It Tolls For Thee

I’ve always wondered how tollbooth attendants handle their job. They’re stuck in a booth in which they can barely move. The booth is in the middle of the highway, with all of the exhaust fumes from vehicles passing through the toll plaza. The volume of fumes that they inhale on a daily basis is concerning. The booth isn’t air-conditioned. When it’s 40 degrees with the sun hammering down on the aluminum booth, it might be another 5 degrees hotter inside. That’s suffocating.

Worst of all would be the limited human interaction. That’s why I believe taking tolls from a booth is much worse than operating an elevator. Not only is there no time to really interact with the people passing through the toll plaza, you have to handle cash. At least an elevator operator just punches buttons, and has time to have brief conversations especially with the building regulars. People that work in the building might have a chance to know your name, at the very least. I’ve handed tolls to hundreds of attendants, and I’ve never had the chance to learn a name of a single one of them. I can remember at least three elevator operators. Not just their names – where they’re from, if they’re married, how many kids they have.

I don’t live in the US so it’s not Labor Day weekend here, but to all tollbooth attendants across the world I hope that you all escape to a better job soon.

 

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6 thoughts on “It Tolls For Thee

    1. Claustrophobia would make that job (as well as elevator operator too) a non-starter. Come to think of it, working in those conditions might even induce claustrophobia. Thanks for visiting!

  1. There are two ways of looking at the job of tollbooth attendant. One is the way you looked at it. A pretty miserable job. The other way to look at it is that it is a job, which I suppose is better than no job at all. But, thanks to technology, it’s a job that is probably going to disappear in the not too distance future. More and more toll roads in the US have digital readers that capture the toll amounts from transponders in cars as they pass through the toll plaza. Systems in the east, like EZ Pass, and in San Francisco, like FasTrak, are taking us down a path that will make tollbooth attendants go the way of blacksmiths. And on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, even transponders in cars are not needed. As each car passes through the toll plaza, a camera takes a picture of the license plates on the car and then electronically invoices the person in whose name the car is registered.

    And elevator operators? I can’t remember the last time I got in an elevator that had an elevator operator.

    1. I agree that technology should eventually make most jobs that humans would consider nightmares obsolete. Sadly, it will take decades before that level of automation is fully implemented on this side of the world. I was in an elevator with an operator yesterday. The young lady’s name was Anne. She’s a temp and had been at the job for two months. There are many older buildings around here that have elevator operators. The service elevators in shopping malls almost always have operators as well. Thanks for visiting!

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