Monday, January 4, 2010

An exchange on the interstate

A little incident on I-77 just after Christmas got me thinking about the ways we bring sunshine into each other's lives in little ways that cost us nothing, but brighten someone's day and our own, too.

I was toodling along in cold, drizzling rain when I hit a stretch of toll road in West Virginia, heading for Florida. I had been on a similar stretch of I-90 through New York and Pennsylvania where they give you a card when you enter and you pay when you exit.

In West Virginia, they want the money up front, so when I rolled up to the toll-taker's window, she had her hand out for the two bucks. Of course, I was expecting a card and had my hand out the car window to receive it.

So there we were, two empty hands outstretched, each waiting to receive something that wasn't forthcoming. Here's the ensuing dialogue:
Toll-taker: "You're supposed to give me money."

Me: "Oh, I thought you were supposed to give me money."

Toll-taker: "Nope, other way around."

Me: "I guess Christmas is over, then?"
We both broke up, laughing.

Just a silly little thing, but how many chuckles do you think she gets in a typical day? My guess is not many. I heard someone say recently that toll-taker is the loneliest job in the world because everyone else is going somewhere, but you aren't.

A half dozen times in the next few hundred miles of boring interstate, I thought about that little encounter and I laughed out loud. I hope she thought about it and laughed, too.

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