Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't Leave Home Without It

I'm not talking about your American Express card. I'm talking about cash.

Most of us carry at least a few dollars with us whenever we are more than a block or two from home. In fact, I usually do so myself. But for the last few days I have managed to get by with only a dollar in my pocket. You see, my sister from New York was visiting, and she brought a lot of cash with her. And so, I worried not as we trekked to the woods, the ocean, and the city, the cash safely tucked away in my sister's wallet.

That is, until we approached the toll booth on the Golden Gate bridge. In case you were wondering, they don't take American Express at the toll booth, just cash (unless you have a prepaid electronic device). It was time to get out that giant wad of cash my sister bragged about having in her purse.

When she turned around to pull out her stash, her purse was no where to be found in the backseat. She had left it hanging over the back of the chair in the restaurant in Sausilito.

What do you do when you have no money to pay the toll? Backing up over the bridge we had just driven across did not seem like a very good idea. So, I trudged up the stairs to the toll office, which fortunately was on our side of the bridge, and explained my plight to the officer on duty.

Much to my surprise, he lent me the $6 for the bridge toll. Maybe it was his good deed for the day, maybe I reminded him of his favorite aunt, maybe I have an honest face -- I really have no idea why he lent a total stranger $6 to pay the toll. He gave me his business card and asked me to mail him the $6 back.

As he pulled the cash out of his pocket, he asked me, "You are going to pay me back, aren't you?". "Of course, of course!" I answered. "You will have to pay the toll twice, you realize?" "Yes, no problem!" I told him I would be back in 30 minutes with his money. True to my word, we retrieved the purse, drove back over the bridge and rolled up to the toll office about half an hour later. I made my sister go up to the office and pay the officer back his money. I hope she thanked him profusely.

Today, as I returned to work from a medical appointment, I again found myself on one of the bay area's bridges. I still had that same solitary dollar in my wallet, but no sister with a big wad of cash with me this time. And no toll office or nice officer on my side of the bridge. The toll attendant let me drive through the toll plaza so I could get back to work. Whatever authority controls the bridge will mail me the bill for the $6 toll....and for the $25 fee for not having the cash on me when I crossed it.

Next time, I will not leave home without it.

No comments:

Post a Comment