Saturday, October 24, 2009

QuickPass for Dummies

If you live in the Central Valley, you probably know you can get a QuickPass for the newly-refurbished highway from San Jose to Orotina. That way you don't have to dig around for change every time you go through (it's 320 colones one way on the San Jose-Escazu toll, and some of the other tolls, like the one into Ciudad Colon, are even higher -- ouch!). So after a few months of working in San Jose a couple of days a week, digging for correct change, touching other people's dirty money and breathing in exhaust, I decided to buy a QuickPass. Here's what you need to do if you want one, too:
  1. Go to the closest HSBC. You'll fill out a form, pay $30 (just for the pass, that doesn't include any toll money), and they give you the QuickPass. If you have an HSBC account, you can buy the pass for $15, but personally I didn't think it was worth saving $15 to go through the hassle of opening yet another bank account.
  2. You then go to the cashier and pay for the QuickPass plus however much you want to put on it for tolls. Then, whenever you want to top up your QuickPass, you have to go to an HSBC and put money on it. You don't need to remove your QuickPass, however; all you need is your license plate number.
  3. You might want to RTFM. I am a dipshit, so I didn't read the booklet, and put the QuickPass on the back of my rearview mirror, and then wondered why it didn't work properly the first few times. I even kept flipping the damn thing around and was ready to exchange it, when I thought, hmmm, maybe you do stick it on the actual window... Well, duh! Yeah, stick it on the window. Away from window tinting, too.
  4. Now it should be ready to work. When you drive through the QuickPass lane, you hear a beep, then the toll gate goes up. If there are several cars in the lane, it appears you don't actually have to wait for the toll gate to go back down before you can go through. As long as the laser thingy reads your QuickPass, the gate will stay open and it still takes your 320 colones, so you can go through.
  5. If for some reason it doesn't work when you go through, one of the toll booth workers will take your QuickPass, type the number into their computer, and then you can go through. That sort of defeats the whole "Quick" part, though. I suggest if it doesn't work, RTFM, and, barring that, ask the toll booth worker if you've put it on properly.
  6. It beeps two times (or three times? anyway, more than once) when it's time for you to go top up. You have a couple thousand left on it when you hear it beep more than once.
That's it! It seems a little less like highway robbery when you pay a chunk in advance (no pun intended!). Plus, during work traffic, you get to go right through while dozens of other suckers wait in line. Ha! Ha, I say! It's sort of like FastPass at Disneyworld, only those are free.

Edited 28 Oct. 09: Just got this in e-mail today. It would have been nice if they'd have sent it before I had the damn thing in my car for two weeks, but that's probably asking too much. Sigh. Asi es.

To cheese and rain

To cheese:

Oh, my dear cheese! I think our relationship has finally come to a screeching halt. It's true, I've loved you for many, many years, even during these last few years when you didn't love me back. I thought I had given you up for good, but then you'd come back every few months, tempting me to have just a taste of your goodness now and again. And I believed you. I really thought that this time you would change. Maybe this time I'd be able to finally live with you. But after last night, I have to tell you that it's finally over. You've broken my heart and made me want to vomit for the last time, I swear. So don't come running back, offering extra sharp cheddar or herbed goat cheese or an excellent Swiss. I've had it, I mean it. Leave me alone. True, I may dream about you from time to time, but that's all you're getting from me. Goodbye, cheese! And take milk with you while you're at it. Don't let the door hit either of you in the ass.

To rain:

Ok, dammit, enough of this already. You do nothing but bring me down these days. I'd like to say goodbye to you, too. It's all about you, isn't it? Nonstop, day after day. What about me? What do I get out of this? You make my car filthy, you create mud that gets tracked all over the back patio and into the house, and now you're starting to kill my lovingly tended little garden. My veggie plants can't take much more of you, and neither can I. Sure, you were great at first: providing a respite from what seemed like a never-ending dry spell, showering me with your gentle, loving embrace. I looked forward to your visits eagerly. It seemed everything around me responded to your touch, growing, blossoming, awakening. But now? You're here all the freaking time! Sometimes a girl just wants to be left alone, you know? You're overbearing. You show up in the morning, stay through dinner, and you never seem to know when it's time for you to go home. There are things I'd like to do too, you know. Like have a barbecue or a picnic in the park. But how can I, when you're always there? So pack it up, and head out with cheese and milk. Sun and I have been Facebooking each other lately, and I've realized how much I miss him.