BuffaloPundit posted an email he got from a downstate toll collector…
I was reading about the removal of the tolls in the blog, and caught the line about â€œeverybody winsâ€.
Thereâ€™s about 150 of us down here maintaining I-84 that have no idea one way or the other about your toll booths. All we really know for sure is that, because two tolls booths way, way, way upstate were closedâ€¦the jobs weâ€™ve held for the last 15 years are likely gone. Iâ€™m assuming thereâ€™s quite a local residents having served as toll collectors, full and part-time, that are also out of work now.
While I certainly understand your glee, you might consider those of us who have nothing to do with any of this are now facing very uncertain futures.
I, myself, am oneâ€¦and am a week away from the closing of my â€œnewâ€ home. Pardon me if I donâ€™t join your celebration.
Here’s the thing… collecting tolls requires about half the skill set that it takes to work at Burger King, maybe less since you don’t even need to pretend you like the customer. A good friend of mine used to be a toll collector when he was on break from college and said it was hands down the easiest job he ever had. Other than sucking in exhaust fumes, he’d happily hand out tickets on Christmas day collecting 2.5x his base pay (which was WELL above minimum wage) and barely have to lift a finger, much less exercise a brain cell.
Becoming a toll collector isn’t easy though. You need to have connections. The toll collecting system is much like a fiefdom, because the regional heads have all the hiring/firing power. Another friend of mine couldn’t get in even with a personal recommendation from a long-standing state senator.
Back to those exhaust fumes… that got me thinking that if collecting tolls was a private sector job, how long would it have taken El Spitzer to slap the company with all sorts of fines for unsafe working conditions and dangering the health of these dedicated, hardworking New Yorkers? How is it the government can dictate to a restaurant what type of oil they use to fry your fries, but they let their own employees suck down a carbon monoxide cocktail day after day? Guess it depends on who your boss is.
The bottom line is this – if your job is so disgustingly simplistic that it can easily be replaced by technology, try to fire up those long dormant brain cells and figure out that you’re not going have it for long. No union can help you. Even the government can only keep the lifeline plugged in for so long. If you really like counting axles that much, maybe there’s a career in accounting for you. Enjoy looking at cars all day? Find a dealership and sell them. Do you really love swiping a few cents from person after person that passes you by? You could be a tax collector and/or a state legislator and/or a bum!