A word to the wise: Read road signs very carefully when traveling far from home. If you fail to do so, you might find yourself tooling down some road to nowhere … but it will cost you!
My wife and I returned home this past weekend from our latest sojourn across the United States of America; we opened our mail and found a notice from the Interstate 495/95 Express Lanes toll authority in northern Virginia.
We had been assessed a “toll violation” because in June we found ourselves driving in the “express lane” with no way on God’s Earth to get off.
The violation won’t cost us an arm and both legs, so we’ll pay it. I called the toll authority this morning to “protest” the notice. I was told after explaining to the robotic-sounding “customer service representative” that the “invoice is still valid.”
I applaud the toll authority for being so efficient in its handling of my call. Believe me, I actually doubted I was conversing with a living, breathing human being even though she gave me her name when she picked up the phone on the other end of the line. That’s the good news.
The bad news, if you don’t mind my calling it that, is that the toll authority representative didn’t quite grasp the nature of the “protest” I was filing. It’s not that my wife and I don’t think we broke any rules; we did when we ended up on that express lane. It’s just that the highway was under construction, rendering the GPS on our truck virtually useless, the signage was imprecise, traffic was heavy and we found ourselves — quite by accident — on a toll road without the proper “express pass” tag attached to our vehicle.
Furthermore, we had to travel several miles southbound from suburban Washington, D.C., toward our RV campsite before we could exit the express lane.
This all happened while we were visiting our niece and her husband, who live in Washington. We drove to a metro train station, and rode the train into the district each day of our visit. We would return to the Franconia-Springfield Station, drive our truck out of the parking garage and then head back to our RV site.
Somehow, on this particular evening, we got a bit befuddled by the road construction. On June 12, zigged when we should have zagged and got caught in that seemingly endless journey along an express lane.
Hey, that kind of thing happens to out-of-towners, am I right?
I told Robot Lady we’d pay the fine. She offered nothing in the way of a word of sympathy for our anxiety or frustration over the signage, heavy traffic and road construction. She merely instructed us to “stay away from the left lane when you see those white signs.”
Gee. Thanks. Will do.