Pay Up or Else

Little did I know when I woke up Monday morning that I would be bullied and screwed by the Federal Government!  I watch the news, so really I should not have been surprised, but I was , and have cursed them every day this week for doing so.  I worked Monday, typing for hours, leaving me with neck and shoulder pain.  Knowing that my daily walk would help alleviate the tension, my husband, Mark, and I headed to the park for a walk around the lake.  It is there where I got screwed and there was nothing pleasurable about it…nothing, nada, zilch! 

As we approached the park entrance, I noticed a newly installed sign that read “ATTENTION:  STOP AND PAY HERE”, along with an additional sign reading “Daily Usage Fees – Walk-Ins $1.00, Vehicles $4.00, Annual Pass $30.00, Senior Sunrise Pass – Half Price.” What the hell…what do they mean stop and pay here?  I was just there on Friday and there was no sign…as a matter of fact, there has been no such sign or fee for the past three years. The signs sent me into a less than ladylike tirade against the Federal Government (specifically the Army Corps of Engineers) and left me feeling like a school child who had just been confronted by the school bully trying to steal their lunch money.  Mark reached for his wallet in search of the fee, but only had a ten-dollar bill, and I had not even brought my wallet, so I was screwed as far as my lake walk went.  We thought about ignoring the sign and entering the park anyway, but since the park bully has been making frequent rounds lately, we decided not to risk it.    Besides, even if we had the fee on us, principle alone would not allow me to fork it over on this particular day.  As we sat staring at the sign, we realized since we walk four to five days a week, and if we wished to continue walking at this location, we would have to purchase the annual pass.  I quizzed Mark as to whether he thought he might qualify for the Senior Sunrise Pass; he neither knew nor thought the question was funny (honestly, I wasn’t trying to be funny).  Resigned to the fact that there would be no walk around the lake this day, we headed home.

Once home, I expended a great deal of energy cursing the Army Corps of Engineers specifically and then the entire United States government in general for sticking it once again to the citizens of the land.  Dramatic, yes, but I have been known to have dramatic outbursts on occasion, this being one of them.  My daughter, hearing my ranting, suggested that maybe the fees would keep the riffraff out of the park (like the no-pants wearing inner tube toting guy), but her positive spin was wasted on me (besides, I happen to like some of the riffraff…they make great writing material).  Since my walking plan was foiled by the Feds, and I now had a pounding headache, I stomped off to my room like a temper-tantrum throwing child for nap time.  I woke up only to find I was still sulking about the new park fees (apparently adult nap time doesn’t work the same as child nap time).  I finally decided to behave like an adult and try to figure out why I was having such a strong reaction to the new park fees.  The only conclusion I reached…after years of loathing and avoiding it, I had finally found a form of exercise that did not make me want me to stab myself in the eyes with hot pokers, not to mention a serene and FREE place to do it, and now it was gone (well, the free part at least).  “Bastards”, I thought to myself, “Dirty rotten bastards.”

Now I know I could look for a new place to walk, but I am a creature of habit and convenience, and since my neighborhood is not conducive to walkers (unless you have a death wish) thanks to my neighbors driving as if they are on the NASCAR circuit, I knew I was left with two alternatives; stop walking or pay the fee.  Begrudgingly, I have decided to shell out thirty of my hard-earned dollars so that I can continue my walks at the place I love.  Oh, and just in case you were wondering, there will be no Senior Sunrise discount because even if Mark did qualify, and even though the newly installed sign lists it as an option, the park bullies no longer issue Senior Sunrise discounts…those dirty rotten bastards.

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