Dear friends and readers,
Jim used to have over his desk a copy of a New Yorker cartoon where you saw a man with a long set of fold down instructions — paper went down to the floor. He is studying them intently, he is puzzled. Next to him is a boy holding a ball, waiting. Dad and polite son.
Yesterday I received my E-Z thingamajig. Perhaps you will recall my description of what highways have become in my area since the extended use of E-Z passes for HOV lanes: “I understand WTF Fielding is on about in Tom Jones“.
I read the instructions and puzzled for quite a while about what they meant by clear plastic and switches as I could see neither. It had taken me phoning, and waiting my turn on the phone, after failing at the website in two different ways (a matter of two hours). Luckily I got a polite young man who filled out a form as he spoke. So I didn’t want to waste or goof on this thingamajig, and emailed Caroline to say as she was stopping by today to go with Yvette somewhere (an Awesome conference in DC) that I might need help with this object.
Caroline came and I asked her where was this clear plastic and switches. She first said the pouch the object came in was the clear plastic and I had bought a version of the E-Z pass without switches as just about all the time I would have less than 3 people in my car. (On the phone I had not been told that there were different kinds of E-Z passes there, so I assume the guy sent me what he thought appropriate when I told him my age and some of my circumstances.)
Well I went over to my car and still could not get the thingamajig to stick to the windshield. It took 2 trips back and forth to understand that what was meant by “the plastic” was a thin (to my eyes almost invisible) piece of plastic the velcro had on it that I was to peel off. Caroline explained that by mistake I took off the half of the sticky-block there to enable me to take off the E-Z pass and put it on the seat and not stick to the seat when I was in neighborhoods where I might worry someone would break into my car and steal my E-Z pass. I pointed out that “no where in the instructions was this mentioned.” Caroline replied by assuring me I would probably not be in neighborhoods where I would have to do this. (She ignored or didn’t hear or take seriously my objection). I replied to her in a way that similarly sidelined her utterance: “I never would have thought this train of thought in the first place when looking at this pass and my car.”
I got 800 out of 800 on my GREs in literature and 798 out of 800 on my GREs in math. Jim’s joke was “Ellen was always weak in math.” (He got 800 on both). Jim had had an smaller E-Z pass on the car I totalled last year. It looked different and was only for getting through toll booths with ease. How he mounted it I never knew. Now it takes much effort and my 37 year old daughter to get an E-Z pass onto my car so I too could join in the spectacle of inequality and whiz through the highway on two E-Z pass lanes and the toll boths while countless others were stuck in traffic jams getting nowhere on too few lanes and too few non E-Z pass toll booths. Because the instructions omit unwritten assumptions and codes of behavior I don’t have nor practice.