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Not really.  But, the Bay Area FasTrak thinks I do!  Here’s what happened.

Remember that wedding (two links)?  Yeah, it’s related to that.

For wedding + reception part 1, I had to drive up to the Bay Area because the ceremony, or whatever you call it, was in Emeryville.  I am not that familiar with the area as I was born and raised and lived nigh all my life in SOUTHERN California.  Land of shallowness and people who fess up to it.  But that is not the point of this post.

Anyway, I had to drive up to Emeryville the day of the ceremony because I had to work the day before.  This obviously does not leave much time for making mistakes and getting lost and other such things that are bound to happen when you have planned everything out to the last minute and you are unfamiliar with the area.  Ok, so I hadn’t planned everything out to the last minute.  But I had given myself eightish hours for what would be a sixish hour drive, so I thought it would be ok.  And things were.

Everything was going swimmingly.  The kiddos who were going with me were up and ready on time (I was really impressed, I should probably give them prizes or something); the drive was not marred by excessive traffic; no one got lost during pit stops; and even, we didn’t have to make a lot of them, which is why I had allotted eightish hours instead of sevenish for the trip up.  Things were proceeding so well, I thought we would have plenty of time to check into our hotel room and put on our wedding appropriate attire, which is not road trip appropriate attire, in case you were wondering.  But then things went terribly, terribly wrong.

One of the things I dislike about the Bay Area is that freeways totally unrelated to each other can share the same space.  Why do you call one road like four different names?  Like the 50, 15, 99, and 80 can all be in the same physical space.  And the signs for it appropriately list all those numbers.  It was a nuisance, since I would prefer to just look for one number, but it wasn’t a big deal because they were all said to be going the same direction.  But what did Google Maps AND ALSO Bing Maps tell me this time?

Merge onto I-580 W/I-80 E

What?  How is that even possible?  The 580 WEST shares the same space as the 80, which is going EAST?!  And here I was always believing that “east” and “west” were opposites, at least in terms of cardinal points.  But no, the 580W and the 80E are the same road.  This caused a lot of confusion.  The signs were also unclear as to which freeway was going where and in what direction.  This also caused a lot of confusion.  And thus, it caused our route to look something like this:

Instead of like this:

You’ll note the difference.

Why did this happen?  Because:

  1. I am a crazy Asian driver.  I know you all desperately want that to be true so that I can stay within stereotypes.  Sorry, not going to happen.  I did a lot of driving when I was out in Wisconsin (six links) and my colleagues (who are not Asian) all agreed that I was not a crazy Asian driver.  And they were suitably impressed.  So there.
  2. I am a crazy woman driver.  Yeah, see above, only replace “Asian” with “woman” and you get the idea.
  3. I am unfamiliar with the area.
  4. Both my sister’s and my phones had issues finding satellites with all the tall buildings/covered bridges in the way.
  5. Somehow two different freeways going IN TWO COMPLETELY OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS share the same physical road and that confused both of us.
  6. Proper and CLEAR signage was lacking.
  7. San Francisco is full of one way streets, of which I am not a fan.
  8. Murphy’s Law kicked in kind of late.
  9. Etc.  Because I often feel that lists are better when they end with “etc.”

You would think that’s bad enough, right?  But no.  The Bay Bridge is a toll bridge.  Much of it is maintained by FasTrak.  FasTrak also does not believe in making clear signs.  So, when I went through the tollbooth, I ended up going through the tollbooth for…BUSES.  Yes, buses.  Because they had confusing signs pointing in all different directions and we wound up in the lane dedicated to buses.  There is no way out of this lane after you enter.  I was forced to go through this lane.

Now then, I don’t have a transponder nor an account with FasTrak.  So I ended up violating the toll.  I’ve actually kind of done this once before when my (borrowed) transponder THAT WAS CLEARLY ON THE DASH was not detected properly.  A first time violation is 20-25$.  It’s not a huge deal.  Well, I was upset the first time because I HAD A TRANSPONDER but was counted as a toll violator anyway.  But I digress.  This time I knew I had violated the toll.  The problem now was that I didn’t know how much the toll actually was nor if I would be charged for being in the buses only lane when I was clearly not driving a bus.  In case you have forgotten, my car looks like this:

Or this:

WARNING: clicking on the image will take you to a post about SPIDERS where SPIDERS are prominently showcased.

Clearly, it is not a bus.  But apparently Bay Area FasTrak thinks it’s a bus because I finally got the notice and bill for the toll violation today and they did not charge me a separate fee for being in violation of the buses only rule.  My sister had found something on their website, which I now cannot find, about how accidental violations of the bus only lane happens frequently and that they will waive the fee if it’s an accident.  So, maybe they just assumed I was in the lane by accident.  Or maybe my car actually qualifies as a bus.  And maybe they could deign put up some CLEAR SIGNAGE.



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