you guys have quarters?”

Image Source: http://www2.fitforpublicconsumption.com/TollBoothPayment.jpg“No,” Seth informed me. “I don’t have ANY cash.”

“No cash?” I asked. “Not even bills?”

“None,” he confirmed, looking to Johnny, who was digging through the glove compartment, looking a bit panicked. “We have no cash.”

I was emptying my backpack on to the seat next to me, realizing with a sinking sensation that I’d left my entire wallet at home. “I have fifty cents.”

We all looked at each other. SERIOUSLY? Three adults and we only have fifty cents on us. I knew Alan – who makes a point of always having cash on him – would face-palm just thinking about it.

“What are we going to do?” Seth asked as we creeped closer toward the toll both.

“Go in the ‘Full Service’ lane,” I instructed. “Surely we’re not the first people to come through without any cash. They have to have a credit card reader in there.”

It turns out they do not. We pulled up to the booth and Seth tried to explain our plight. “Do you accept credit cards? We only have fifty cents on us.”

The guy was neither amused nor understanding. “No. No credit cards. Cash only.”

We all looked around, as if making eye contact would miraculously mint coins. “So how can we work this out?” Seth asked. “If we don’t have any cash?”

The guy leaned forward and looked around the car. “You don’t have $1.75? Among the three of you?”

Seth confirmed that we did not, but that we had a credit card we’d be happy to run. The guy looked at us as if we were a car full of liars.

Seth asked again, “So what should we do?”

The guy said, “Get a ticket mailed to your house.”

Seth asked, “How much is the ticket?”

The guy said, “$1.75,” and we began to murmur our approval of that solution. Then after a pause, he added, “Plus $25.”

Seth was aghast. “Wait. So even though I’m telling you we WANT to pay you, because we don’t have cash and you don’t have a credit card reader I’m going to have to pay an additional $25?”

The guy nodded. “You need to pull forward,” he added. “You’re holding up the line.”

“Thanks,” Seth said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You’ve been unbelievably helpful.”

I’m just sad we weren’t dressed in costume for the show. Somehow I think there would’ve been a different outcome if he had been talking to a car full of nuns. Next year…

Image Source: http://img.wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/nun-bumper-cars.jpg

9 Responses to “I would make a really bad Boy Scout. Even if I were a boy.”

  1. spaarolifantje September 3, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Ouch… By the way, if I had been in your car, I would have been able to help you out with $0.25 more… I’m a no-cash-carrier like you guys…

    • pithypants September 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      Right? I mean, hasn’t most of the world gone cashless? Guess we’ll be seriously screwed when The Interwebs melts down and all our electronic funds disappear.

  2. lunch at 11:30 September 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    northern virginia is an armpit of a place. i mean seriously. wolftrap is the only good thing about it. even here in baltimore they’ll give you a ticket with a number to call–you get two days to pay and it’s JUST the toll itself–and then wave you through. and they’re pretty nice about it. (can you believe i’ve never seen the sound of music?!)

    • pithypants September 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Oh Lunch, I was about to offer an exploding fist-bump for toll booths that let you phone in your toll, but then you had to undercut your credibility by admitting you’ve never seen The Sound of Music. I can’t bring myself to trust people who don’t understand why you should ALWAYS take a harmonica to a family reunion.

      • lunch at 11:30 September 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

        i tried teaching myself the harmonica when i was four. does that count? (no? no.) i haven’t seen “the princess bride” either and i only saw “grease” for the first time, like, two years ago. i know. *shakes head*

  3. thesinglecell September 5, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    I read this whole thing with a sinking feeling you’d wind up in the exact situation you’re in. El sucko, as they say in Spanish. It IS a terrible feeling. By the way? I would have been the person behind you, angry that you didn’t have any cash. 🙂 (I’ve never been to that particular toll booth, but I’ve driven for decades on roads that require cash money. I refuse to get an EZ-Pass… perhaps precisely because everyone orders me to do so… so the only time I ever have cash on me is right before a road trip. Robbers, take note.)

    Oh, PS: don’t drive in North Jersey without cash or an EZ-Pass. The fine up there is $50. Bastards. I’M GOING TO A WEDDING. DO YOU SEE MY LICENSE PLATE? I DON’T LIVE HERE. I WAS TRAPPED IN THIS LANE. WOE IS ME.

    • pithypants September 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      El Sucko is right. I almost tried to panhandle from the angry person behind us… how would that have worked out for me?

      • thesinglecell September 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        Excellent question. If I had been the person behind you and I had the cash, I would have helped you out, since we all know being in that situation would be pretty mortifying. But that’s me. Someone else might roll their window up on your arm and drag you.


  1. Award: Best Parenting Ever | pithypants - September 3, 2013

    […] [Side note: who can even FIND their checkbook? Please tell me the Girl Scouts accept credit cards. If not, you can't convince me they aren't just training those girls to become Toll Booth operators.] […]

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