Friday, April 10, 2009

Damn Yankees

Yesterday, my friend came over so we could go walk with our clan of respective children. (Or, more importantly, take them out of the house so that we could oh-my-god-make-the-screaming-stop.)

As we were walking, some guy in my neighborhood drove by and waved wholeheartedly. Like, grand smile, sustained eye contact, Mr. America wave, the whole nine.

My friend: Um, I think that guy thought I was someone else. Because he was just all [insert goofy smiling face here].

Me: He's probably just not from New York.

(Without giving you my address, I'll just say I live in an area with lots of out-of-towners.)

Which reminded me of a friendly debate my husband and I often fall into. Sure. Let's call 'em that. Friendly debates. He happens to be some sort of unclaimed hybrid of north western New York State and peachy-keen Georgia. Me? Hudson Valley through and through.

He points out the hostile tendencies of those who share our zip code, often when we're at a store or driving in the family car. Also, when I'm not being my friendliest or most patient, it's typically blamed on the Yankee in me. (My strategy is not to blame his faults on his birthplace, but on his inability to fully emulate my perfection. But whatever. A strategy's a strategy.)

So the problem with this debate, of course, is that I have no frame of reference beyond my little nook "upstate." (Yes, about an hour north of NYC. Let's not even get started with that one.) Are people really terrible drivers just in New York? Or, more specifically, do they not honk at you if you take more than .25 seconds to recognize that the light has turned green?

I've heard the standard "well, it's a different way of life!" routine, too. So don't sell me that garbage. I want real, live examples from all over the country.

...which kind of stalls this post as my readership is about, say a 50 mile radius of my house. But maybe we can pretend. That's fun, right?

By the way, to complement this post I did a Google search for a "Southern Belle" and guess what? IT FROZE MY COMPUTER. Coincidence? Unlikely.


  1. Speaking as an official out-of-towner, I have to say no, there is no such thing as a place without terrible drivers. Bad signals, weaving over the line, @#!$hole parking, cutting off... They exist everywhere, though Jersey is apparently where they have conventions and reunions.

    However, I can say that there is probably a marked level of ... let's call it "politeness" on a whim... in certain areas out of state. It's not a universal rule, and let's face it, you can find an armpit-of-America type neighborhood anywhere on the map. That said, I am drastically less likely in my area to (a) get horns blared at me for hesitating .25 seconds at a light, (b) have someone creeping onto my bumper and parking there in order to encourage me to right on red into heavy traffic, (c) encounter rude hand gestures for minor right of way misunderstandings, or (d) be shouted at so loudly and thoroughly that even though you can't hear through two rolled-up windows, traffic noise, and your blaring radio (or kids), you suddenly gain the ability to read lips with amazing accuracy, and quickly wish you had a blur spot censor to avoid comprehension.

    Oh, and of course, (e) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

  2. i firmly contend that connecticut is home to america's worst drivers. when was the last time you took a ride on good ol' I84 east of the hudson? 10 years ago? good for you, it's a nightmare out there. you should be wrapped in eternal warmth knowing that you are safe and sound here in ny.

  3. I like the fast-paced, harsh world of New York. I think other people do too. Everyone wants to check out New York, not too many people are rushing to Urinetown, MO.

  4. I happen to believe the entire tri-state area is full of the worst drivers on the Big G's green earth. I moved to NJ from Texas. In Texas people do wave at you. They let you in when you turn your turn signal on. They will sit through a green light and not honk their horns if you fail to move. They don't tailgate and they only honk to get your attention when they are waving. It is a different world.

  5. Rob: Precision example. And I find myself falling into that role (when the children are absent, naturally).

    Lana: I remember being stuck in CT once. Like, every turn we made, we were STILL in CT. It was a horror movie, really just without the cameras.

    B: People loathe NY. Lots of them. Even New Yorkers escape to B&Bs in Urinetown, MO every once in a while. Well, maybe LessGrossTown, MO.

    Beeker: We'll be moving to TX in a year or so. I'm not sure which emotion is greater. The disappointment that my husband is right AGAIN or the excitement of moving to a place that will feel like MARS.

  6. The traffic is worse, but in terms of proportion of drivers that are terrible, I'm afraid NYC is no worse than any other place in the country. I have prepared PowerPoint slides if you're interested in seeing the numbers.

  7. i only smile and wave if they are good looking. I think it's pretty much a constant for me in all 50 states. Keeps things fair.

  8. I like the fast-paced, harsh world of New York. I think other people do too. Everyone wants to check out New York, not too many people are rushing to Urinetown, MO.