Toll Collector

Toll Collector


Brooklyn, NY

Male, 26

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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108 Questions


Last Answer on September 21, 2018

Best Rated

You collected tolls in the western end of NY where including me Canadians loves to travel for cross-boarder shopping. How do you handle rude and confused tourist who handly understand English?

Asked by FridayLover about 6 years ago

First and foremost, I too, am a huge fan of Fridays, FridayLover. We don't really have a procedure for handling rude and confused tourists. We're out there to collect tolls, and that's about it. Confusion is one thing. When I had wide-eyed drivers pull up with literally no idea what was happening, I just had to exercise as much patience with them as I could and get them onto the same page. Even getting people to open their windows and reach out to take the toll ticket from me when they were entering was sometimes a challenge. I had some comical stare downs with drivers who didn't speak English. It was interesting because I was doing something completely mundane, while they were doing something completely new. Even getting them to pull away after paying their toll was a challenge sometimes. That being said, being a confused tourist with a smile on your face will get you a whole lot farther than the alternative. Being confused shouldn't give you a license to be rude though. If you don't like that we aren't a currency exchange, or that our collectors don't know if certain malls have certain stores, or that we can't give you a satisfactory answer as to why there is a toll road here at all, that's fine. But there's really no need to berate a toll collector. And if you do, Canadian or not, don't be surprised when you don't get a very nice response. And I totally get that you don't want to take American change back to Canada, but if you guys could cool it on the 315 pennies for a 3.15 toll, my brethren would appreciate it.

Did you ever witness an out-of-control driver or high-speed chase where someone crashed right through the toll gate, like in the movies?

Asked by miles and miles over 6 years ago

We actually don't employ gates in our system so that wasn't a possibility but people did speed through our lanes with some regularity. Sometimes we got them to stop, sometimes we didn't. Nothing too exciting though, sorry to disappoint! I did once witness a (most likely) drunk driver stop, open her car door, and promptly drop from the seat to the pavement. Drunk drivers are scary.

You said you quit being a toll collector. Why? (share what you feel is comfortable)

Asked by Chris about 6 years ago

To answer this fully, I'll back up a little here. I got the job when I was 18 years old, living at home, and starting college full-time. I became a toll collector (and a grocery store clerk) because my parents made it clear that I needed to get a job. (In my opinion, they had been more than generous in allowing me to be jobless up until that point.) For some reason, I became enamored with the idea of being a toll collector, and through a connection and a conveniently timed civil service test, I got the job. I never thought that this was going to be a career for me and during college other jobs came and went but the one constant for me was toll collecting. It provided a steady source of income, allowed me to move out of my parents house, and *ahem* enjoy college. From day one, I was just riding this out until I got the big boy job. Well, as it turns out, 2009 wasn't a great time to graduate college. Nearly five years after I started, the big boy job seemed as far away as it did on that first day but eventually I did get the call to the big leagues. So, to simply answer your question, I got another job. I am very thankful that I did though, because I'm just not sure how long I would have lasted. The unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of jobs out there that just aren't that fulfilling, and toll collecting is absolutely one of those jobs. The year after I graduated was one of the hardest years of my life. I remember breaking down to my father on the phone one night outside of a bar near the end of my time as a toll collector because I just didn't feel like my life had any purpose at the time. My hat is off to everyone that is still out there, because it's not an easy life.

what are the hiring process for the toll collector and how long does it take before getting an offer?

Asked by jen about 6 years ago

It's going to vary from agency to agency.  In my case,  I took the civil service test in January and was called in for an interview in July.  If they are hiring a class of collectors from a test, they run down the list based on test scores, so in theory the better you score, the sooner you might be able to expect an interview.  Once I was hired, I spent one day getting my fingerprints taken, background checked and going through classroom training at headquarters and two days training in the field with another collector.  After that, I was a bona-fide part-time toll collector.  

That being said, some of my co-workers were hired without taking the test because it wasn't being offered at the time.  They were allowed to start working immediately and were required to take the test when it was next offered.  

When you were a toll collector, and people outside of work would ask what you did for a living, would you lie? Or would you say it proudly?

Asked by Jax over 6 years ago

I never lied to anyone about what I did for a living. I actually enjoyed talking about it because the eyes of whoever I was talking to almost always lit up out of curiosity when I mentioned that I collected tolls. I can’t tell you how many times people countered with ‘Oh my god, I’ve always wanted to ask...’ Toll collecting is kind of a depressing profession though. There’s just no way around it. I don’t know if anyone out there would readily say that they were proud of what they or the organization did day to day. But I would say there is a certain satisfaction in going out there, being dependable, and doing a good job in any profession. Personally, I tried to inject as much levity into the whole situation as I could and document all the ridiculous things that happened out there so I could have some good party stories. The two things that helped me the most was the high likelihood of not being being a lifer and the fact that I had anywhere between 1-3 jobs during most of this time period. I never felt that toll collecting defined me as a person. Rather, it was just a ridiculous thing that I did to live like any other person. I am proud to have met and worked with the people that I did, and contrary to what you might believe, I worked alongside a lot of intelligent, strong, thoughtful individuals. And a fair share of idiots.

Why would a toll collector write my license plate down when I pay with a fifty dollar bill?

Asked by Mimi over 6 years ago

Collectors where I worked are not necessarily required to flag counterfeit money, but they are required to fill out a form at the end of their shift tying all large bills to the vehicles that paid with them. When they do receive a 50 or 100 dollar bill they are required to take down the vehicle's plate number along with the serial number of the bill. That way, if the bill is rejected by the bank that is counting the deposit, the agency has some sort of information on where the bill came from. As with so many other jobs, sometimes the paper trail is just as important as the end result.

how do u identify the axels on a vehicle? and do u have a calculator on the register?

Asked by Dreaha about 6 years ago

It's pretty easy to do. Just take a look at the side of any vehicle and count the number of wheels rolling on the ground. Here's a chart from the U.S. DOT that shows some examples of truck combinations: We did not have cash registers in our booths. The ticket machines that we used could do a number of functions, but all cash transactions were done manually. If you needed to, you could bring a calculator of your own out to the lane with you, but during my job interview I was asked if i could make change without the use of a cash register. When I replied that I could, the interviewer tested me on the spot.