Monday, September 05, 2005

EZ is as EZ does

E-ZPass is one of humankind’s greatest inventions. Of the four inventions of the past twenty years, it’s not quite as cool as the internet, but leagues ahead of the Thighmaster and the Eggwave. For those of you who don’t know what E-ZPass is, please contact your closest university; there are anthropologists there who will want to study you.

While E-ZPass is great, it is still a relatively new system, and as such has a few kinks that still need to be worked out. Two years ago, my then-girlfriend Kara and I took her car through a toll booth with the E-ZPass transponder not properly mounted to the windshield, partly (and by partly I mean entirely) because I was tossing it up and down to myself in the passenger seat as we drove through the toll booth.

The dreaded CALL EZPASS sign lit up, which is the interstate equivalent of the Blue Screen of Death on your computer. When we got home, I obediently called E-ZPass, and after navigating deep into the bowels of their phone system, I actually found a human being there. That human being was Vinnie Barbarino. If you don’t know who Vinnie Barbarino is, he’s John Travolta’s character from the 70’s version of Saved by the Bell. Back then, Screech was called Horshack. Anyway, here’s how our conversation went:

Me: Hi. The CALL EZPASS sign lit up at the New Paltz exit on the New York Thruway when we went through the toll booth earlier today.
Vinnie: What?
Me: The sign at the toll booth. It said CALL EZPASS. So I’m calling you.
Vinnie: Where?
Me: The sign at the toll booth. It said to call.
Vinnie: When?
Me: Earlier today.
Vinnie: Who?
Me: Dude, the sign. The CALL EZPASS sign. It said to call.
Vinnie: Up your nose wit’ a rubber hose.

After that conversation, I sent a check to E-ZPass for the toll, hoping to clear my good name. They responded by sending piles of violation notices to Kara’s parents, at the address to which her car was registered. I poured special love and care into my next letter to E-ZPass, enclosed another check, and the violation notices actually stopped.

I am so proud of myself for writing a letter that actually accomplished something, I’ll paste it here exactly as I sent it. Maybe you can get some use out of it, too, if you ever need E-ZPass to stop sending violation notices to you. Feel free to use this letter and modify it for your particular situation. It has a proven track record.

Dear E-ZPass:

I already sent in a payment for the enclosed violation, but the delinquency notices have not stopped coming. I took my transponder through the New Paltz booth in my girlfriend's car. The
booth didn't read the transponder, and the "CALL EZPASS" sign lit up.

I am trying really hard to comply with E-ZPass in clearing up this violation. PLEASE help me end this! PLEASE! I know you can do it. I have faith in you. My girlfriend's folks are [angry] at me because they keep getting these notices. I am probably going to marry this girl, and her parents will likely be my in-laws someday. This E-ZPass mess is not helping at all. I think they are starting to think that their daughter should have stayed with that motorcycle punk guy. I'm trying to be the nice guy, but does a nice guy screw up his girlfriend's parents’ credit rating and let E-ZPass harass them? No!

You can help! You can make the world a better place. Opportunities like this don't come along every day -- you are empowered to right wrongs and cure injustices! All you have to do is close this violation notice.

Thanks for your attention. You are a good person.


Michael Todd


  1. I hear crickets chirping...

    Only kidding ~ but Mike please understand that EZPass does not exist West of the Mississippi. At least I'm 90% sure of that fact. EZPass was started in New Jersey (about the only decent thing to come out of Jersey really) and it has spread to NY, Delaware, the Virginias and PA. Maybe even Connecticut... but I don't think much further. In other regions they refer to this similar technology as "Free Roads" and "Free Bridges". Those states laugh because we are forced to pay to cross a bridge.

  2. Chunks,

    Thanks for the history of modern tollbooths. I know EZPass is only in the northeast, Dude. Luckily, so is southeastern Pennsylvania, where this column runs.

  3. We have similar here in Dublin, though we call it EasiPass - at least we make an attempt at spelling it LOL

    It would not have been a letter I would have sent, effective tough yours may have been. I would have found out where EZPass headquarters was, even if it was clean across the country, and arrived at the front desk with a rubber hose looking for a Mr Barbarino.

  4. EZ Pass is in the South too, or at least here in Georgia.

    Now that you mentioned credit ratings, it makes me wonder about the 50+ parking tickets I left unpaid when I moved out-of-state. The car was co-registered to my father. Uh-oh.

  5. Man I feel stupid now...

    I forget that the postings here are carbon copies of the newspaper column and not original editorials for this blog - my bad.

    And now they have EZPass in Georgia... too bad you don't have a column running down there, cause the reference would be understood.

  6. vegas is toll free....thank god....

  7. We don't have tolls here in Connecticut. Yay! Hell, we'd never get anywhere. We'd all be broke.

    When my dad, who doesn't have ezpass, went through the ezpass lane, he called them and they said "fuggetaboutit" and it made him all paranoid that it just can't be that easy. Apparently they photographed Kara's plate, but not his. Hers must be prettier.

  8. It is really weird driving in an area where they don't have EZ Pass. Jered, you must've been pissed that they didn't have it to go on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. I sure didn't care considering I don't have it and it's so nice to not have lanes taken up by you lazy EZ Pass people. And...San Dimas High School Football RULES!

  9. Dude, no tolls? What do all your bridge trolls do then?

  10. The tolls just slow down traffic. It amuses them.

  11. This is hysterical! Glad I dropped by. I believe that we don't add enough humor to our lives. This is how we should handle every inconvenience.

  12. so funny! We are just signing up for EZPass now... talk about living in the stone ages huh?

    Great stories!

  13. If you don't mind, can you post the picture of EZPass....