Boston Traffic 12/7/22

Humor with Richard Bleil

Author’s Note: My apologies to my friends from Boston.  I’ll be poking fun of Boston drivers and traffic, based on a letter that I wrote to my mother a few weeks after I started graduate school.  It’s all tongue-in-cheek and intended to be written in good humor. 

Some weeks after arriving in Boston to start graduate school, I came to realize that the traffic in Boston is, well, it’s just crazy.  I wrote a letter to my mother delineating, in a humorous way, what seemed to be the traffic laws to a wet-behind-the-ears new Bostonian driver.  Of course, I don’t remember the letter exactly, so I’ll paraphrase what I wrote here.

  • Left turn only lanes aren’t.
  • The rules on a roundabout change depending on where you are.  As you approach it, you have the right-of-way when entering the roundabout.  But when you’re ready to exit, you have the right-of-way when exiting.  Don’t ask me, I don’t understand.
  • Triple-parking is absolutely forbidden unless all of the double-parking spaces have been taken.  (As a side story that is true, my friend one day managed to get one of the rare “primo” parking spaces in Boston.  While parked, the city put a “boot” on his car.  For those who don’t know, a “boot” is basically a clamp that goes on your tire making it impossible to drive, deployed when you have too many unpaid traffic fines, an odd ploy in a city where parking is so hard to find.  When he realized that his car had been “booted”, he decided not to pay to have it cleared because his parking spot was just too sweet.)
  • You’re allowed to turn left through a red light if you are close enough to the vehicle in front of you.
  • If you are at a red light, the laws change depending on your position.  If you’re the first car at the red light, then by law you have to pause when the light turns green just in case somebody is trying to beat the red turn light.  However, if you’re the second car at a red light, then by law you have to honk as soon as the opposing light turns yellow.
  • If you see a slight fender-bender in the morning, then by law you have to stop and help while on your way to work.  However, if you’re driving home at night and there’s a car upside down and on fire with the driver trapped inside, then by law you have to honk and yell at that son of a bitch to get the piece of shit OUT OF THE WAY!
  • There are no speed limits.  Only speed pleas. 
  • Don’t use your blinker.  That’s just what they’re expecting you to do.

Okay, let’s be fair.  Boston drivers are crazy, but it’s actually not as dangerous as you might think.  The thing about Boston drivers is that they’re all doing the exact same crazy thing, so at least you know it’s coming.  In New York City, everybody is doing different crazy things.  There’s an old joke that goes, “what happens when you have a New York driver and a Boston driver in opposing directions at a light?  A collision.”

Through the years, I’ve driven through a lot of crazy things.  In the New Jersey Bypass, I drove over ninety miles-per-hour in a sixty mile-per-hour speed zone, but that’s not the crazy part.  The reality is that the traffic was bumper to bumper.  Anybody trying to slow down would have caused major problems, so for safety’s sake, I just went along with it with maybe a foot or two behind the car in front of me, and the car following me just as close.  Do you want to make it crazier?  I looked over at the driver next to me, and he was reading a newspaper.  Oh, do you think that driving without paying attention is the kicker?  No.  The kicker is that he was holding a hot coffee in the other hand.  I assume he was steering with his knee, if indeed he was steering at all.

In the past, I’ve already written about my horrific crash circa 1985.  I probably should have died that day.  Remember that you can be the safest driver in the world, but there is nothing that you can do about the idiots around you.  So why add to the chaos?  We’re in the holiday seasons now and remember that there is somebody out there who cares about you.  So please, for their sake and the sake of those around you, be patient, be forgiving, be generous, and let people merge in front of you while keeping a safe braking distance.  Your life is worth it.

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