I spent just short of five years as a toll collector on the western end of New York State. Ask me anything, but please don't pay me in pennies.
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I just kept calling the local toll plazas to see if there were openings. I lucked out because there was a civil service test being offered around the time I was inquiring. It contained three sections: vehicle classification, money counting, and totaling up deposit slips. They kept those scores on record and went down the list when it came time to hire. When they ran all the way down the list, they would hire off the street. Sometimes it felt like the only qualification was a warm body. But I suppose other perequisites included 18+, ability to make change without a cash register, customer service experience, etc.
This is a really difficult question for me to answer because honestly, there was very little that I enjoyed about this job and I think that ran over into my work sometimes. I feel that I worked hard, moved traffic as quickly as I could, looked out for my co-workers, and tried to maintain a safe environment for customers and co-workers. But working with people is incredibly exhausting. Especially people that are decidedly NOT happy to see you. I want to tell you I greeted every customer with a smile, that I waved at every child in the backseat, that I took the catcalls from every nook of the car with a good-natured wink. It was hard to hold it together some days but I generally just tried to keep my mouth shut, treat people in a straightforward manner, and make the whole toll-paying experience as much of a non-event as possible.
This is a judgement call on the part of the collector. I'm going to assume based on the question that I don't actually observe any booze/weed and if that's the case all I'm going on is my impression of the driver. If something seems off, then I would escalate the situation- better safe than sorry. But, it's also entirely possible that they are just the DD. It's hard to paint these situations with one broad stroke. But if I ever did make the call, I always made sure to observe as much as I could. The more information you can provide, the better. Plate number, vehicle/operator decription, etc...
While it is incredibly rare, and would probably take a perfect storm of circumstances, I have heard of this. I can only assume it would entail upwards of 300 16 hour days.
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I will say this about the people I worked with and are still out there to this day- they exercise incredible restraint. If you ever wonder why collectors aren't very talkative, I suspect this may be the reason. It's one of those jobs that the less you say sometimes, the better. I didn't personally witness anything catastrophic but there was a guy I worked with who flipped off a customer. I remember hearing a story about a guy who freaked out, locked up all his money at a small station and left. Not exactly sure how that one panned out but I think he kept his job for some time after that incident. People have definitely walked out on the job, though. I've heard of people going on their first break and just taking off.
I would definitely place myself in the minority in that regard. I certainly did work with some lazy, angry, unintelligent idiots. It's not the type of job that requires a college degree or special skills to speak of so you can imagine the demographics in play. But honestly, most collectors fall pretty much in the middle of those two extremes. There's a lot of interesting stories out there, though. A lot of the older full-timers I worked with came of age in the mid-late seventies who fell into the whole thing by accident. A number of them had college degrees, but the economy was such a wreck at the time that they took the job out of necessity. Once they got a few years in with a decent salary and benefits, it was hard to get out. And there they stood, thirty years later.
I went back to school and got my PhD in Toll Collection. Now I teach it! Actually, I am happily employed as a broadcast operator at a financial news network. I held the job from age 18-23, which encompassed my college years plus one.
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