To the editor:
Here’s how government can change the neutral citizen into a really peeved citizen. It started with the 18-year-old kid.
During the Sakonnet River Bridge toll controversy, I’ve been a passive-lazy user; I already have E-ZPass and don’t travel the Sakonnet very much, anyway. Today I tried adding another transponder, for a new family car, to my four-transponder existing account. (The 18-year-old started work and college and bought a car. Sigh.)
I was willing to pay for the additional transponder but was told that isn’t allowed. “Why not?” I asked the polite phone customer rep from RITBA (R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority). Because, she said — policy; only four transponders on a non-business account. “Really?” I said. Yes, she said. Policy. OK, I said, so I’ll set up a business account. OK, she said, but you’ll have to buy all new transponders. I didn’t further ask why (policy).
So I need to set up a second account, which isn’t hard, just idiotic. Now I (and RITBA) have to maintain two separate accounts (username, password, credit card, yada yada yada). Why not have the 18-year-old maintain the account on his own? Yeah, sure. Right.
Anyway, the nice phone rep suggested I could open another account online and wait two weeks for the new transponder to be mailed, or take time out to go to Jamestown to do the application, or go to AAA, even as a non-member. So I called AAA, went through a tortuous voice mail system only to find the nice phone rep there not sure if I could do this because I already had four transponders and … ah heck, I just gave up.
Now I’m no longer neutral, I’m peeved and I now actively don’t like RITBA and will join in any legal opposition to that agency.
Civic lesson for the 18-year-old: Why don’t most citizens respect their government agencies? Because those agencies make dumb rules and make citizens feel helpless to modify those rules. (He said, “Um, yeah. I think we covered that in high school.”)