For Whom The Road Tolls

Our knitting/e-mail group got together for a few days at Lulu’s house in Birmingham this summer. They’d needle me if I posted a photo of the group, so here’s Lulu’s dog, Sami, just to prove I was there.


Why yes, that IS a pink elephant on the table and since wine was consumed,  I’m relieved that you can see it, too.  (And yes, you purists, that’s crochet, not knitting.)

On the way back, I stopped to see our daughter and her family in Atlanta  and attend one of Middle Grandson’s swim meets.  His older brother had strep throat, so I volunteered to drive Middle Grandson to the meet, a 20-mile or so trek on Atlanta’s highways and toll roads in rush hour traffic.

No problem.  The calm voice of Miz MapQuest anticipated my every question and took us right to the pool.

I set up camp in the last spot of shade to be had– just outside the men’s room door.

“How will I know when you’re swimming?” I asked Middle Grandson when he walked by later.

He stuck out his arm, which now sported a hodgepodge of Sharpie-tattooed tic-tac-toe lines and numbers.

“Take a picture of my arm,” he said.  Genius.

I misread the arm photo for his first race.  By the time I realized my error and made it  poolside, all I saw was an empty lane.  Grandson was probably out of the pool and off eating a popsicle somewhere.


In full-blown crazy grandmother mode, I bulldozed through the crowd of timers, coaches, and players for the next race. Squatting at pool edge, I aimed my camera to get a closeup of Grandson when he bobbed up at the touch pad.  I wanted to  send it to Dearly Beloved.

My camera honed in on the backstroker coming toward me, ready for the big finish.

What th’. . . ?

The kid that popped up, nose to camera lens with me,  was a complete stranger.  Wrong lane again!  Grandson was already towelling off.  I think that his time in the race was better than mine in trying to stand back up from that  squat.

My son-in-law, who’d come directly from work, called out, “Did you SEE that?  His best time yet!”

Mumble, mumble.

When persistent thunder delayed the meet for an hour or so, I decided to head back to the house.  Son-in-law stuck around and, as it turned out, saw a few more heats before the match was called for the night.

Once in my car, I kicked off my shoes and told Miz MapQuest to reverse her directions and lead me back.  At the toll entrance, I threw my quarters into the basket and started to drive forward.  The gate didn’t lift.  What now?  Did I even HAVE any more quarters?   Wasn’t an attendant supposed to be wandering around?  Had the people lined up behind me never heard of patience???

And where the heck were my shoes?

I scrounged around and found more quarters–and, because I’d already driven past the basket in anticipation of being able to proceed, I now had to walk back to put the money into the basket.

I didn’t take time to look for my shoes, so I opened the door and put my bare feet down,  cringing at the thought of what might await.

Want to take a guess what littered the pavement?


Pennies.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of pennies.  I’m don’t think my feet even  touched the nasty asphalt.

Who throws pennies out at a toll booth?  And why?

I usually pick up loose change I see in parking lots and on sidewalks,  so it might have been difficult to walk away from all that loot, had not the honking serenade behind me insisted.

The toll gods accepted my coins this time and the gate raised.  I jumped back in the car and screeched out of there.

I called Dearly Beloved.  Son-in-law had been sending him excellent videos of the races, he told me. . . “But I’m sure watching the videos is nothing like actually being there.”   

Yup.  Nothing like it at all.  I didn’t say so, though.  He didn’t offer me a penny for my thoughts.

25 thoughts on “For Whom The Road Tolls

  1. this is too funny….so you were on 400 because that’s the only toll road in all of Georgia….traffic is brutal…I can’t believe you got out of your car but can believe people throw pennies….next time make grandson wear some sort of swim cap with a chicken on top so you won’t lose him…..your friends dog….well, what can I say that dog was a big sweetie wasn’t he….we had a Pyrenees and they are wonderful animals….we miss our Boo dearly….and for Pete’s Sake next time your coming down to Atlanta contact me and we can do lunch!!

    1. Carol Too

      Those of us who traverse 400 on an intermittent basis, and therefore don’t have a pass to go screaming through on the left side, know this situation too well. I used to keep extra quarters already out in case I missed the basket or it didn’t count right OR in case I had to bail someone else out to get the line moving.
      But I am with Merrily, who the heck throws pennies when it won’t accept pennies??

      1. I’m thinking they threw the pennies in panic, trying to find their quarters. Too bad there’s not a copper magnet. I could have “rescued them.”

    2. SUE– this refuses to post in the right spot!

      On 400, huh? Thanks–you know more than I did! And even more than that, I know from your blog that you know RESTAURANTS. We’ll do it sometime!
      PS. Her lovely white dog LOVES playing in mud. Did your Boo do that? Lulu wrote a couple of days ago that the latest “mud” was actually goose poop.

  2. I showed Sami her photo and she stood, turned full circle, and laid back down in her pool. Truly an excited puppy. 🙂 You always make me LOL, Mz Merrily – please hurry back and visit again. Remember there are no tolls to troll in ‘bama!:):)

  3. Arkansas Patti

    That was funny about the swim meet. I once went to a super star competition, took 20 rolls of film (yes that long ago) and couldn’t tell you one person who won an event.
    Traveling Atlanta traffic deserves an award.

  4. NCMountainwoman

    I just love your posts! They make me laugh and feel better about the dumb things I do and predictaments I find myself in. I suspect that together we could be Lucy and Ethel. As for swim meets…both my kids were swimmers. Oh, those long meets went on forever. You wait and watch tons of other swimmers waiting for your little darling to hop in the water. And in high school, my daughter swam the 500. Oh, so long and always near the end of the meet.

  5. Susan Hobbs

    Love your posts . I forwarded this one to my sister so she can read them I keep telling her how funny you are. by the way a new Julia Spencer Fleming book is due out in August can’t wait, thanks for telling me about those books that has been ages ago.

  6. Well you certainly gave the day your best effort! Maybe you should sneak back to the toll booth late at night–with a flash light and a speedy quick grandson or two….those pennies lay in wait for you, I just know it.
    Sounds like your middle grandson is quite the swimmer!

  7. We used the electronic “Easy Pass” toll payment reader in NY and the surrounding states so I’ve gotten out of the habit of making sure I have change in my car! I should throw some quarters in my cup holder, just in case. There are just a few optional toll roads near where I live and we never use them. I’m sure your grandson was happy to have you at his race–he probably thinks you saw every race 😉

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