The Life of a Toll Collector
Recently, the Edmond Outlook sat down with Stan Helber, toll collector at the Santa Fe toll plaza on the Kilpatrick Turnpike, for a glimpse into the world of a man whose occupation consistently keeps him on the road.
What is worse, the really hot days or the really cold days?
“Well, I really dislike the cold. However, I don't get cold that easy. I was in the Air Force for 25 years and part of that time I spent in Alaska. So the cold around here is not too bad.”
Are people generally nice, or are they in a big hurry?
“Oh yeah, you would be surprised. 99.9% of all the people that come through are really nice. It makes the job a lot of fun, most of the time.”
Do people ever bring you things, such as food or drinks?
“They do. I always take it. I don't want to rob people of their caring and their giving. However, if I don't know the person, I 'file' it [in the trashcan].”
What is the craziest thing that you have seen in your three years of being a toll collector?
“I'm not sure that you want to print that,” he said with large grin. “But not long ago, a young lady got up and mooned the car behind her. I told her that would look really good on the [surveillance] video.”
Are most cars like mine, that is, are they dirty on the inside?
“I would say that a lot of them are. However, I have learned that you don't look inside. That is the customer’s personal space.”
Do the hours get long throughout the day?
“No, they generally don't. I like to spend some of the slow time cleaning or just preparing for the next rush, because it's going to happen.”
What do you like least about the job?
“It would have to be the blowing rain. If it's just raining that's fine. But when it's blowing in, the equipment is getting wet; I'm getting wet. It is just miserable.”
And when duty calls, what about the restroom?
“You shut down your lane and make a dash for the toll plaza. But you better make it quick because the cars are going to be backing up in a hurry,”
Some interesting facts about the Oklahoma Turnpikes include:
There are just under one million Pike Pass accounts within the state.
Sixty percent of all vehicles on the turnpike use a Pike Pass.
Oklahoma has the second most turnpike miles of any state, at just under 600 miles.
On any given day, 96,897 cars travel on the Kilpatrick Turnpike. This is just under the 100,594 that travel the Creek Turnpike, in Tulsa, each day.