I’ve always had a suspicion I shouldn’t drive more than I actually do — 10 minutes back-and-forth to the train station during the week and a few errands on the weekends. I usually only have to fill up my tank once a month. I know my choice to be an urban person is right for me, but this past month, I’ve realized it’s also an excellent choice for the public. During this month of the BIg Ass Work Project with late hours, I decided to drive in rather than take the train. It’s not even 10 miles, which I know is child’s play for all you serious hard-core driving commuters out there, so feel free to flip me the bird when you drive by me. I totally get it.
In my defense, it is 10 miles of urban driving, and I did manage the highway portion of it without taking anyone out, so that’s something. The highway part of my commute involved taking the Sumner Tunnel under the harbor and into Boston. So that’s three lanes going into five tollbooths (two cash and three EZ Pass) and then we all funnel into two lanes. One mile. Under water. No breakdown lane. No escape. Wicked fun.
Some days it was backed way up, although in electronic irony, the two cash lanes were always wide open. I actually took to carrying cash to get through a little faster, just so I could then wait to get into the two-lane tunnel. But the back-up part just fascinated me — how different the traffic could be every day. Sometimes after a big back up day, there was less traffic, and I could drive right up to the tolls. So what happened to all those people from the day before? Did they just say the hell with work today? Were they fired? How can you have that kind of fluctuation? On the train, it’s pretty much the same number of riders every day, and if there are a lot more than usual, it’s because an earlier train was disabled. And if it’s empty, it’s because you think it’s Friday, but it’s actually Saturday.
So clearly I will not master the mysteries of driving to work any time soon. And I mostly behaved myself, except for the occasional sarcastic remark, “Your signal is that lever sticking out of your steering wheel. You should try it, It’s fun!”
Once I emerged from the tunnel onto the Boston side, then the real fun/potential public hazard began. From the tunnel to the garage I parked at is about 4/10 of a mile. A mere 4/10 of a mile that involves four lights, the last of which is green for six seconds, count them 1,2,3,4,5,6, five big commuting pedestrian crossings, and a major sports/concert arena. Believe me the only thing worse than a group of empowered commuting pedestrians is a group of empowered pedestrians who are also happy to be going to a concert or sporting event. Ugh! But luckily they only appeared at the end of the occasional day, whereas the commuting pedestrians are around day and night. And I’ve been one of them too, so I know these crossings are a totally game of chicken, whether the traffic light says red or green.
So between dodging pedestrians and losing consciousness through three cycles for the six-second light, I was in no mood for the final, worst final part of my drive: getting into the garage.
Look, I know Boston has no signage, and I don’t expect any, but that last configuration of how to turn into the garage was difficult to guess at, even for cynical driver like me. I was forced to do what I needed to do: I didn’t break any of the rules of the signs I could see. So I drove down the end of the short street to the stop sign. At that stop sign, most cars go right, onto another road or into a garage on the right. My garage was on the left. So I turned left and then had to wait to cross three lanes of traffic from two ramps. But apparently the ramp people weren’t use to a car on this little short street — let me reiterate there was no sign to tell me I couldn’t be there.
Not once, but three different times a car from the ramp started to turn into the street where I was patiently waiting. And then it stopped dead in front of my car. All the drivers had a completely blank look on their face. Mind you, this little road I’m on is two lanes wide, so they can go around me. But when that had not occurred to them within a few seconds after encountering me, I did what any self-respecting Boston driver would do: I gestured angrily, first pointing forward to indicate I was waiting for their lethargic butts to go so I could go into the garage directly ahead of me, and then I pointed at them — deer in the headlights– just drive around to the large expanse of road to my left, idiot. The funny thing was, they obeyed me without flipping the finger or getting angry back, so I was pretty sure I was in the right.
I admit that after the second time it happened, I carefully looked at all the signs in the area. There were no signs to indicate that what I was doing was prohibited in any way, so I felt confident in my angry gesturing. It actually felt kind of fun, as being in the right often does.
On the second to the last day of the project, the car in front of me wanted to turn into the garage as well, but instead of going on the little road that messes with people, he drove into this little cut-out that had been puzzling me the whole month. It was a single lane actually along side of the oncoming lanes, but very obviously demarcated with a cobblestone divider between it and the oncoming lanes. There were construction cones and scaffolding between the little cut out and the lane I had been using, so it wasn’t obvious we were even allowed there. In fact, when exiting the garage, I had often driven over the cobblestone. But that car confidently swooped into that lane without hesitation, which put it close to a direct left-hand turn into that garage. And, I might add, out of harms way of the stupified people who were stopping dead in front of my car. Sheer. Diabolical. Genius. And also impossible to decipher without a decoder ring.
On the map on my phone, it actually almost looks like something you might be able to follow. Reality? Not so much. See below:
As you can see, there are more barriers and lack of signage than a war zone. And by way by the way, Siri couldn’t even find my garage and was trying to send me to the garage to the right.
But no worries, starting today it’s back to the train for me, and the commuter driving world will be a little safer. You people on the train, though, better watch out.