Other than collecting tolls, that is.
Of all the jobs in all the world, that of a toll booth operator is one that leaves me quite perplexed. All day long, he sits all alone in a tiny booth, with just fumes and smoke for company. And perhaps a lot of cash in loose change. So, what does a toll booth operator really look forward to at work? Going home, perhaps.
Even a traffic cop at times is stuck alone in the midst of traffic. But at least he has the freedom to move around. And maybe have occasional chats with colleagues or locals when the traffic is less. But for the toll booth operator, no traffic is almost akin to being in a jail. Rather, being in solitary confinement. One with hardly any scope for movement. For twelve hours every day. Making sure that the correct amounts are paid.
So what does a toll booth operator really think all day?
"Look at that snazzy BMW. Must be having loads of money."
"Oooh...that Beetle looks cute."
"Whoa, fifth chick in the last five minutes. Might be my lucky day."
"C'mon, loser. Grow up. Get an E-Z Pass."
"No E-Z Pass. At least should have the decency to get exact change."
Or more likely,
"Darned...looks like another thousand vehicles coming in."
"Please please go to the next booth. I am in no mood to put my hands out in the cold (or heat)."
"Yes, yes... all of you have to come to my booth. Why don't I ever get lane 13?"
"Damn, another E-Z Pass guy. At this rate, I will have no job by Christmas."
"Should I call the cops on this guy?"
"Did this guy give me the $5 bill? Or, was it the guy before him?"
Whatever it is, the job of a toll booth operator does seem to be a nightmare job. And with pranksters like these, why would anyone even want it? And would there be anyone with years of experience on the job?
Well, well, if it is such a nighmare job, it does come with a decent paycheck too. Booth operators end up making over a 100k a year. Now, that's way more than what my white-collar job pays me. Doesn't seem to be that bad a job any longer, does it? :)
Of course, only if you are ready to be in a booth with barely any human contact, half-in and half-out, uncomfortably reaching out every minute or so.
There is always a catch.