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Mr. Philip Ing
Regional Director
New York Department of Transportation

Dear Mr. Ing:

Today at 9:15 AM, on the 20th of May, I was passing through New York on business - I am from out of state - had an interaction with one of your "officers" at the Hudson Parkway toll booth at Inwood Hill Park which desperately needs to be brought to your attention.

On occasion, I try to perform a random act of kindness, and have cards to pass out on such occasions - so I told the toll booth collector that I'd like to pay the toll for the car behind me, and asked him if he would give them the card, indicating that they had been "hit", and to pay it forward as opportunity presents itself.

First, this agent on duty told me he wasn't allowed to hand out anything to anybody - without even looking at the card. Fine... you have policies and I can understand why this could legally be a problem. Could he just tell the person behind me that I had paid the toll for them? No, he couldn't do that either. When I told him he was making it awfully hard to try to do a random good deed, he threatened to give me a ticket because I had a magnetic sign on my car advertising my business, which apparently contravenes some sort of parkway statute. I told him that I'd take it off as soon as I got to a rest area, and he demanded that I remove it on the spot.

First of all, what in the world is that all about? This is America, not Russia, and nobody has the right to tell me what I can put on my car - not a tollbooth agent, not the state of New York, and not the President of the United States. You're telling me that vehicles with advertising painted on them can't use the parkway? How in thunder would anybody know about this rule if they are just passing through? If there is such a statute, which I doubt, it's patently absurd.

Secondly, the fact that he wasn't interested in the sign on the other side was proof enough that this individual had only one intention - to throw his weight around. In short, he's a bully.

People like this should not be allowed anywhere near authority. This "man" - and please note that I use that term loosely, as a true man would have shown a much larger measure of humanity and common sense - is a disgrace to the honor of every official who has ever given their lives in the line of duty; he shames the badge that he wears; and gives the city and state of New York a terribly bad reputation. I found this incident offensive in the extreme. If this is how I'm to be treated for trying to brighten someone else's day, you can be sure I will avoid New York like the plague in future, and will advise all I know to do the same.

The world we live in is increasingly being taken over by the mediocre, mindless drone. I and many others whom I know are striving to counter this trend, and build a world where everyone wins, a world that works for everyone. I expect those who are hired to serve and protect to be committed to the same ideals.

A hard copy of this letter has been dispatched to your office by certified mail. Your response to this incident will determine what kind of publicity you get from me in the days to come.

Support Wind Power



May. 21st, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
Quick question where did you get the cards. I would love to get some.
May. 21st, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on this one.

This is your hobby, this is his job. There *are* rules on what he can and cannot do. Some of it is to protect him, some of it is to protect you, some of it is to protect the person in the next car. Same reasons bartenders don't let men buy drinks for 'the blonde girl at the end of the bar' without checking with the girl first. And, yes, some of it is BS designed to foil hungry lawyers trolling for idiot lawsuits. But all of it is real, and if the guy is caught breaking the rules, he's fired. That's not much of a kindness.

I can think of several reasons why a tollkeeper would not be allowed to pass materials or messages from one car to the next.

I can think of a long line of people waiting at a toll booth for someone to finish his argument with the tollkeeper, getting PO'd that the guy can't just drop his cash and go and let them get where they're going.

The RAOK idea is a popular one, and a fun game to play (see Spider Robinson's "rapturists", the opposite of "terrorists". But if the circumstances make it such that you can't play the game, breathe in, breathe out, and move on to the next opportunity. It's like Porky Pine said about life: don't take it so seriously, it ain't perm'nent nohow.
May. 21st, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
Being unwilling to help with the RAOK was not the point. He could have simply said, "that's a nice idea, but our policies don't permit that." Fine, thanks, have a nice day, off I go.

It was what followed that was totally inappropriate. The guy had neither reason, legal or otherwise, nor justification to hassle me about a sign on my car. The only reason was that he felt like being an asshole, and used the power of his badge to allow him to do it. It was a choice, and all choices have prices and benefits. A black mark on his name under the nose of his supervisor is the price he will pay. I do not suffer bullies gladly.


The Old Wolf

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