I was unaware — until it was too late — that to have your car pass inspection here in Washington, you not only had to take it to a designated place, but that you had to schedule an appointment online… and that the next two weeks were booked solid.
So, I’ve been driving to work, which is only about six bucks more than riding the train ($2.20 each way for a mere four-station-long commute). And I’d like to share my initial impressions on the distinctions between drivers here and the ones in Boston.
I have a fairly simplistic, albeit somewhat condemnatory, overall thesis about the whole thing. Okay: imagine two planes stuck out on the tarmac for six hours each. For whatever societal reasons come into play in that situation, one plane’s passengers weather the storm with patience and reluctant understanding; in the other plane, though, federal marshals are restraining livid passengers and a flight attendant is bailing down the inflatable chute.
One set understands its circumstances, and recognizes its inability to fundamentally change the situation. The other (the fucking idiots) do not.
Boston drivers suffer horrible commutes, nightmarish winter weather, and insanely screwed-up traffic patterns with, all things considered, a decent attitude. Driving there is a sport, a way of life; and, like in sports or in life, you win some, and you lose some.
A much poorer attitude pervades the spirits of DC drivers. No matter how oppressive the traffic, they seem to lose not only their manners (which is somewhat expected) but also all semblance of rational thought (which is depressing).
I really only have one pillar on which to base this massive generalization: the way drivers here pour into an intersection — even though they obviously “won’t make it” by the time the light’s turned to red — during rush-hour traffic. Boston was the first city where I ever saw this disgusting ritual performed, but only occasionally. Here, everyone cruises right into a blocked intersection like it’s their fucking birthright.
Example: Thursday morning traffic in a BIG area of downtown DC came to an absolute STANDSTILL for several minutes (I’m guessing the President was in the neighborhood). Traffic was simply not moving. Imagine hundreds of drawbridges and jersey barriers popping up throughout our nation’s capital; that’s what it was like. After about 5 minutes of this, I decided to make a U-turn and find a different way in. Going against traffic, I came to intersection after intersection where traffic going the other way was threatening to cause complete gridlock. At one intersection, I had to laugh when some guy driving a Canada Dry truck, 25 feet or so in length, had apparently driven right into stopped traffic and was occupying more than 50% of the intersection’s width.
But it’s not just this practice that is so horrible; it is, more so, the outright meanness that these drivers wield while driving their awful deeds. To wit:
– A woman angrily waved me to turn left in front of her; by letting me go she postponed her rush to the stopped cars 20 feet in front of her by at least three seconds.
– Some guy behind me was honking the INSTANT the light turned green, for four consecutive lights, even though we were sitting in third-degree rush hour traffic;
– Some really scary dude clearly mouthed the word “MOTHERFUCKER!” when I made a wrong turn then tried to correct it.
And this is just in the course of one month. So say a little prayer that you’ll never be stuck on a runway for a long time… especially if you’re flying out of Washington.