Monday, July 17, 2006

Justifying My Suggestion

On Sunday, My wife and I went out to dinner with my cousin and her husband, and my parents. You see, my cousin, my wife, and my mom have been playing cards every other Wednesday for about 2 years – they play small stakes Pinochle, and they have saved the money they raised playing cards in order to take the guys out to dinner (so obviously, I encourage the continued card play).

We chose to go to a German restaurant near Willow Grove named Otto’s (obvious choice, since my parents are very German). Unfortunately, my dad volunteered to drive – he is starting to get up there in age (74), and even though he is still a more than capable driver, he is starting to slip a little. This is especially true when having to go through a toll area with EZ pass lanes. For those of you unfamiliar with EZ Pass, it is a device that is put into your car that automatically pays toll fares via an account that you create. It is a wonderful creating that totally eliminates the need to seek loose change seconds before reaching a toll, in addition to making the whole toll experience faster and easier.

However, my dad does not have an EZ pass. And, this is where the fun ensued. On our way to Otto’s, we took the blue route (Route 476). For some unknown reason, my dad took his Windstar into the left lane of the highway, even though he was barely able to get above 50 mph (one of my biggest pet peeves as a driver is when a slow car enters the passing lane for no apparent reason). My dad was once a relatively fast driver, so I’m guessing he still considers himself one, even though he should be strictly relegated to the far right lane for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

He is in this lane for a good 15-20 minutes, probably contributing considerably to the road rage epidemic in this country. But, unfortunately, that is not the end of my torment. My dad fails to see the 37 signs posted on the highway leading up to the toll area, instructing drivers without EZ pass to use the right lanes. He ends up zipping through EZ pass, and onto the Turnpike – now we have no ticket to give the toll collector at our exit. My dad, of course, does not blame himself, but instead blames PENDOT, because, apparently, 37 signs was not good enough.

We get to the exit, and now he has to explain to the toll collector his error, which now causes a traffic jam at the toll, as the lady takes a picture of his license plate, and has him fill out a sheet. Oh, one more funny thing, my dad is trying to hand her a dollar bill for the toll, and she is repeatedly asking him for his license. He is just giving her this blank glazed over smile while holding the dollar bill out. Now, I’m not sure, if he was hoping she would think he is a foreigner, and just take his dollar to move traffic along, or if he is really starting to lose touch – I’m hoping it is the former and not the latter.

Thankfully, we finally get to Otto’s, and I’m hoping to enjoy some fine German cuisine (yes, it does exist outside of Wisconsin). We get seated, and I notice a buffet – I’ve never seen a German buffet (no, a pot of Bratwurst and sauerkraut does not count as a buffet – that is an Octoberfest). My first instinct was to run – I couldn’t imagine eating dried out Wienerschnitzel (sounds like some kind of gay porn quote). However, much to my surprise, the German buffet was excellent.

Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit in my stomach very well, mainly because my dad had to drive us back home. This brings me to my final point. For years, I have suggested that separate roads be built for the elderly, complete with either cushions on the sides of the roads or those bumpers from bumper bowling. Additionally, these roads should probably have a rest stop every 1-2 miles, and complimentary Geritol included at each rest stop. Sadly, my dad probably would qualify to take these roads (if they were around).


El Padrino said...

gettin old sucks-- i think anyone over the age of 65 should be tested every two years

Los said...

I totally agree with you, El Padrino. I've read far too many stories about old people driving through the wall of a house or a McDonalds.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

Who cares about old people driving?

I want to hear more about the buffet.

Jeff said...

Sounds as though your father is ready to move to Florida.

Gotta ask: you forgot to volunteer to drive before he could ... so who is the senile one?

By the way, I absolutely refuse to get EZ Pass, because it will eventually be used to automatically nail speeders. Don't believe me? Years before EZ Pass existed, the Indiana Turnpike used the time stamp on toll tickets to issue speeding fines.

Dirty Birdie said...

I'm so glad we don't have tolls in Arizona.

My friend Lucia's aunt is such a bad driver she started taking off down the road one night while Lucia still had a foot on.the.ground.

Christina_the_wench said...

You're suppose to pay at thost toll things?!?!

Los said...

Jeff - I have learned that it doesn't matter if I volunteer, he will still drive.

Becka - Lucky you, tolls suck. We get to pay money to drive on crappy roads in PA (arguably the worst roads in the entire country)

Christina - as long as you have no license plates and an unmarked car, you should be fine!

Reverse said...

Hello there Frawline. Here is some American currency to let me through their German inferior EZee...pass lane.

I think if your dad just kept speaking German to the tolbooth lady he might have got away with it.

Superstar said...

We had a toll bridge in Spokane for years everyone would avoid the bridge causing stress on the other 2 to get across the "mighty Spokane River". Saidly the city opted to pay it off and remove the toll. (keep in mid it was a dime and in the 80's was raised to a quarter). Thank goodness I don't have to think about tolls...I mean unless you include the tax dollars being sent to the min men and the border...I am sure he who has the money wins! ;o)

I dream of winning the lotto so I can have a driver...Then I wouldn't have to drive anywhere anymore. Not because I don't have a privledge..but because I wouldn't HAVE to! ;o)

Los said...

Reverse - I think my dad was really trying to just speak German in the hopes the lady would just wave him through.

Superstar - Wow, a quarter for the toll? That's pricey! I would still drive, if I was rich - I love to drive!