Which way do we go, Marge?

I'm tired of being behind people who don't know where they are going. It's easy to spot them. They're either driving really slow to look at the address numbers or street signs. Or, my personal favorite, they get to a green light and stop because they don't want to make a wrong turn. This usually causes me to jam on my brakes because I, like most drivers with common sense, expect traffic to move while the light is green.

What's more, I hate to be behind drivers who don't know where they are going, but they happen to be going the same place I am. I wish I had a PA system in my car so I could scream, "Pull over dammit and follow me!"

Most recently I was behind a minivan (I have particular thoughts about minivan drivers that are appropriate for another post), and the driver was going along as if he were feeling his way. He stopped at the green light at Route 60 and the fellow's near Haynes Square in Medford. Then he went straight. He inched through Haynes Square heading towards Route 93. He proceeded to randomly slow down and nearly stop to look at side streets to see if any of these were his turn. After a few instances, I got the picture and gave this guy a lot of car lengths, but that didn't set well with the guy behind me. I caught up with him at the rotary under Route 93, where he stopped in the rotary to let incoming traffic pass and eventually circled out of my sight.

This is just one example of the countless times I have been behind someone who is so caught up in how to get somewhere, that the person doesn't realize there are others waiting to get somewhere else. I try to sympathize by not using my horn because, as the saying goes, "there, but for the grace of God, go I," meaning I might be lost and need to find my way somewhere. But I get frustrated at the blatant carelessness for the other drivers on the road that these lost ones have, and sometimes I just have to let horn fly. Usually it's a friendly toot to arouse them from their somnambulent state, but sometimes I need to repeat as necessary until the get the picture. I never gun it past someone with my horn blowing in utter disgust and rage, though.

With these experiences in mind, I try to be considerate of other drivers when I am lost or looking for someplace. Usually I will start my trip by getting a map from the often dreadful Mapquest. Luckily my knowledge of the main roads of Eastern Mass. will help me to avoid Mapquest's sometimes peculiar routes. If, however, I am still lost or unsure as I am driving, I don't hesitate to pull over in a legal and safe manner to a part of the road that will allow others to pass as unimpeded as possible. I don't jam on my brakes.

If I need to turn around, I don't bang a Uey. I drive along a little further and make a legal left onto a road, and I don't scoop out the end of the road.

I usually won't ask for directions, mainly because I find people cannot give directions.

"Go down and go through three lights. No. Two lights. Then take a right. You'll see a gas station. Oh wait. That's an ice cream place now, but it closed. Well, just keep going on that road until you see a Dunkin' Donuts. Turn left there..."

You get the picture. Telling me to look for a Dunkin' Donuts? Please. That's like telling me to turn at a tree.

However, I buck the stereotype that men don't ask for directions. But instead of rolling up and screaming out of my window. I pull into a place, park in a legal spot, get out of my car, properly address a person and ask politely for directions. Why? Because I've been on the receiving end of some guy leaning out of driver's side of a lime-green Saturn saying, "Hey, can you tell me where High Street is?"

"Yeah, pal, you're on it."

Speaking of which, another reason I have sympathy for people who don't know where they are going is because of our poorly marked roads. I'm not talking about the highways, which carry two or three route numbers heading in opposite directions at the same time. I'm talking about surface streets, and if there's a sign at all it's small and hard to read, especially at night.

Some towns have started to correct this by purchasing large, high-contrast, reflective signs that mark streets well, but the majority of our roads are unmarked. Some of the roads have only a couple signs indicating their name from beginning to end. It's like the sign people decided only the people who get on at or pass certain intersections deserve to know which road they're on. That's Boston for ya.


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