Clusterfun in Boston

I like to brag that I’ve driven all over the world. And it’s kind of true. I’ve driven a stick shift in London which entails doing just about everything you’ve ever learned backward, while navigating some seriously narrow and high speed traffic scenarios. I’ve driven in Prague where the road signs are written in some sort of foreign language that uses squiggles and math symbols instead of letters. I’ve even driven in Thailand, which is in South America I think. So it always strikes me as odd that the place I find most confounding, most confusing, and most difficult to drive in is in my own backyard. I am of course speaking of Boston, Massachusetts. The roads were famously laid out on the original cart paths that meandered through the city before the automobile, but wouldn’t that more or less apply to every city in the world except Vegas and Orlando? Apparently, Boston’s oxen and cows were very drunk. And the city planners, being Irish themselves, just went with that. I estimate that I have driven in Boston about 60 times in my life, and I’ve gotten lost every single one of them. Even on milk runs straight down the freeway and under the bay to Logan Airport will inevitably involve a construction detour to say, Pennsylvania and back, on side streets.
The civic engineers in Boston have strict rules. All intersections in Boston are required to have at least 5 and preferably 9 roads converging at them and no road may retain its former name past said intersection. The guys responsible for signing Storrow Drive clearly had a sense of humor. They combined a high speed limit with exit sign vagueness (bordering on the criminal) that was guaranteed to deposit hundreds of people shooting for Cambridge into the Back Bay, and visa-versa, every hour.
Perhaps the most maddening thing about driving is Boston is that there are absolutely NO comebacks. If you drive past your destination, even a few hundred feet, as in “oh crap, there’s the Starbucks I was supposed to meet them at but couldn’t see because I was trying to survive a roundabout that is really a polynomial mating with a wildebeest “ you’re toast. You cannot turn around at the next light and just come back. If you take a right, you will be on a one-way that leads into the bowels of the Big Dig, or possibly Hades. Turning left won’t work because the road has suddenly become a divided highway with no exits until Medford. Even if you could return via the same road, there would be no way to turn left across the sunken viaduct and against the angry Masshole cutting you off with his Beamer.
“Sorry, kids, that was the turn for Aunt Mabel’s hospital, but by the time I get you back there, I’m pretty sure she will have passed.”

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One Response to Clusterfun in Boston

  1. Joni Cole says:

    Tom, HILARIOUS (and all too true) post about driving in Boston. Of course, I’ve been afraid to try it and now I’ll NEVER try it, thanks to your commentary. Guess I’ll just have to keep taking public transport. Thanks for the fun read.

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