By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
Driving into South Dakota, I saw several things that really drove home the fact that I was, indeed, moving to South Dakota. The highway on-ramps had built in electronic barracades so they could close them off remotely when the highway was closed due to inclement weather. At a truck stop I saw spray on deer repellent. At the same place I saw a vending machine for live bait.
A vending machine for live bait.
My point is that, no matter where you live, there will be unique characteristics that will strike an outsider odd. If my friends in South Dakota are reading this, they’re thinking, “yeah, and?” Meanwhile my friends from the east coast are thinking, “what the…?”
Me? I’m originally from Ohio. So when I drove to Boston (where I lived for several years), there were things that struck me as odd. In a deli, I was purchasing a sandwich. The refrigerator was near the door, so as I was being “rung up”, I said, “And please charge me for a can of pop. I’ll pick it up on the way out.” The woman standing next to me, in a very snooty tone, said, in all seriousness, “It’s a ‘SODA’!” I looked at her and said, “No, it’s a ‘carbonated beverage’.”
Everybody does dumb things when they drive, but the interesting thing is that it’s not so bad since everybody is doing the same dumb thing. Here are a few of what I deduced:
Triple parking is banned, until all of the double parking spaces are filled.
There are no speed limits, just speed pleas.
Left turn only lanes aren’t.
The other driver has the right of way entering a roundabout, on the roundabout, and exiting the roundabout. You’re just dirt.
You can ignore red lights, regardless of how long they’ve been red, provided you are close enough to the bumper of the car running the red light in front of you.
If you see a car upside down on fire with the driver trapped inside, you must stop and yell for that idiot to GET THAT PIECE OF CRAP OFF OF THE ROAD!!!
If you’re the first car at a red light, you must hesitate when it turns green in case some driver is legally running the red on the tail bumper of the car in front. However, if you are the second car in line, by law, you must honk when the opposing light turns yellow.
Driving from Boston to the south side, all roads, every single one of them, merge into a two-lane tunnel, and expand on the other side. Of course, this is also true in the opposite direction. I myself lived in Chestnut Hill, and only crossed the bay a couple of times. Driving back drove me crazy. The exit to Chestnut Hill was clearly marked as the roads expanded back out. It really was, but not in advance. In fact, it was clearly marked AFTER the exit, just in time so you could see that you missed it. The road that you were on, then, took you, well, I’m not sure where, but wherever it was, you couldn’t get back from there.
In downtown Boston, the alleyways were so cool. Still brick road, they were just wide enough for one vehicle, so they were all one-way. The reason, I’m told, is that when Boston was still being built, there was a law that all roads be wide enough for two horses to pass when traveling in opposite directions. One of my favorite signs was at one of these that said “Alcoholics Anonymous” pointing down one of the alleyways. Immediate beneath it was a “One Way” sign pointing the opposite direction.
I did love the seafood. You could even get a McLobster sandwich. Yup, McLobster. Nope, never had the nerve to try it.
They had a club at one point called “Someplace Else”. I know, because I saw the sign, but the club was already gone. The sign was literally on an empty lot reading “Someplace Else”.
If you ever want a place resplendent in history, culture, with great seafood and lots to do, I do recommend Boston. You won’t be disappointed. And remember…it’s a “SODA”!