I am a wanted woman.

Years ago, I declared Oklahoma to be a superfluous state.

I stand behind that statement. Completely. Never more than now.

There are many roads that will take you from Michigan to Texas.  Just point your car South and a little West.  You’re bound to get there.  Get to Dallas however you’d like and go South.  Another 2 hours on I-35 and you’re in my driveway.  It takes 19 hours no matter which way you go.

UNLESS I am on the night shift (which I was) and miss a turn (which I did) and you lose a half hour and 2 highways (it’s true). Curt was asleep, I was headed West to OK City, and the iPhone (read: gps) was in his britches. 

Dear Oklahoma,

Where are your signs?  ‘Next Exit Contains Blah Blah’ does not give one enough concrete information to relocate themselves on a map at 2am.  It was like entering a foreign country once we crossed into your state… no telephone lines, no signs, no people, no nuthin’.  We drove for miles without knowing what town we were near, what exit number was approaching, or how far to the highway interchange.  Most states use mile markers.  And pictures.  And arrows.   

Speaking of which, Highway 44 takes a mean right turn- like, 90° turn- after Tulsa.  If you’re on the 9pm-3am driving shift, pushing 80 mph, and writing blogs in your head, you can easily miss the change of direction ESPECIALLY SINCE THERE ARE NO SIGNS. Miss the exit?  No problem.  You just continue on a smaller and deceptively similar toll road, through miles of highway with no roadside lights, and across multiple reservations until you realize you are ALONE and completely off track 35 miles later.

And, let’s talk about these toll roads.  Do you have any roads that are NOT toll roads?  I spent the equivalent of my student loans on your toll system and, while driving 75 legally is nice, Mamma has bills to pay.  I think maybe the lack of signs, numbers, and human workers is all a conspiracy to suck every last quarter out of lost travellers who JUST WANT TO GET HOME.


I tried to pay you.  I really did.  Several times.  At the first un-manned booth, we managed to scrounge up the 80 cents in change and throw it in the catcher.  I do mean ‘scrounge.’  We looked under car seats with children sleeping in them, ok?  My light never turned green, and we were alone on a desert tollway at 2:02am, lost on Christmas night.  We finally left.  I felt awful.  Criminal.  Dirty.  Cold.

Being out of change and hitting the 2nd tollbooth about 5 minutes later, we opted to use the bill changer provided. These are a fabulous idea, by the way.  Though, they should work to be effective-  particularly when you’ve given your entire HUMAN workforce the night off.  I wrestled with it for about five minutes- check your security tape– before we finally just left.  Thank you for the insanely loud warning bell that woke up everyone in the car AND GOD.  We got to hear the same criminal! criminal! bell again 5 minutes later at yet ANOTHER unoccupied toll booth with ANOTHER change machine that was, yes, broken. 

At that point, I was coming to terms with my life of petty crime.  I tried the bill changer 3 times- in, oooooout, in, ooooout, IN?  oooooooooout. 

I left with no guilt.

Your security tape from 2:02am to 2:31am is no doubt filled with a crazy woman driving a blue Subaru in cropped linen pants, pumas, and a hooded sweatshirt- hood UP AND TIED because I was Antarctica cold.  All the images are me, and I claim them without pause.  I tried to pay you.

Mail me my ticket(s).  I assume I’ll have to appear before a board of absentee judges and make a payment to a broken ATM machine.  Whatever.  I do appreciate the photo of my license plate crossing the line without paying.  It’s a nice touch.  Please accept this photo of my check. 

I crossed you off my list long ago. 


Leon Patello

(which is the name the Mulder family historically gives when they have been detained by the law or, as it were, campus police)

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

18 responses to “I am a wanted woman.

  • Sunday Grant Photography

    Oh my word!!!! If that is not the greatest thing that I have ever read in my entire life, I don’t know what it is. My friend Katie, the criminal! You are the best. I will stand by you in court.

  • Amy B.

    You. are. funny. Leon.

    I always panic over toll roads, because I just about NEVER have spare change or dollars lying around. (I blame it on Aggie Bucks.) I’m getting better now that I’m in charge of a small life – being more adult-like in that field.

    I accidentally got on the Dallas Tollway on the way to a job interview after graduating from college and was still a nickel short after cleaning out every repository in the car. Fortunately, it was a real person manning the booth and she graciously let me slink on through.

    DO NOT understand those change machines at the toll booths – have never seen one working.

  • Susannah

    ha! perhaps you can pay your bills by heading out on the road with a stand-up comedy gig? me thinks you have a future 😉

  • Amy

    Hey! Tommy is ALWAYS Leon when we need an “alias”. Mine is Carla.
    Great minds think alike.

    And toll booths that have no toll person and broken machines are a waste of time….hopefully the judge will understand your dilemna 😉

  • Aunt Ron

    this just happen to me down here in Uniontown, I didn’t want to be on the toll road, there was no signs, it wa a blizzard, and I only had 20 cents, toll was 80 cents, the fine is 25.00, it will come in the mail…GO STEELERS…..

  • Jessica

    “please accept this photo of my check”……

  • Mandi

    Laughed. Out. Loud. You are hilarious, my friend! That story will keep me smiling all day!

  • regina

    I’d offer to be a character witness but they’d take one look at me and double your fine for associating with hooligans.


  • Miss Laura

    This further convinces me that no one actually INHABITS Oklahoma. (Josh has a friend who allegedly moved to Tulsa, but I’m unconvinced.) This subject somehow came up on Sunday, when I felt compelled (during the sermon) to tell Josh about the time that my friend Melissa and I drove out to California. Going through OK, we observed the absence of a) power lines; b) homes; and therefore (conceivably) c) people. Melissa was on the phone with her mom – “No mom, you don’t understand. There’s no HOMES.” It was a little bit like living The Stand by Stephen King.

    BTW, the first sentence of this post is completely awesome.

  • Rachel

    Oh, Katie…too funny! I’ve been wanting to comment on several posts, but never make my way back to actually do it. So why this post you may ask? Well I think it’s because it strikes me on a more personal note. We, too have fallen prey to the evil schemes of the toll road. Our experience occurred last Christmas upon our return trip from Texas. It too was in the wee hours of the morning around 2 am but in the state of Colorado. All of the booths were unmanned as well and upon entering the first Luke found no change receptacle or change machine- what is a weary traveler to do? So we chose to drive on thru the rest as well, since there appeared no way to pay. Months later, we too received tickets in the mail with pictures of Luke’s license plate. However, they were addressed to Ross L. Fitzwater (Luke’s middle name). Thankfully we were given the choice of paying online so that is what we did.

    I’ll be praying for you and your fam as you seek for answers for your sweet girl, who by the way, is quite possibly the cutest thing ever! So sorry to hear that Gus is still sick- hope he is better soon.

    I also feel your pain about the stir craziness that settles in in the winter. It is hard and can zap you of all motivation. I will be thinking of you as I, too, try to be a better grown up, in this cold dark season. My goal today is to try and tackle the mountain of clothes that has overtaken the laundry.

    Thanks for giving me something to look forward to every Monday and Thursday! You are awesome!

  • Abbie

    I’m pretty sure that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I’m glad to know you are one to miss exits, turns, directions BECAUSE now I’m left to hope that you’ll completely miss the state of Texas and just keep coming West to your ol’ pals in New Mexico! Think abou’ it…

  • Grace

    That is too funny!

    We had a toll booth disaster when we first moved to Mill Valley (just north of San Francisco). Let’s just say we only had enough money to pay the toll one way, and we got in the wrong lane, and we learned a lot about driving in downtown San Fran by accident. Good times, good times.

  • Margie

    Oh my gosh, this is hilarious. Hilarious! You made my day.

    At your photocopied expense, of course.

  • beckyswann

    That was so awesome, my favorite part,”So mail me my ticket(s). I assume I’ll have to appear before a board of absentee judges and make a payment to a broken ATM machine. Whatever. I do appreciate the photo of my license plate crossing the line without paying. It’s a nice touch. Please accept this photo of my check. ”
    that was so funny!
    You sped through those toll booths like the wind comes sweepin down the plain!

  • ginny

    Funny, funny! And it brought back memories of our 4 years living in OK and their kooky roads 🙂

  • Megan

    Kelly McB. keeps telling me to read your work. I always say the same thing. “Oh, yeah. I will.” After all, how interesting can a blog really be? Really. And so on this cold Friday afternoon, in a an effort to NOT do my actual work, I clicked on the TexasNorth link. So here I am. And I have no intention of leaving.

  • Sarah Sebeck

    This story made us laugh. I think tears were streaming from my eyes.

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