Friday, September 28, 2012
Highway Robbery, Angels, Opportunity and Lesson Learned
I can't believe I didn't try to talk my way out of it!!!
I have often said and do think this way ...that if you want something ...don't be afraid to ASK. Never deny someone the OPPORTUNITY to say YES! And try again if you get a "no" answer because situations and perspectives change over time. And if you don't ask ...if you don't try at all ...because you are afraid ...or because you assume the answer will be "No", then that is what you get ...nothing. You should at least try once.
But I didn't do it this time.
I assumed since I got a picture in the mail of the front of MY car with My license plate number ..that I was guilty and couldn't contest it.
Then when I saw they were charging an additional FIFTY DOLLARS for a 1.50 toll violation and if I didn't pay it by the 15th day from the date on my notification, I'd be subject to a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR fine ...for a 1.50 ...I thought SCAM!! Although ...the notification was indeed from the state of NJ.
And for the life of me ...I had no idea when I went though the Garden State Parkway EZ Pass booth without paying.... on our way home from the shore back in August. But ...I was a bit baffled as to why I had 2 tolls to pay when going down and only 1 toll to pay when getting off near Newark. So ...I also figured that I just got in the wrong lane and missed paying the toll.
One positive about the GS Pkwy I noticed is that they reduced the number of tolls to go through and it seems that you only have to pay when getting on and off the parkway. I'm not sure about that though since I don't travel it much at all.
I hate the toll booth areas. It feels like you are tempting fate and it is by the grace of God when you and a gazillion other people are trying to stay in or head for certain parkway lanes, but now you have to be mindful of the CORRECT toll booths for exact change, EZ pass or whatever. You have all these cars that were traveling pretty fast ...having to slow down, be courteous (ha ha) as we all crisscross lanes trying to get into the right one without getting all off track from what part of the pkwy we want to travel on, and all this with the goal of also coming out alive on the other side ...in one piece and no car damage. I've been known to pray and certainly ...blessing yourself couldn't hurt either. Like a soldier going into battle (it is the Jersey Garden State parkway after all), armed with change for the exact change booth, focused on my mission in front of me..."Okay ...I'm goin in ...cover me!", to the co captain of the vehicle.
Actually ...I wonder if angels on assignment to cover the parkway aren't playing their own version of PacAngel ...with darting in and out of all the driver's cars helping them to avoid collisions? I wonder if angels get stressed? Or is it fun? Certainly rewarding when you score big with saving lives. I'm just saying. There must be a lot of angels in these areas ...or is it the guardian angels traveling with us that just jump into action? Hmmm ...but I digress.
So ...I was really aggravated about the ridiculously high violation fee. HIGHWAY ROBBERY I tell you! Pun intended. It is though ...truly highway robbery. Multiply those fines times the amount of daily drivers. With that alone ...how the heck did NJ ever fall into financial debt. Although we are at a surplus with the state budget now. Again ...I digress. I'm not going to get into politics and discuss the fact that a republican governor got our state out of debt so that we have a surplus now.
I am going to say that I was so aggravated about this highway robbery of charging FIFTY dollars for a 1.50 violation that I decided NOT to pay it until the 15th day. That was my BIG protest. And I waited until 10pm, at which point I went to pay it on line. It wouldn't work! no matter what I did ..it kept coming up that my violation could not be found!
Did the angels also pay my fine too? ;)
I began stressing because now it was too late to mail it in and if I can't get this payment in ...I WILL get the FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR fine! Then I wondered if it was erased in the system because I had not paid it and it was not coming up and I was doing everything right with data entry. My son tried and couldn't get it to take. I thought about how difficult it is to get through on the phone to state agencies and now I was bummed.
Then after midnight ...I called the number to pay by phone. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. I had just walked away in abject frustration for a while ..tried again and then just decided to call. It seemed to be going well until the voice on the other end said that my records couldn't be found. And now I was concerned because on top of that ...I had given out my credit card information. It just felt all wrong. I vowed I will never wait so long to handle something like this and was annoyed at myself too.
I figured I'd be on hold for hours the next morning, but someone answered soon after I placed the call. Turns out the system did accept my credit card info and the violation was paid. It would've been nice if instead of telling me the system couldn't find my records it just said, "Thank you for your payment."
Then I told her what happened and it certainly wasn't intentional. She was empathetic and told me that I should have disputed it and they would've given me a one time courtesy and dismissed it. WHAT? I asked her if she could credit my account and she said no ..that once you pay the fee, they can't refund it. :(
Then today ...I thought nothing ventured- nothing gained and so I called back. I explained what happened and she sweetly said they couldn't refund it because it would be like pleading guilty in court and then trying to undo it. the decision was already made. Can't you claim insanity or something in court? Anyway ..she also told me I should've disputed it. But ..she said that if it happens again ...I can still use my one time courtesy. mental note made. of course I will try not to do it again ...but that is good to know.
So ...if anyone reading this gets one of these toll violations in NJ- remember ...you can DISPUTE it if it is a first offense. I did tell her that it would be my 2nd offense and she said it didn't matter because I didn't use up my one time courtesy. So ..keep that in mind too.
I just thought the picture was solid proof and that the state was heartless - so I didn't even try to dispute it.
Lesson reinforced: "Never deny someone the OPPORTUNITY to say YES!"