For questions about token redemption, call 401-423-0800 or visit www.ritba.org.
Turns out RITBA isn’t actually trivializing the release of sin. It is merely informing us that the day is coming when we will no longer be able to trade in a brass coin with the Newport Pell Bridge imprint on it for an 83-cent check from the state. Token holders have until May 15 to get reimbursed for dropping off their bridge coins to the RIBTA customer service center. After that date, all collected tokens will be sold for their scrap metal value. The coins were replaced by the awkwardly-named E-ZPass transponder system last spring. The new transaction eliminates humans and token-catching baskets and the human error of missing the basket while tossing your token on the move. It involves a little white box that you put on your windshield, which sends a signal to the automated tollbooth to lift an orange-colored arm that lets you cross the bridge. (The arms used to be green, until Rhode Islanders kept smashing through them, prompting the color change.) The little white box also counts how many times you pass through a toll and calculates how much to charge your credit card. I’m told certain models of the little white box will even do your taxes.
Not for nothin’: UK edition
Rhode Islanders aren’t the only folks who understand the rhetorical eloquence and sway of a good “not for nothin’” barb. In the “Talking points” section of the March 27 edition of the British magazine The Week, editors made good use of the phrase. The report concerned the suspected corruption of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which was complicit in allowing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to reject a worldwide ban on fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna, even though stocks have declined to 15 percent of their historic levels. The decision likely served as a death warrant to the entire species, prompting The Week’s editors to write: “Not for nothing has this body been dubbed the ‘International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.’” Brilliant, despite the too-proper spelling of “nothing,” which no doubt takes a bit of the oomph out of the gibe for purists of Rhode Islandese.
Oops. Had my fingers on the wrong keys and ended up typing an Icelandic volcano.
But come to think of it, the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland has dominated the headlines for a couple of weeks now without a single size of Rhode Island reference. The closest I could find was buried in the comments section of a Huffington Post story. In a thread about natural disasters and global warming, poster Rob the Plumber (no relation to Joe, apparently), had this to say:
Global warming has resulted in acceleration of glacial calving in the northern hemisphere and increased seasonal breakouts of polar bergs. In the south, ice sheets in Antarctica are breaking off, resulting in icebergs the size of Rhode Island.
But of course we already knew that. (See “Floating Rhody,” posted April 5.) Still, the thought of doomsday arriving in the shape of Rhode Island-sized clouds made from volcanic ash traveling the globe on prevailing winds may inspire a little token redemption after all.
At any rate, the volcanic plume has created travel nightmares for millions, which, as we like to say, got us to thinkin’: What is your best worst travel story?