I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I opened “The Tollway Violation Notice.” It was a Saturday night at about 7:30pm. I had just picked up my mail from our mailbox outside the front door. We have lousy mail delivery service in West Ridge, due to the inefficiency of the US Post Office at Devon Ave and Kimball and we failed to get any mail at all about 3 days out of every 7….but that is best left for another rant.
The return address was from the Illinois Tollway Department. I found that extremely strange since I personally haven’t been on any Illinois Tollways in months, maybe even years.
At the top in big white letters on a block background read the words:
NOTICE OF TOLL VIOLATION
The amount due was for $152.70. As I sat down to scrutinize this notice, there was a picture of my license plate at the top, caught by the camera.
On the back was a listing of 7 toll violations with a combined total of $12.70 in tolls and $140 in fines from Friday, July 26. Apparently, my son had driven through 7 toll booths in the I-PASS lane….and WE DO NOT HAVE AN I-PASS.
I began to follow his tracks by looking up the Plaza #s/cities through which he had passed. The last stop appeared to be Aurora, IL, which from our home in Rogers Park is an 80 mile round trip. To say I was livid is a gross understatement. I decided to refrain from texting him about it at work and impatiently waited until he walked in the door.
Me: Guess what came in the mail for you? A bill for $152.70 for going through the I-PASS without a fucking I-PASS!
I could literally see the wheels turning in his brain as he weighed all the possible answers with the best way to proceed. At first he said, I have no idea what you are talking about.
Me: Welp, they have a picture of our license plate on camera. Apparently, you went through the I-PASS lane 7 fucking times.
E: I don’t know what an I-PASS is.
When he decided to abandon that as an unbelievable excuse, he told me he would pay me back, since the car is in my name and I am liable for the charges. I allowed him to go downstairs to his “pit of a bedroom” for the night and decided to leave it alone until his day off on the Monday.
Me: I see you were in Aurora. Do you have any idea how far away that is?
Me: What were doing in Aurora from 7:30pm to 10:15pm on a Saturday night in July?
E: We went to an abandoned mental institution.
Me: Who went and why did you go?
E: 5 of us in 2 cars. It was K’s birthday and we were celebrating.
Me: How did you know about it?
E: Friends at school (Roosevelt High School) told us about it and that it was really cool, even haunted.
Me: Was it worth it to have to repay the $152.70 AND lose car privileges until I stopped being really pissed off at you which may be never? Not to mention how stupidly dangerous that was and you lied by omission. I would have never agreed to it had I known where you were going.
E: Yeah. It was pretty cool and I knew I would never have another chance to go….
I decided to leave it there and looked up “Abandoned Mental Institutions Aurora, IL.” The only thing I could find was “Old Copley Hospital” which had been abandoned but is currently under renovation. I picked up the investigation a few days later.
Me: The only thing I can find is “Old Copley Hospital” which was shut down as a mental institution in 1996. It is currently under renovation. Do you think that was where you were?
E: I don’t know, since there were no signs and the building we went into didn’t look like it was being renovated.
I few days later I got him to admit that he knew exactly what the I-PASS was. They had tried to go through the CASH TOLL LANE but apparently they didn’t have any money and were turned away by the TOLL operator. E told me he looked up online that if you went through the I-PASS Lane with no I-PASS, you could pay the toll later.
Me: And when you didn’t get a request for the tolls, you just thought it would go away?
E: I thought they would send us a bill for the tolls.
Me: Why don’t you ask the other “rocket scientists” who were in the car with you to help you pay for it? How many were there?
E: There were 2 others. J, and K whose birthday we were celebrating. I don’t want to ask K, but I will ask J.
You will be happy to learn that J is going to pay $60 and E is going to pay $92.70. I would venture to guess that will not repeat their mistake ever again.