Can they be called RI-holes?

Masshole is a well established term in these parts to describe any kind of aggressive or herky-jerky driving by someone in a car with Massachusetts license plates. I think it was coined in the north country, because I first heard it in Maine. But is there a similar term for people from Rhode Island who exhibit Masshole qualities? Can they be called RI-holes? It doesn't have the ring to it.

I have no love for Rhode Island drivers. Growing up in the south suburbs, I dodged my share of Little Rhody residents driving in ways that would make the most seasoned Masshole cringe. I have learned to give anyone with a wave on the license plate plenty of room. That rule was in place Wednesday as I was driving up Route 128 North.

Before my encounter with the Rhodyhole (still not quite right), I was tailgated by a Masshole in an Acura 3.5 TL, who had difficulty understanding that I could only go as fast as the car in front of me, and since the Acura driver was last in a line of about five cars, I wasn't about to give way. I write this as an aside, because I noticed something about the Acura driver's behavior that bears noting. As he was riding my bumper, he kept tilting his head back like a PEZ dispenser to check his rearview mirror. That is a classic tell of an impatient driver. It also reminds me of some great advice I got while learning to drive. Always position your mirror so you can see the road by moving only your eyes, not your head. Not only does it not telegraph your next move, but it also allows you to refocus on the road ahead with ease because you don't have to reposition your whole head.

Anyway, getting back to the Rhode Islander in the minivan. This guy had a car full of kids, and appeared to be on his way north to some kind of vacation spot. Being a Wednesday, I couldn't understand his particular rush. I picked him up in Burlington as we both sped past the Route 3 interchange. Again, I was in the left lane in a long line of cars and he was behind me, though more impatient than the Acura driver of earlier. The minivan moved over a lane and tried to get past the left lane traffic, but the center-left lane wasn't moving any better. He moved to the center-right lane, but was only able to get in front of the car slowing him down in the center-left lane. When he eventually made it back to the left lane, he was only about 300 yards and maybe five cars in front of me, and the lane still wasn't moving fast enough. He changed lanes again, and again, and again.

By the time we passed the Route 93 interchange, we were neck-and-neck again, even though I wasn't trying to race the guy, and I hadn't changed out of the left lane. He continued on this harey-carey movement all the way past Route 95 and onto the northern section of Route 128, which has got to be the most dangerous section of divided highway in the state. Then suddenly, his tailgating and frantic lane-changing stopped. He got into the right lane and slowed down. I couldn't tell because I passed him in the left lane, but I think he got off at the North Shore Mall in Peabody. Apart from the Lahey Clinic's branch there, I can't think of why anyone would be in such a rush to get to Peabody.

After leaving my Rhody friend behind, all I could think of was other advice a wiser driver gave me when I was first driving. He told me to pick a lane and stay in it when driving on the highway. If I felt I needed to go around, I should do it smartly and look at the traffic around me. He said to examine the holes and see if the openings would improve my ability to move, or would I just end up being boxed in. I learned from that advice that patience pays off because often the next move reveals itself to me. It may take a mile or so, but it comes, even if it means slowing down a bit to make another move.

And now for a bit of Zen: Moving through traffic is like playing checkers on a river current. The pieces float along with the current, and moves must be made with the current in mind or it could sink the whole game.

(If anyone is wondering where that Zen comes from, I made it up.)


Post a Comment