The same day my 90-year-old mother put herself on an assisted living community’s waiting list, I received a snail mail notice from Enterprise car rental. Seems that my “rental vehicle incurred a citation or toll during [my] rental period.” Huh?

First reaction: This is a scam.

Second reaction: Well, if someone’s ripping me off, it’s a pretty modest ripoff: Enterprise informed me it was fining me, using my credit card number—which they had, of course—$18.00!

Third reaction: OK. Maybe I did mess up. One look at the date and I knew exactly what happened: Cruising up Interstate 95 on a beautiful, late-summer day,  a dear friend in the passenger seat, the two of us chatting away, we arrived at the tolls in New Hampshire. So I breezed through the EZ Pass lane. Because that’s what I always do. In my own car. Ooops.

Two take-aways:

1. “You never call and the NSA can back me up on that!” Yup. This is my Big Brother moment. Just imagining the surveillance and the computerized systems’ interconnectedness activated by my one, stupid mistake, then multiplying this one incident exponentially? Yikes. Messing up has never before been so fraught! They got us; we’re caught.

2. This incident may be my first, public, Getting Older & Less With It moment. (I have plenty of these moments in private, 90% of them before drinking my morning coffee.) As egg-on-my-face moments go, as the customer service woman at Enterprise pointed out,”You got lucky.” $18 is incredibly cheap. Making the same stupid mistake in another state would have really cost me. Given that I am living in Surveillance Land, though, and I’m not getting any younger, heightened attention, constant vigilance is called for, I guess. Gotta bring my A game to these kind of situations. I can’t cruise, go on auto-pilot.

Sounds exhausting. Naptime?




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  1. I’ve been known to drive through an EZ Pass Lane without thinking about whether or not I have an EZ Pass in the car. I don’t think you’re going senile just yet!

    (either that or I’m going senile extra early)

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