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Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time – and don’t stick me with the bill

Submitted by on Friday, 1 May 2009 No Comment

toll_evaderI thought the letter was a scam when I picked up the mail today: “Respond immediately to avoid DMV action,” the back of the envelope read.

Yeah, sure. The letter is going to tell me that unless I take advantage of their offer I can’t refuse my hair is going to turn gray and all my kids will be born naked. Since both of those already have happened, I wasn’t particularly concerned.

I quit scoffing, though, when I opened the envelope and saw a photo of a license plate. My license plate. Which is attached to my car, which drove through a toll booth on the San Francisco Bay Bridge at 2:56 p.m. April 17 without paying. Bad, bad car.

I happen to know exactly where I was at 2:56 p.m. April 17. I was sitting in a post exchange on a military base while Big Guy scarfed a Philly cheese steak sub – minus the cheese, peppers and onions so I suppose that makes it just a steak sub – and Boots fell asleep on the floor. So Big Guy ate his sandwich, too.

My car, though, was in California and apparently gearing up for a night on the town.

I’d left the keys with a friend who’d volunteered to shuttle us to the airport. I don’t at all mind that the car subsequently went out to party – it’s done that before, and with my permission.

I don’t even mind so much that the scofflaw vehicle zipped past the toll gate without stopping to pay, even though there was plenty of change in its console. I guess the allure of the city was just too strong for the car to tolerate any delay in getting there.

What I do mind: Finding out about it in a letter. Oh, and facing a $25 fine that makes the original $4 toll a bargain.

For someone so sarcastic and cynical, I react to situations like this with almost child-like naivete. “That’s dishonest!” I want to sniff. “That’s not right!”

And then I switch to stern paternalism and my wagging finger starts to twitch: “I’m very disappointed in you.”

No, it’s not an end-of-the-world betrayal. It is, though, one of those tiny daily discouragements that’d pile up and leave me hiding in a closet in a fetal position if I let it. Sometimes,  accumulation of little deceptions is worse that one whopper, because with the whopper you know when to walk away. The little ones can add up to waterboarding before you know it.

It could, however, be good training for when the guys start driving.

“Now, where was it you said you were at 2:56 p.m. April 17? Because that’s not where this little paper says you were.”

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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