By Anessa V. Cohen

We all love when new stuff comes on the market–the latest iPhone, small computers with a terabyte of storage (when many people are still getting used to the feeling that a computer with a gigabyte of memory is not one with all the bells and whistles), cars with funny-shaped ultramodern headlights, house security systems that can be programmed while on vacation through an app on your cellphone . . . the list goes on and on.

Following the progression of all the new gadgets and life improvements that seem to roll out monthly as if on a conveyer belt sometimes make me feel as if I have gone back to school. The new stuff comes out, you need to study exactly what it does and if it really will improve the quality of your life (certainly the price tags they carry will decrease the quality of your life), and if this is not enough, you need a second course for the many upgrades to the stuff you have already bought that within a week has suddenly become obsolete without the mountain of upgrades that constantly appear. All this to keep you on your toes.

Keeping up with all this stuff is like navigating an electronic obstacle course. You’ve got to be in it to win it! And if you get over the obstacle course of all the upgrades released for that week, you are considered young again since you are keeping with the program.

I was thinking about all these new upgrades the other day as I was coming back from New Jersey and sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting to get over the Throgs Neck Bridge. I hadn’t used that bridge in a while, and so I started muttering under my breath about all the drivers without E‑ZPass inching their way to the toll plaza, tying up traffic while they pulled out their wallets or counted their change to pay the toll when it came their turn.

The funny part of the story was yet to come. As I neared the area of the entry to the bridge where the tollbooths were, lo and behold, all the booths were gone; the entire toll plaza had been wiped clean of those little booths and stanchions that created line after line and held up traffic.

The sign above the plaza stated that the tolls were now being collected electronically. Those who had E‑ZPass would be digitally charged, and those who didn’t would get bills in the mail based on the license plates on their cars as they were videoed passing through the old toll plaza.

My immediate thought was, “This is terrific! They are doing exactly what Israel has been doing for years on Route 6.” I then realized that although this was wonderful in theory, traffic was still backed up as cars inched along instead of driving at the regular speed limit. I realized that many of the drivers holding up traffic were doing so because they were totally confused–instead of reading the signs, they were still searching for the missing tollbooths, afraid that if they speeded up, they would have to stop suddenly when the booths finally appeared.

The area directly beyond where the toll plaza previously stood was completely clear, so it was obvious that people had slowed their cars and were causing a traffic backup because they were afraid to move ahead even though clearly there was no toll plaza. Perhaps they were worried they would get into trouble for not stopping and paying the toll.

I do not think these were the types of people who buy new gadgets or upgrade their existing ones on a regular basis, otherwise they would have just moved right along, excited about the updated toll system, as opposed to inching along, looking lost. Come on, it’s time to get with the program!

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to



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