For Whom the Hell Tolls

What's it take to get a tollbooth attendant to crack? We wish we knew.

"May I please have a receipt?" I hollered.

The little gray-haired man sitting inside the booth regarded me with a mixture of pity and boredom. He handed me the receipt.

"Thank you!" I said. What else was there to say?

Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Molins later explained, via e-mail, that toll collectors receive training in cultivated indifference, and that they make more money than I do (more than $15 an hour at night). According to Molins, the weirdest thing that ever happened to Venetian toll collectors occurred during a police chase that ended with a stolen truck "upside down in front of the tollbooth." The truck burst into flames, Molins said, and burned down a pair of booths. He failed to mention how the toll attendants reacted. I imagine they just sat there, like bored geometry students, while firefighters blasted them with powerful hoses.

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