I'm going to begin this post with a joke. If you're from New England or familiar with the area, you'll probably (hopefully) find it hilarious. If you're not, well... just trust me, it's hilarious. If you ever find yourself in a room full of New Englanders and in need of a joke, pull this out of your pocket and you'll be the life of the party.
Four men were driving in a car, one from Maine, one from New Hampshire, one from Vermont, and one from Massachusetts. Part way through their trip, the man from Maine rolls down his window and begins to throw potatoes out of the car. The other men ask what he's was doing, and he says, "We have so many potatoes in Maine, I just want to get rid of some." The other men accept this answer, and they continue to drive along. A little while later, the man from Vermont rolls down his window and begins to throw out maple syrup. Again, the men ask what he's doing, and he says, "We have so much maple syrup in Vermont, I just want to get rid of some." The men nod and continue driving. Just a bit further down the road, the man from New Hampshire says, "We have so many of these in New Hampshire, I just want to get rid of some." Then he opens the door and shoves the man from Massachusetts out of the car.
HA! ba-dum chi!
As anyone from New Hampshire knows, people from Massachusetts are constantly coming over the border and invading our state. They clog our roads, take our parking spaces, mooch off our tax free shopping, and make our lives hell. Ok, perhaps it's not that dramatic or apocalyptic, but it can get annoying, especially in terms of driving. It's a common saying here in NH that people from Massachusetts are your friends, right up until they get into a car. They didn't earn the nickname "Massholes" for nothing. It's not really that they're bad drivers, it's that they're obnoxious. New Hampshire drivers are by no means perfect, but I always feel like I know what I'm getting when I see a NH plate. They're my jumping off point (could be because I'm one of them) for all other drivers.
Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Well, as I drive around New England on a relatively regular basis, most recently to Connecticut this past weekend, I can't help but notice, judge, and curse the other drivers I encounter. This is by no means a new hobby for me, either. When you live in a region with such small states, it's impossible to drive for an extended period of time and not cross state lines (unlike in California, for example, where you can drive for two hours and still be in Los Angeles). Therefore, we New Englanders are very familiar with the driving "styles" shall we say of various states' residents. We're also used to seeing a number of different license plates, so FYI, if you play the License Plate Game with us, prepare to lose. Anyway, over the years I've figured out the little tics of each state's drivers. It's gotten to the point now where I can identify cars by their driving styles before even seeing their license plate. So here's a handy little list of what - and who - to look out for when you're on the roads here in New England.
And if you're starting to think this whole post will be a bit hostile and acerbic, well, you're right. I wrote this with a fair amount of road rage still coursing through my veins, so it's not the most diplomatic thing you'll ever read. However, in my defense, I've seen drivers from MA put "Masshole" bumper stickers on their cars, so rest assured they're in on the joke. Also, some of my best friends are from the states I attack below, so I'm not a complete snob, I swear. Why don't we all just take a pinch of salt and keep going, shall we?
*New Hampshire - "The Baseline" - Yes I'm biased. I always try to give my fellow New Hampshirites the benefit of the doubt, but I really think we're pretty good out on the road. I never feel like a NH driver will cut me off or do anything stupid. I know what I'm going to get with them, and they never do anything I wouldn't do myself, whether that's good or bad is still up for debate. I in no way claim to be perfect.
*Massachusetts - "The Obnoxious" - As previously mentioned, when you see that dreaded blue and red lettering, watch out. Massholes will cut you off, tailgate, speed, veer through traffic, whatever they can to get where they're going just a millisecond faster than anyone else on the road. I was once told not to use my blinker in MA because then the other drivers would know what I was thinking and exploit it. I mean really? Massholes aren't necessarily dangerous, but they're definitely deserving of an eye roll and grown of frustration. I mean, seriously guys, calm down. You'll get there. But congrats on placing in the top 10 Worst Drivers in the USA year after year!
*Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island - "The Rest" - As New England drivers go, these guys are the least prevalent and least stereotyped (much like the states themselves, no?). We see them on the road, we pass them, and then we forget them. In the game of Mario Kart that is driving, these are the banana peels you avoid while trying to keep up with the rest of the field. Sorry, guys.
*New York - "The Ego" - New York is not a part of New England (thank gosh), but given it's close proximity, we see its drivers on the road all the time. New York drivers make moves much like the Massholes, but it's not so much obnoxious as it is egotistical. New Yorkers drive like they're the only ones on the road. You know that car in the fast lane going 55mph with 12 angry cars up its rear waiting to pass? Yeah, nine times out of ten, that car is from New York. And if the car got its plates updated within the last two years or so, you'll be forced look at the ugliest shade of yellow known to man as you plug along behind it. If there was one group of drivers I'd like to be more self-aware, it'd be those from New York. Let's agree to use the travel lane and not hog the road shall we, fellas?
*New Jersey - "The Sleepers" - Ah, Jersey. What are we ever going to do with you? Sometimes I think it'd be easier if New York just annexed you and got it over with, that way you could stop trying to be "cool" like them. I don't even have a lot to say about Jersey drivers. They're sort of like toned down versions of New Yorkers and Massholes. But while their actions are annoying, I have to give them points for at least putting some thought behind them. Jersey on the other hand, well they're just dumb. Blunt I know, but there's no other way to put it. It's like they're asleep at the wheel. Just today a New Jersey driver tried to come into my lane... while I was still in it. Not sure if you know this, Jersey, but we can't both occupy the same space at the same time. I'm also pretty sure New Jersey drivers are allergic to cruise control. Fast or slow, you gotta pick one.
*Connecticut - "The Worst" - Don't worry, I didn't forget you, Connecticut. No, I saved a special place for you on the list: right at the bottom, where you belong. If you took the ego of the New York driver, added it to the obnoxious nature of the Masshole, and then subtracted any sort of rational thought, you would get the Connecticut driver. They are their own breed. I struggle to make any sense of their actions behind the wheel and shudder when I see that fade of blue. Connecticut drivers have yet to master the concept of merging, and given that half the state seems to constantly be under construction, this makes sharing the road a treacherous experience. Always be sure to give these guys a wide berth, you never can tell what they'll do. Most recently I witnessed them stopping in the EZ Pass lane at the tolls. I don't care what the excuse is, there is no reason to ever, EVER to stop in fast pass lane. It's just asking for an accident. Frankly I'm surprised there wasn't a 17 car pile up. I have faith you'll get it together one day, Connecticut... but then again, maybe not.
And there you have it, my not-so-nice opinion of the other drivers on the road. Does anyone share my complete lack of surprise that NY, NJ, CT, and MA are always in the top 10 on the "worst drivers" list that comes out every year? Does anyone else have experience with drivers from these states? Do you think my assessment was fair? What about other states? And why the heck are people still using cash at the tolls?