A negative mirage

The clouds caught up with me just as I hit the toll road. The state of Illinois was requiring me to pay for the privilege of driving slow on their road.

I had two $1 bills in my wallet and some change in the center console. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the toll was only $1.90!

My sigh of relief proved premature as 15 minutes later I encountered another toll both with another $1.90 charge! I managed to scramble up enough loose change to pay the toll.

When I paid the toll, I asked the attendant “How much more will I have to pay to get to downtown?”

“80 cents.”

I thought, “That’s good news! I KNOW that I had AT LEAST that much left in the center console!”

Sure enough, 10-15 minutes later, I hit the last toll booth and paid my 80 cents and took off for downtown Chicago.

They say that when you are dehydrated in the desert, you begin to see mirages, visions of watering pools that aren’t really there. As I continued driving, my mind began to imagine a toll booth that couldn’t really be there! I mean, the attendant had told me that there would be only one more!

I blinked and it didn’t go away. In fact, it moved closer and the cars in front of me slowed down and stopped! Evidently, this was not a bad mirage.

I looked at the sign to see that they wanted another 80 cents! I hurriedly gathered every last penny that I could find in the car and wound up with

forty three cents!

I notified the toll booth attendant of my situation and then she proceeded to make everyone behind me start cussing! She wrote up a missed toll card and took FOREVER to do it.

I pictured the guy behind me cussing up a storm at the stupid guy from California who couldn’t pay an 80 cent toll charge! I even thought of jumping out of the car and asking him if he could give me two quarters…

but then I didn’t want to risk getting arrested for some obscure law that I had never heard of…

and that would have been more than a little embarrassing…

so I just sat in my car and let them cuss…

and then decided that this was probably a good point to get off of the toll road, find a place to sleep and go to the bank in the morning! I mean, who knows how many more of these toll booths there really are?

And I will mail the state of Illinois a check for 80 cents when I get back to Kansas City.

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