Driving, Defending, and Dunkin

No, this isn’t a preview of Thursday’s Lakers-Celtics game (which I will be attending with, and thanks to, my good buddy Nate), but rather some thoughts on New England driving, the defense of my parking spot from encroaching cars and snow piles, and of course the ubiquitous Dunkin Donuts.

Driving

There are good and bad drivers everywhere I’ve lived.  I think in general, most drivers (cabbies notwithstanding) set out to be safe and respectful of others, and that those good intentions, regardless of one’s actual abilities, prevent accidents more often than not.  But there are also a lot of idiots on the road, and I think each region produces a certain variety. Los Angeles has a disproportionate share of road ragers.  The Bay Area is home to the eco-agro Prius driver (friend of the environment; total jerk to his fellow man).

Boston, I’m learning, is home to the rules-of-the-road-ignorer.  I’ve witnessed no less than 10 cars run red lights in Boston and its suburbs. And every variety of the violation:

  • The classic blowing through the intersection a good half-second after the light changed.  This one actually isn’t that dangerous to other motorists, because drivers here, unlike in LA, don’t anticipate the green to get a quick jump off the line.  Pedestrians beware, however.
  • The “I can make a U-turn against this red-light without actually advancing into the intersection”.  I love witnessing this one because it happens so slowly.  It’s the equivalent of a bank robber walking with a limp on his way to the getaway car. Sometimes you even see a three-point illegal U-turn against the red-light.  Respect.
  • The most common of all is the drift.  “No one’s coming, I’m inching out….I’m going.”  And it’s not limited to late night hours or empty streets either.  Red lights = stop signs out here to a lot of drivers.  It goes against my expectations of Puritan ideals and Catholic guilt in New Englanders.

The snow also creates all sorts of interesting phenomena on the road, from the amusing (drivers struggling to determine if Beacon Street is now a one- or two-lane road, with the parked cars on either side extending half-way into the outer lanes on account of the six-foot wide snow banks on each side)

Beacon street, winter, snow-covered

to the dangerous (the guy on I-84 whose windshield was shattered by a block of snow flying off the roof of another car – happened right in front of us; should be against the law in every state to not clean the snow off your car).

We’ll see how I do out here, because I definitely have a bit of the LA rage in me, my Bay Area company assigned me a Prius, and I’m jonesing for the first safe opportunity to drift through the red light at the corner of Commonwealth and Dartmouth, like everyone else does.

Defending the Parking Spot

The tone was set by our neighbors who greeted our arrival by dumping all of their snow in our parking spot.  I’m talking three to six inches of hardpack or ice, topped with a foot or so of packed powder.  Three hours of shoveling.  These are people with whom we share walls  in the building.   They see us every day now, but they’re afraid to make eye contact.  They know what they did.

As the snow has piled up – we’ve gotten another three or four feet since we arrived a month ago – the cold war of snow removal has only gotten chillier.  Or is it frostier?  I don’t know.  It’s gotten worse, is what I’m trying to say.   And although it’s annoying to see new piles of snow around my car a couple hours after I shoveled it, it’s hard to blame anyone.  There is nowhere left to put snow.  I can dump it in the alley, where it’ll be plowed right back into the spots; I can try to throw it on top of the eight-foot pile behind my car, but I’m likely to separate my shoulder doing that; or I can push it in front the next guy’s car.

This snow is getting to people.  If we get a couple more Nor’easters, things are going to get ugly.

Dunkin

They’re everywhere.  And Dunkin Donuts is such an institution out here that there’s not much left to be said or written.   Yep, I’ve learned that they default to 3 creams and 5 sugars in the coffee.  I make sure to say ‘black’.  So I offer just a few observations:

  • They’re in malls, strips, airports, office buildings, but my favorite are the from-the-ground-up variety.  They look like banks.  Beautiful, stand alone brick buildings in rural areas. Well done, Dunkin.   Secure that donut.

  • Iced coffee is HUGE out here.  It could be 25 degrees and snowing and I’ll still see folks walking around with their 20 oz. iced coffee, fully loaded with cream and sugar, any time of day. Perhaps these people avoid gaining weight by shivering.  But they don’t eat donuts.  Only I, the California boy, scarfs down donuts.
  • Their donut selection sucks.  Now, I’m partly to blame because I use the drive-thru most of the time and don’t get to see the product on display.  And they of course don’t list the donuts on the drive-thru menu, though they should.  So, when asked what type of donuts I wanted, I asked for a Glazed Old Fashioned. Nope.  Really?  How about a Maple Bar?  Sorry.  Fine, just give me two Apple Fritters and end it.  We don’t have those.  Unbelievable.  All three of those are regulars in the lineup at Winchell’s, Yum Yum and St. Bede‘s 9AM mass, so either there’s a regional donut bias or Dunkin is just clueless.   Maybe I’ll try that Honey Dew Donuts on the MassPike.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to posting more random drivel.

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