RANGE: The Toll Troll can be found on bridges, thruways and turnpikes throughout the nation. He is a first cousin of the Lost Changeling, that exasperatingly greedy gremlin who makes his home in every vending machine everywhere. The Toll Troll, like the Lost Changeling, makes a practice of rejecting perfectly good American coins, stealing the odd one, and gleefully jamming the coin-operated gizmo he inhabits.
HABITS: A mean and petty spirit, the Toll Troll seems to sense, in some mysterious way, when one has in one’s possession only a single coin, token, or slug with which to operate a subway turnstile, freeway gate, or vibrating motel room bed. The Troll then causes the machine to malfunction in the most damaging way. Anyone who has suffered a blow in the reproductive area from a jammed subway turnstile, has encountered a member of the subspecies: the Token Minority. Anyone who has been chased inexplicably by state police for defrauding the turnpike authority or even been deprived of the badly needed vibrations of a motel bed has surely encountered the petulant Troll. The single recompense the Toll Troll makes to victims is its way of getting even with others. This ill-natured creature dislikes coin operated machine owners as much as patrons. This is why, upon occasion, a pay phone returns more money than a casino slot machine, a juke box plays an extra song, and subway clerks, handed a dollar bill, give you change for a twenty. It is symptomatic of his malign nature that the Toll Troll, who could afford to winter in Vegas, prefers to spend the cold months in poorly maintained coffee machines in corporate cafeterias. There he can steal your dime, drop the cup sideways, pour coffee on it, and give you a nickel back. That way nobody wins. Except the Toll Troll.
HISTORY: Toll Trolls are Greek-descendants of Charon, who ferried the dead to Hades only after collecting the coins placed on their eyelids. They are curiously stubborn and warlike, and often, when they owe you twenty-five cents change, will quote the late General MacArthur, “I give no quarter.”
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Within a vending machine dented with fistprints lurks the Troll, in shattered phone booths and punched-out video game arcades. But he also turns up (like the proverbial bad penny) in every purse and pocket, glove compartment and piggy bank, ready to light up the TILT sign on the pinball machine of life. Myth has it that if you catch a Toll Troll and manage to break its legs, the mafia will give you a thousand dollars.