Jun 27, 2007

Holy Hell!

Some explanation, perhaps.

As noted, in between shadowing, studying, and bumming, I've been burning off on side trips to explore the surroundings. Since I'm currently in Southern New Hampshire, this made a trip to Boston somewhat inevitable, since it seemed like something to see.

Unfortunately, since I went to school in California, while we were learning about the Gold Rush, everyone else in the country went to a class that said "Don't ever drive in Boston. Try to avoid driving in Massachusetts altogether. The people there are nearly as insane as the non-layout of the city which seems to have been hacked together by a deranged chimpanzee. If Boston were laid out anywhere near the way it is now during the Revolutionary War, we'd be speaking proper English, drinking good tea, eating bad food, and Paul Revere would, to this day, still be riding around in circles near Commonwealth going "Where the hell is the frigging freeway??? The map shows 14 of them here! I'm NEVER going to get these lights in the windows, and then all the poets will have to write about is a stupid red wheelbarrow beside the white chickens."

I've driven in San Francisco. This city features psychotic MUNI drivers and stop signs at the crest of 45 degree angled hills, double parking, one way streets, and nearly no parking.

I've driven in Tiajuana, where you have to dodge not only the statues arbitrarily placed in the middle of roads, but children selling various things that run at your cars, and the stigma of the California plate on the front and back end of your car that makes you a rolling target.

I've driven in Los Angeles, and love my impatient, SWAT team manuevering gun-toting amigos, and south of Pasadena, I am so in love with their much hated freeway system that I think I would get down on one knee and MARRY it if they'd allow such unions outside of Massachusetts.

I've driven through D.C., Salt Lake City, Atlanta, across the country via different routes twice, through blowing snow, over Donner Summit during a blizzard (a condition which has, in the past, led to cannibalism; I'm just saying), and yet all of this is a Sunday drive back from grandma's in comparison to Boston. Holy shit.

As I mentioned in the Montreal post, a city also notorious for bad driving habits, but which I found perfectly hospitable for lost tourists (save for the horse-drawn carriages in oldtown), when in a large city, I go with the general tradition of driving around sightseeing until I see freeway signs.

Don't. Ever. Do. That. In. Boston. There aren't any freeway signs. The freeways that are supposed to be there, as in, marked on maps, show no ways of accessing them, and roads that are straight on maps dead end into buildings forcing a quick left or right.

You'd think with a maze of schitzophrenic design and a town heavily inundated with tourists, the local drivers, like San Francisco, would have a built in element of patience with people. Not so. So I'm going to make a few suggestions:

First off, I hate it when people drift off at green lights too, but I own a stick shift. If I'm on a hill and you are three inches from my bumper, it's going to take me a leetle more time to get going as I am now ensuring that I don't roll back slightly and hit your tailgating ass. You also do not need to honk at me simply because the light has turned green and my foot is actively pressing down the clutch to take off. The only way you could conceivably honk that fast is if your hand was already on the horn, so kindly bite me.

Since we're on the topic of horns, while horns are certainly a fun novelty item in that they make a funny noise, and in Grenada, are used to say "hi", "screw you", "I'm here", "I know you", "It's clear", "It's not clear", and "you've run over my wife's foot", blaring the horn for no reason (such as the person in front of you being stopped at a red light) tends to inspire those of us with Los Angeles driving habits to reach for our nines. I'm just saying...

When driving, my rear bumper is not a security blanket for your front fender. I'm not sure why my driving 15 over the speed limit in a right hand lane is an invitation for you to ride me so hard I feel like I should be charging a fee, and then without real reason, for you to jerk into the empty other lane like you've had a seizure, but it's unsettling, and tends to elicit a similar reaction to the one above.

While it is exceedingly obnoxious that the roads are open expanses of asphalt without the limitations of lane markings, as I'm traveling, pulling up next to me and then gradually drifting into my passenger door as you contemplate either the Red Sox or man's place in the universe, is not appreciated.

While I appreciate that turn signals are too distracting to use in what must be the exhausting effort of remaining that precise two inches from the next person's bumper, your lack of using them means I am not going to know or act accordingly if you're coming over into my lane, thus ire on your part will not find a sympathetic recipient on mine. Similarly, if I put MY signal on, it is a statement of intent, thus gunning your engine to block me is only going to provide you a test of your brakes (and your horns). I drive a car that comes with a 5 cent redemption and I don't live in this country. Do you feel lucky?

Please examine the rotaries and strongly consider placing suggestions for right of way. The strategy of "Everyone" doesn't seem to be working and appears to cause you folks to even prey on each other from the number of horns blaring, lest you think tourists are the only ones that can't seem to navigate these. For the uninitiated, a rotary is like a roundabout, if a roundabout could speedball.

For your own safety and comfort, since you do like driving in the breakdown lanes, consider consulting (or hiring) city planners to remove the obstacles from the areas in which this behavior is actually legal. It is disturbing to drive in what the city has designated "a temporary" lane only to have a guardrail suddenly appear in the middle of it, which I gather annoys you too from the way you swing abruptly back into traffic (sans signal), nearly taking out whoever might be to the left of you.

So that was my beginning Boston impression. Since I knew parking there was even more elusive than San Francisco's and equally expensive, it was decided to simply head to Cape Cod, which, due to circling Boston for three hours and a trip to Sears to repair a tire (nice potholes, guys), we never made. We did get as far as Plymouth once most things were closed, and I got a picture of the famous rock to prove I survived the trip through Boston and made it someplace famous.

Plymouth Rock is worth seeing because it's funny and even more spectacularly underwhelming than the Hope Diamond. I'd like to see the rest of the actual historical town which did look really cool, but the rock itself is surrounded by lights and faux Greco-Roman columns, which in turn are surrounded by historical markers, and it's... a rock. With "1620" carved on it. It's not really a big or impressive rock, in fact, save date, identical to other ocean rocks. I suppose the Pilgrims came across it and said "Wow! this rock already HAS 1620 carved on it! Well that's a time saver! Quick! Build some columns and get the camera."

Plymouth is also a surprisingly happening town for what I would have thought would be kind of a sleepy tourist town after dark, but instead it seems to suffer a local infestation of teenagers most of whom were white, packed into the local malt shop, and often clad in leather jackets, making me really feel like I'd wandered into a 1950s teen flick. I kept expecting Bobby to invite Mary Sue to the sock hop. Of course, the over 21s, myself included, took to hanging at the local blues joint, which was pretty cool and far less like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Today? After dragging in at 2 in the morning having survived Massachusetts, it was back to the office to have everyone go "Ohhh. You drove in Boston? Silly girl... tsk tsk", but I got to watch a few procedures and meet some interesting patients since one of the docs seemed to be seeing his full collection of crazies. You know it's bad when you hear him mutter "page me in five minutes" to one of the medical assistants, for reasons that became obvious upon sitting in the session. Whew!


MaryE said...

hehehe Ishie, my husbands family is from Plymouth! Really cool group of people as long as you don't drive with them in Boston.

His Aunt & Uncle were going to take us to some tall building in Boston (drivng from Plymouth/Kingston). I have vivid memories from the early 80's of riding in the back seat with my husband while his uncle drove to the tune of Aunt Mamie saying "Ralph" go here. It worked so well that we ending up going the wrong way down a 4 lane one way street. (I think Tom still has the gouge marks in his leg from me freaking out) LOL

I ran two blocks in the rain to see Plymouth rock. Like you I was under-whelmed. It's a freakin' rock. I really expected way more than what we got.

The funny thing was when the tide went out and all the boats were sitting on the ground in the harbor. To someone like me from Miami who has never seen such a tidal change I wanted to know who the heck pulled the plug!

I love keeping up with your blog & adventures. Miss you over on Annex but know I am living vicariously through you! Stay safe and enjoy your summer.

Anonymous said...

ROFL -- I lived in the Boston area (Everett, to be exact) for nearly six years.

You haven't lived until you're sitting at a red light in the left turn lane and the guy in the straight lane next to you beeps at you and holds out his hand in a "stay back" gesture... and then zooms around you into a left turn cutting you off when the light turns green.

Happened to me in -- you guessed it -- Boston.

But then I lived in Pittsburgh for five years... trust me... with those experiences plus the ones from Boston I've learned some nasty erm, tricks I could pull if I wanted to... ;-)