My goodness, what a busy, busy day! I was on the go from 8am this morning till just a little while ago. Whew!
After dropping Grace off at school, I picked Kurt up from work and we headed off to breakfast. We have this diner’s club card where if you buy one meal, you get a second one free. My friend’s son was selling it to raise money for his preschool, and we knew we’d get our money’s worth. Not only have we saved a ton of money at just a few of the places we have visited, but it’s also encouraged us to try someplace new! Kurt had seen this one place when we first moved here, but we hadn’t around to trying it till this morning. It was really good! And the bonus was that they didn’t punch our card this morning, so we can go back as often as we like and use the “buy-one-get-one” special. Not only that, but Kurt got a free side of fruit just for asking. Yum!
From there, we were off to Mary Ellen’s four-month well-baby visit. I adore our pediatrician. Initially I had asked our insurance company to give us the same doctor that Kurt, Grace, and I all see — but she was already booked up. They offered us another doctor, and I heaved a sigh and agreed. Now I’m so glad I did! Mary Ellen’s pediatrician is perfect for us. He loves to joke around and kid, he’s got a very dry wit, and he’s heavy in the sarcasm at just the right moments. We don’t stop laughing from the moment we walk in the office till the time her visit is over. I almost want to see if we can switch Grace over to be seen by him. There’s nothing wrong with the doctor that Grace sees, but compared to Mary Ellen’s doctor, she just has no personality. Hehe.
Mary Ellen now weighs 15 pounds, 1 ounce, and is nearly 26″ long. Kurt and I were surprised she’s so light, relatively speaking. He was guessing she was closer to 18 pounds! I thought she’d be at least 16 or 17 pounds, what with how much she had gained previously. She put on five pounds in her first ten weeks of life. In these last eight weeks, she’s only gained three pounds! She looks almost the same as she did at her four-month appointment, I guess because she grew three inches to go along with those three pounds. But I know she’s growing because I have to carry her!
Mary Ellen had to get four shots today, poor kid. One was an oral shot, which ME definitely prefers. The next three shots really made her mad! When the corpsman stuck her with the first one, she glared at him as if to say, “How dare you cause me such pain?!” Next thing out of her mouth was a pissed-off shriek of pain. Poor kid.
We ran by the commissary to pick up provisions for dinner, where I managed to break the self-checkout machine. Oops. Next up was picking up Grace, where I was greeted by a wail at high volume: “But I told Daddy to pick me up!” Well, gee thanks, kid. Nice to see you too! She only stopped fussing when I explained that Dad was in the car. Sheesh.
Then we made the fateful decision to go get an EZ Pass transponder.
See, the Claiborne Pell Bridge, named for the Senator who just recently passed away and who was responsible for the creation of Pell grants for education, connects Aquidneck Island with Conanicut Island, which is then connected to the mainland by the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge. Going over those two bridges is the quickest and easiest way of getting from Newport to Warwick, or to points south such as Connecticut and New York City (and Westerly!). The thing is, the Pell Bridge is a toll bridge. For many years, frequent users of the bridge could purchase a roll of 10 tokens for $10, and your first trip over the bridge after buying a roll was free, which brought the price of a token down to 91¢.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (aka, RIDOT) decided it was time to join the 21st century, and so the Pell Bridge was converted into a toll system that would utilize the EZ Pass system. If you’ve ever driven up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, you’ve seen the EZ Pass lanes where users can fly by the rest of us stuck in traffic at the tollbow, yelling “SUCKAS!” out the window — or at least in their own minds. Basically what happens is that the toll lanes read the transponder that is mounted in your car and deducts the proper amount of money from your account. It really speeds things up! I’ve wanted one for a while, and even planned on getting one for our trip southward for Thanksgiving, especially since I knew that the Pell Bridge would be converted soon, but alas, Rhode Island wasn’t yet selling them.
The thing is, if you have an out-of-state transponder once the system went live on the Pell Bridge, your account would be deducted the full amount — $2 each way, instead of the promised commuter rate of 86¢ each way. So everyone who had an out-of-state transponder, which is lots of Rhode Islanders since people go to New York quite frequently, had to go to the RIDOT office to buy a Rhode Island transponder. And those of us without a transponder at all had to go to the RIDOT office to prove we are indeed Rhode Island state residents, entitled to the resident discount on the Pell Bridge.
All that adds up to quite a headache.
When we arrived at the satellite offices that had been set up in Newport to deal with the overflow from the Jamestown offices, there were about twenty people in line ahead of us. It took us nearly two hours to receive our transponder! Fortunately the people in line were very sweet and wonderful to talk to, and of course, Grace and Mary Ellen charmed everyone in the place. There were quite a few irate people who made their displeasure known to everyone present, and their horrible attitude really irritated me. The whole thing is completely ridiculous, not being able to use an out-of-state transponder and having to prove your residency especially when you’re not a Rhode Island resident (officially, anyhow — I’m still a Washington resident while Kurt is an Arizona resident, yet we have Rhode Island plates on our vehicles) — it’s all so confusing. But you don’t need to throw a conniption fit at the workers, or grumble loudly enough for everyone to hear you about how stupid it is that the line is so long. At least the line in Newport is entirely inside, unlike at the Jamestown offices, where one has to wait in the cold and the snow outside. One guy had spent well over an hour and a half waiting at the Newport offices this afternoon, only to be informed when he got near the head of the line that he couldn’t be served at the satellite office there in Newport because he had a business account. He was very irate, and his deep baritone carried all over the office. I didn’t feel all that sorry for him since there was a sign that said, “NO BUSINESS ACCOUNTS! You must go to the Jamestown offices” right there on the table where you picked up your application.
But at least we have a transponder now, and we even have extra Velcro so that we can switch it from vehicle to vehicle instead of having to buy two. (Did I mention that your first transponder is $10, and your second is $15? And that the prices go up for your third and fourth transponders?) So the next time we go to New York City, or down to DC to see my family, we’ll be one of those people flying by the folks stuck at the toll booths, paying cash, and screaming, “SUCKAS!!!”
It’ll be such a wonderful feeling.