Monday, July 13, 2009

Special Guest Motorist: Aaron!

"As for my own driving experiences in Rhode Island, I'd like to explain an exasperating phenomenon that I first became familiar with when I started at Providence College in '94. It was one of my first indicators that RI drivers were cut from a crooked cloth. My college friends and I called it the Rhode Island Block.

It occurs in situations when a driver is positioned at a stop sign and he/she wants to make a turn onto a main road. There are no stop signs for traffic on the road that the driver wants to turn onto, but the Blocker acts as though there are. The Block may manifest itself as an insidious creeping into oncoming traffic; it may take more extreme forms where the driver positions his or her car across a full lane of traffic in order to better facilitate a left turn. It nearly always disrupts the flow of traffic on the main road.

At first it seemed to me a kamikaze move, or else a remarkable leap of faith. This driver trusts that the traffic he/she is pulling into will slow down or even stop? But then I caught on. The Blocker knows that the other drivers have no choice but to yield. Beep the horn at him, give him the finger, and call him every name in the book, but you better also stop, because to not stop would be to wreck your own car. It's the ultimate move of mototerrorism. I still encounter it to this day."

Thanks for the message, Aaron. I couldn't agree more. The Rhode Island Block (or "R.I. Cock Block," as I and the wife like to call it) is the ultimate dick move. It exemplifies the classic, narcissistic, I-come-first, you-don't-matter, R.I. motoring mentality. Of course, we rule-abiding, R.I. motorists can't go around t-boning the R.I. C-Blockers, as our insurance premiums would skyrocket (oh yeah, we also don't want to intentionally injure anyone), but we can go slightly beyond the requisite horn-honking, name-calling and flipping of the bird. Here's my counter to the R.I. C-Block: 

1. Make sure your car is in tip-top condition, and the weather is fair. 

2. Make sure you're not driving more than 25 miles per hour. 

3. Approach the R.I. C-blocker at speed. At 30 meters, apply the horn. At 20 meters, apply the brakes . . . hard. Arrive at a stop 5 meters from the R.I. C-blocker, note his/her befuddled expression, and just stare at him/her. Stare at him/her as he/she makes his/her stupid left turn in front of you. Shake your head slightly as he/she goes by. If he/she gives you any guff, just smile sarcastically, nod, and progress forward with the satisfaction of knowing that you're the one wearing clean underpants.*

*Cleanliness of underpants may vary.  

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekend Capitalism: Buy a T-shirt; Learn a Secret

Now, for a limited time only, when you buy a "Road Rager" T-shirt, or any item, on the Rhode Rage Merch Page, I will send you an email message containing directions to "the best place to park in the Providence Place Mall parking garage." It's an easy-in, easy-out, little-known nugget.*

Don't like anything on the Merch Page? Send me your design ideas. If they sell, we'll split the profits 50/50.

*Parking space availability not guaranteed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meredith Vieira: Game Show Host

I realized today after a bit of thinking that I don't loathe Meredith Vieira. Last night, after watching her appearance on Conan from two nights ago, I loathed her, but I'm more ambivalent today. I don't loathe her, but I do loathe the fact that she plays the role of a journalist on Today. And, of course, I loathe Today. I have been boycotting it since earlier this year, as it has become less of a news show, and more of a pop show. Where else can you get the, "I'm sorry, we're out of time," card played after 2 minutes of a health care reform debate, and then get 10 uninterrupted minutes of Miss California talking about her pseudo-persecution drama? Oooh, you got stripped of your rhinestone crown due to an "unfounded" breach of contract? How awful! Go convince a 92-year-old billionaire to buy you a pony, and get over it.

What does this have to do with Rhode Island and my rage? Well, Meredith Vieira is from Lincoln, right next door to my present home town, and she tends to enrage me with her pseudo-journalistic nonsense.

How can anyone take Meredith Vieira seriously as a journalist while she continues to host the daytime edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It's completely incongruous. It's like finding out that Woodward and Bernstein also wrote Beetle Bailey on the comics page. Did Edward R. Murrow moonlight as host of Family Feud (not that it existed in his time)? Now that might have been interesting. "One hundred people were surveyed, and the top four answers are concealed on the board. Here's the question: Beside communists, name an interest group that mature Americans can engage in conversation and controversy, the clash of ideas, with anywhere in the world without becoming contaminated or converted."

Back to you, Meredith. My problem with her is that she doesn't strike me as a very intelligent individual, yet she is second chair on a show that somehow continues to take itself seriously as a news program. Sure, she's affable; attractive even. It's easy to see how she has climbed the rungs of the talking head ladder. But a Susan Schmidt, she is not. She is not even a Katie Couric. The only scoop Meredith will break is an ice cream scoop during another insufferable Today "Summertime Food" segment.

So stop pretending, Meredith. Leave the journalism to the highly critical, and stick with the fluff. Stick with Millionaire.

A minor but necessary point on communication: When being interviewed, always cross your leg toward the interviewer, not away from the interviewer. It is an inclusive gesture to, if the interviewer is on your left, cross your right leg over your left toward the interviewer. On Conan the other night, Meredith crossed her left leg over her right, away from Conan, during the interview despite otherwise seeming as though she really wanted to make out with him. Talk about mixed signals; no wonder she hosts both a "news" show and a game show.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Your Turn. Be Sure to Signal.

Well, Rhode Rage is two weeks old now, and I want to hear from you! It's time to compile a mailbag. What are your Rhode Island motoring horror stories? What are your non-motoring, Rhode Island horror stories? Lay 'em on me, (wo)man. Email me at the link to the right, or here, at

Thanks for all the encouraging feedback. I look forward to hearing from you!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"I Want to Sell YOU a Cah"

There is a strictly enforced law in our great State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations* that states that, if you own a furniture store, law firm, or car dealership, you must conceive, write, and star in all television advertisements promoting said business. Local, upstanding role models include Abrams & Verri Attorneys at Law, Mike Grieco of Metro Honda, and the Cardi Brothers of Cardi's Furniture Superstores.

Balise Toyota, your days are numbered. You think you can flaunt your anonymous, articulate announcer & professionally-designed, animated logo and get away with it? Please don't make me laugh. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations' finest are concocting a sting operation that will make "Operation Plunderdome" look like a hall monitor citation. You're going down, and going down hard.

Maybe, MAYBE, Mr. Balise, if you were to immediately enroll in the Ed Tarbox School of Broadcasting, cast yourself & and a young relative in a brand new ad, and get the ad on the air within 24 hours ("That's the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations way!" as Sean Connery might say in The Unbroadcastables), the State could let you off with just a warning. But if they ever catch you running a tasteful TV commercial again, they're going to unleash the street justice of the Cardi brothers on your ass, who will promptly knock you out and Ni-Ro-Pe(e) on your face. Consider yourself warned.

*Yes, this is Rhode Island's official name. We love bad ads, bad driving, and, above all, wasting ink.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"You Didn't Have To Be So Nice"

We all make mistakes. We all get into binds every now and then. We've all stalled at a stop sign during our first time driving a standard. We've all counted on the kindness of strangers. Yes, there is plenty of room to be forgiving on the road. We can all let the guy with a flat tire cross over to the breakdown lane. We can all give the elderly an extra 20 seconds to cross the street. There are times and places to be gentle motorists . . .

. . . and there are times and places to indulge in one's right of way.

Picture this: I am stopped on a secondary road at a "T" intersection of a primary road, and am signaling to make a left turn onto the primary road. A vehicle approaches from my right with its left turn signal flashing. It intends to turn onto the road I am presently stopped on. There is no stop sign or signal on the primary road. Who must yield the right of way? Obviously, I must. Instead of making the turn, though, the driver of the car on the primary road (let's call her Beatrice) stops and waves for me to make my turn first. "Uhhhhhhnnn," I growl, and the conundrum begins.

I shake my head, and wave for Beatrice to make her turn, but she persists, having just had a manicure, pedicure and facial; cranking "Walking on Sunshine" on 92 Pro FM. Hmmmmph. There will be no arguing with Beatrice, that laser beam of stonewall generosity. She waves back at me, more enthusiastically this time. I am Randy from A Christmas Story responding to my mother's prompts for me to eat (pre-piggy trick). I am as reluctant as a banker at a Phish concert.

Regardless, I clear my mucus membranes and look to the left. Oh, a car. It goes by. I inch out. (Remember, both I and Beatrice are planning left turns.) I look to my right. It's clear. I start forward then stop, as the rightly impatient driver behind Beatrice passes her to her right. Now I'm stuck in the primary road, and, you guessed it, here comes another car from my left. The driver of that car is pissed at me. I'm pissed at Beatrice. I'm pissed at myself for giving in to Beatrice's positive, yet increasingly impatient, vibes. My car, Rusty, is pissed at me for almost getting us clipped. It's a classic motoring clusterf-.

Everything eventually works out, but everyone feels a bit nauseated for the remainder of his/her drive. Yes, Beatrice too. "Walking on Sunshine" has become saccharin and salty. The moral of the story is this: Nobody likes a Beatrice, so don't name your daughter that.


The moral is this: Right-of-way rules are made so that you don't have to be nice. Just drive, and take that advantage of those yielding to your right of way. You'll be on the giving end soon enough. There's always another intersection down the street, so be nice and don't be nice.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pedestrian Pedestrians and The Vicious Cycle of Cyclists

Good 4th of July weekend? Hands and digits intact? Welcome back to work. Now get to earning back that hundred bucks you smoked on just-loud-enough-to-annoy-and-not-inspire-the-neighbors, discount fireworks that you shot off at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 5th, when everyone was trying to ease out of the weekend on the couch with a decent movie. And on a(n) (un)related note, why are fireworks legal in most states, but psychedelic mushrooms are illegal across the board in all states? What's a more dangerous recreational activity? Gathering 50 people around a coffee can and launching explosive projectiles out of it? Or, eating a few caps, kicking back on the recliner, firing up some Kevin Mahogany through the headphones, and watching the ceiling fan dance for a few hours? 

The longer you run backwards, the more time you spend convincing yourself that you're making progress. 

That's really why I write this blog: to perhaps aid in slowing down the runaway machine of American illogic, irresponsibility, and ignorance. If I can get Rhode Island motorists to shape up and change their ways, then anything is possible (as if the 2004 Red Sox and the election of Barack Obama didn't prove that already). Maybe things are getting better, and I should lighten up . . . but then if I did that, I wouldn't be writing this post, and filling a temporary void for you, my loyal readers. 

So, critical by nature, I present yet another glorious nugget published in the Rhode Island Driver's Manual. On page 48, under section C, in the second bulleted list, in the third bullet, see the second sentence. I love this. This is vindication in a bottle. Sugar from Survivor says, "Get ready for the funkiest night of your life. Wait for it. Wait for it . . :"

"• If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the road facing traffic."

Now light that coffee can and launch the rest of your fireworks, neighbor. 

There it is, in black and white. There will be no more shock when I blare my horn at you, your dog and your walking buddy as you hog my lane, conversing care-freely with your backs to my approaching car. WALK FACING TRAFFIC. This will allow you more time to not only dive into the woods as approaching garbage trucks barrel toward you, but more time to get into a single file with your dog and your walking buddy as I barrel toward you (more like soda can toward you).

Wow, page 48 of The Manual is a dense page! Your turn, bicyclists (unicyclists, you're off the hook, so, by all means, die juggling):

"Bicycle riders are given the same rights and must obey the same laws as drivers of motor vehicles. In addition, they should follow these rules:

• Bicycle riders should ride as close to the right of the road as they can do safely."

In other words, while riding a bike, pretend you're driving a very slow car, ride WITH traffic on the far right of the right lane, and ride as motor vehicles normally travel. Do drivers of motor vehicles normally drive on sidewalks? Well, maybe in Rhode Island, but hopefully only while failing a driving test, as Page 9 points out: 

"The following are reasons for immediate failure of a driving test:

• Leaving the designated roadway (driving on the sidewalk . . . "

So don't ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, people like the kid I yelled at on Thayer Street on Saturday! If you're scared to ride your bicycle on a busy street in Rhode Island (as I am, for if you haven't guessed, I don't trust R.I. drivers), then WALK! 

Back to Page 48, Section E.:

"• No more than two (2) bicycles may ride side by side."

Now this DOES NOT mean that you SHOULD ALWAYS ride side by side. It means that if you have keen cycling skills, and keen senses, you "MAY" ride alongside your biking buddy at times. You should infer that, should a vehicle approach from behind, you and your biking buddy should change your formation to single file, especially if a garbage truck is approaching from the opposite direction at the same time. You know what? Just always ride as if garbage trucks are simultaneously approaching you from opposite directions, and you won't hear me yelling at you as I pass by. 

Enjoy the peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In a Hurry to Go Nowhere

Listen, I know you've been sucking the Dunkin' teat for 5 hours of caffeinated high time, but take a deep breath and look forward beyond the next 2 seconds of your life next time you're stopped & about to turn onto a new road.

If you pull out in front of me, and force me to brake, then you didn't have a gap large enough to accommodate a safe turn onto the new road. So now you have me tailgating your ass and shouting obscenities at you. And now, you're driving all sketchily because you're freaked out and hopped up with a crazy person behind you. How could this have been avoided?

Well, since behind me was a clear 1/2 mile of empty road and not a vehicle to speak of, perhaps you could have just taken an extra second and looked at the next gap instead of gunning out in front of me and forcing me to brake. But, no, you really needed to get to Wal-Mart for the big bottled water sale, so you could quench your hyper-caffeinated cotton mouth. So now you have a crazy person behind you, and, oh, what's that ahead? An f-ing red light! Well done! Glad you could get right out in front of me and beat me to that stop light! What a sense of urgency you have! You should be Tom Brady's backup. No, Tom Brady should be YOUR backup, because clearly you are on the ball and locked into the moment.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm hyper-caffeinated too. Cheers, and happy 4th. Now go "celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Right Lane Passing Clarification ... From The Twilight Zone

I know I've covered the topic of slow people (literally and figuratively) driving in the left lane of an interstate freeway, but I haven't yet written about another Rhode Island staple: passing a vehicle on the right on an interstate freeway. On most trips up and down I-95 or I-295 in Rhode Island, I suddenly find myself in a parallel universe: a universe in which turn signals don't exist; a universe in which the norm is to pass vehicles on the right (despite plenty of space to do so on the left). In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I don't care for that parallel universe called "The Rhode Island Motoring Experience," and in case you're shouting "Then move out of state already you elitist a-hole!" please go ahead and establish the Relocate Johnny Fund. As soon as you raise 100 grand (not the delicious candy bar, but I'll take one of those), send it on over, and the wife and I will call in the Gentle Giant and truck our butts to Boise. For now, though, let's get back to that Rhode Island Driver's Manual.

On page 23, find item "J. Passing Another Vehicle":

"• Passing a vehicle on the left:

On multiple lane highways, the law requires you to use the left lane to pass and the right lane for normal driving."

'Nuff said?

"But, Johnny, you're only doing half the job. You need to floss too, every day. Er, I mean, what about the next section: Passing a vehicle on the right?"

"Gosh, mister, my teeth feel cleaner!" I say. Er, uh, yeah let's talk about that next section (at the top of page 24).

"A driver may pass on the right of another vehicle only as follows:

1. When the motor vehicle ahead is making or about to make a left turn.

2. On a street or highway that is wide enough for two or more lanes of traffic with no obstructions and not occupied by parked vehicles.

3. On a one-way street or roadway wide enough for two or more lanes of traffic and free of obstructions or parked vehicles."

Finally! Some good ol' fashioned Rhode Island legal ambiguity!

Please debate this in the comments section, but I read the section to mean that condition 1 MUST be met as a basis for any pass on the right. Beyond the necessary motor vehicle ahead that is making or about to make a left turn, you MUST have enough room to the right of said vehicle to safely fit. I.E., You must be able to realistically imagine (there's a wonderful oxymoron), or should I say "conservatively imagine," a lane wide enough to accommodate your vehicle's passing of the car making the left turn. Furthermore, you can't use your imagination to rid reality of that huge f-ing orange pylon (A.K.A. "Snirk" or "Snoil" in my family), baby carriage, or broken-down Hummer that blocks your path past the car making the left turn. Condition 3 is redundant to condition 2, so just ignore it.

Although technically arguable, condition 2 does not intend to give you permission to pass cars on the right on a multiple-lane road, highway, or freeway, as Section J already told you not to do so. Let's compromise with this: It's ok to pass left lane travellers on the right ONLY after giving those travellers reasonable time to move over to the right and allow you to pass properly on the left. Let them know you're behind them. Give them a headlight flash, and wait 3 seconds. Make sure they're not in the process of passing. All I ask is that you at least encourage people to drive correctly before you yourself bend the rules. Be an activist driver, and, above all, DON'T WEAVE RECKLESSLY BETWEEN VEHICLES. You're not impressing anyone, douche nozzle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Other Parking Lot Debacles

Given: All contracts for parking lot design in Rhode Island are given to the children of local, well-connected gentlemen who think their sons and daughters are the next Frederick Law Olmsted, or Guo Pu, just because those sons and daughters can navigate through the complex scenery of Grand Theft Auto. "Yeah, Mr. Mayor, Rocco Jr. here has a real knack for transportation. I'll give you $50,000 for your reelection campaign if you give my company the contract to build Rocco Jr.'s design for the Smithfield Commons parking lot. Just look at the wonderful work he did on devising the traffic patterns in the Providence Place Mall parking garage."

For those loyal readers outside of Rhode Island, go ahead and infer that those two parking scenarios are the biggest clusterf-s in a state notorious for transportation clusterf-s.

Yes, the baseline is very low for an ideal parking lot experience in Rhode Island, so please salvage what you can. For starters, please don't travel THROUGH open parking spaces like you're in a g-damn demolition derby. Stick to the traveling lanes while navigating to your desired parking spot. I can't tell you how many times I've nearly been clipped by drivers cutting across rows of parking spaces on their way to a spot.

Second, when leaving a spot, go ahead and pretend that you're on a two-way street. Back out far enough so you can drive past me on my left. This isn't merry ol' England. We don't have nationalized health care that will take great care of me after you ram into me head-on. I'm not given a month of paid recovery time, so just pretend that you're on a regular road when driving down parking lanes, and I won't have to burden my crappy health insurance company with claims inflicted by your stupid, limey-wannabe ass.

Third, there is a time and a place to stop and hover in anticipation of a departing shopper's parking space, and that time and place is NOT on the one-way, up-ramp of a busy parking garage when 50 cars are behind you at Christmas time. Just keep going. That space will go to the lucky person who's approaching AS the departing shopper starts to back out of his/her space. While you sit there for 3 minutes as the departing shopper opens her trunk, puts her bags away, straps the lad into the car seat, and adjusts her bra, you could have parked in an equally decent space somewhere upward. Beyond that, you wouldn't have infuriated the 50 (and counting) drivers behind you. Let's agree on this rule: while traveling upward on a one-way ramp in a busy parking garage, a departing shopper's space goes to the upward traveller who arrives at the space as the departing shopper starts to back out of his/her space.

Finally, if for some reason you can't take the extra 20 seconds out of your life to push your empty cart into the parking lot's empty cart repository, or if there is no empty cart repository, then park your empty cart in the following manner: place it PARALLEL to your car directly on top of the four-corner cross of the adjacent parking spaces. Then, after placing it, wait 3 seconds to make sure that it does not roll out of that position. Do not place it haphazardly in the middle of the empty parking space next to you. In fact, if you can't place it parallel to your car directly on top of the four-corner cross of the adjacent parking spaces, then burn off some of that Big Mac and return the cart to the front of the store.

Your non-nepotistic, conscientious fellow motorists thank you in advance.

Oh, and one more thing. Why on Earth did the state and/or city of Smithfield and/or Rocco Sr. pay to have the Route 44 East exit ramp off 295 Southbound pulled back one hundred lousy feet? It did not make the intersection at the entrance of Smithfield Commons any easier. You still have through-drivers crossing desperately to get to the left lane on 44, and you still have shoppers crossing madly into the right lane to get to the Commons. They should have constructed an on/off ramp that would have flowed traffic directly between 295 and the parking lot – bypassing 44 completely. "I think the audience would agree with me on that one."

I hope, as it is the state motto.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'll Take Another Half-baked, R.I. Parking Lot Idea, and a Coke, Please

Here's a new and idiotic phenomenon that only a Rhode Islander would dare conceive: the two-lane drive-thru (at the Lincoln Mall McDonald's). I'm not talking about the efficient, "both-sides-of-the-building-have-independent-drive-thru-windows" drive-thru, I'm talking about the cluster-f, "both-lanes-end-up-at-the-same-window-after-placing-orders-at-two-separate-intercoms" drive-thru.

What is the point? As both lanes converge at the same window, the McD's is going to end up servicing the same number of people that it would have serviced using one lane. The second lane only adds confusion, frustration, and the possibility of incident to the drive-thru equation. Of course, there's the argument: "But the McDonald's would be able to process twice as many orders." Bullshit.

Let's say McDonald's WAS able to process twice as many orders. Those orders would just end up bottlenecked at the window, as you would have two orders ready for every one car at the window. Moreover, if one gargantuan, complex, "I-have-four-morbidly-obese-teenagers-in-the-back-of-my-minivan" order preceded four easy "fries-and-a-Coke" orders, you'd have a backlog of lower-quality, soggy fries and watered-down Cokes. Then, you would have lower customer satisfaction, then you would have less business, then you would have to dismantle and sell off your expensive, second drive-thru intercom. It's a hideous, downward business spiral, but I haven't mentioned the worst part yet: the inevitable injustice of assigning car priority at the order intercoms.

True story: I stopped at the aforementioned McDonald's 10 days ago. As I turned the corner at the rear of the building, I noticed the new, dual-drive-thru-lanes scheme. Seeing a motorist backing out of the outside lane and stopping to talk on his cell phone, I opted for the inside lane. A motorist was already at the inside intercom placing his order. The outside lane remained empty. The motorist in front of me (let's call him Gil), finished placing his order, but could not pull forward, as a car was in front of him. The outside lane remained empty. The car in front of Gil pulled forward, but Gil, probably a green light sloth, sat there adjusting his crotch for 3 seconds, allowing just enough time for a car to pull up to the outside lane intercom (this was not the original, cell phone car). While I was shouting obscenities at Gil, Gil finally got his junk in order and pulled forward. I arrived at the inside lane intercom, and got a "just a moment please" from the speaker. I turned to my right and saw the guy at the outside lane intercom finish his order & start to pull forward to a position behind Gil.

Ready to go off like a neutron bomb, I instantly boycotted the McDonald's, threw Rusty (my car) into reverse, and sped off to the adjacent Stop & Shop for muffins. You lose, McDonald's. You might as well put that outside intercom on Craigslist now, 'cause Stop & Shop makes a mean Raisin Bran muffin.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Incomplete Guide to Complete Stops

Here's what the (gulp) Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles Driver's Manual says regarding four-way stops:

Follow these procedures when at an intersection with a four-way stop:

• Once stopped, you must yield to all other vehicles that were stopped prior to your arrival at the stop sign.

• Once having stopped, all other vehicles arriving at the intersection after you must yield the right of way to you.

• If two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, you must yield the right of way to the vehicle on your right.

• As always, being courteous and respectful will help prevent dangerous situations and make the roadways safer for all drivers.

(Whew!) That was surprisingly concise and precise. Of course, to paraphrase Seinfeld: You know how to read the procedures, you just don't know how to follow the procedures. And that's really the most important part of the procedures: the following. Anybody can just read 'em. 

What's sad is that you DON'T read the procedures, Rhode Islanders, for if you READ the procedures, you would know that in order to expedite your trip, you wouldn't race through a four-way stop, you would race to the four-way stop. And by "race to," I don't mean you should speed up to the intersection and stop short, I mean that you should strive to be the first vehicle to come to a complete stop (yes, at your stop line) at the intersection. Then, the world would be your oyster, especially if someone then fails to yield to you, crashes into you, and gives you a mild concussion that prevents you from getting to the big meeting, at which you would have closed the Johnson account and made the company 4.6 million dollars. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Positive, One Week Anniversary Nugget

One great thing about living in Rhode Island is this: You seldom find yourself more than 10 minutes away from any needed service. Furthermore, if heaven is having options at hand, then consider yourself a saint if you live between Warwick and Woonsocket. I frequent 4 grocery stores, 2 movie theaters, 2 Targets, and 4.6 million or so Dunkin' Donuts locations. There. Now increase, property values, so I can sell my condo and get the f- out of here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Johnny "and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad" Drivers

Keith Olbermann has his "Worst Person in the World," I have my "Worst Drivers on the Road." Who are they? They are the perpetrators of the most infamous road annoyance of all. They are the dreaded Green Light Sloths.

If I don't notice you at all, you are a most likely a good driver. If you don't obstruct me, and don't waste my & other motorists' time, you are most likely a good driver. The green light sloths immediately fail those two litmus tests. Picture this: You are in a long line of vehicles at a left turn stop light. You know that when the light turns green, you are going to have a very limited time to get through the intersection. The light turns green, and the person at the front of the line remains stopped for three seconds. What could this person possibly be doing? If it's a man, perhaps he's adjusting his sack. Now that's fine, just NOT WHEN YOU'RE FIRST IN LINE AT A STOP LIGHT WITH A LINE OF VEHICLES BEHIND YOU. YOU HAVE ONE JOB: GET THROUGH THE INTERSECTION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, SO THE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU CAN DO THE SAME. The person in front has gotten everyone's attention. Strike one. He/She has decreased the chances of the motorists behind him/her making the light, and wasted their time. Strike two. He/She doesn't get a third strike, because he/she sucks.

AS IF THAT WASN'T BAD ENOUGH: The person in front has finally gotten his junk in working order, and has progressed through the intersection, but the person second in line thinks that he/she is going 70 on the highway, and creates a 3 second gap between him/herself and the first person. YOU'RE GOING 2 MILES PER HOUR, YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAINTAIN A LARGE GAP. This is the one time that we will all encourage you to tailgate, but you have failed, and you are as bad a green light sloth as the first person.

In summary, I think you get the idea. Just go on green. You have the power to improve the lives of so many stuck behind your lackadaisical ass. Just watch the light, and go on green. Thank you in advance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forward to the Landfill in Reverse!

The frustration never ends on Rhode Island roads. Without fail, the ignorami (Don't mess with me, automatic spelling checker, that's a word) come out of the woods to somehow thwart my morning commute. This morning, they came out within a half-mile of my home in the form of a garbage truck. 

There I was, driving westbound on a two-lane, back road, approaching a garbage truck that was stopped; facing me in the eastbound lane. As I approached, the garbage truck started to roll, not forward toward me as any sane person might progress on a two-lane, back road, BUT BACKWARD, AWAY FROM ME. So now both lanes of traffic on this narrow, two-lane, back road, are heading westbound: one in the usual headlights-first, forward manner; the other in the highly unorthodox, taillights-first, please-crash-into-me-so-I-can-crush-you-in-my-compactor, backward manner. 

Onward we dominated the road for a solid quarter-mile. All the while, I stayed 50 feet in front of (or should I say behind? "I'm just a caveman, your honor. Your world frightens and confuses me.") the garbage truck, staring at the driver and mouthing phrases fit for "The Old Man" in A Christmas Story. 

Finally, and thankfully without incident (beyond the ludicrous situation itself), the garbage truck stopped and embarked on a more conventional, forward quest down a new road by taking a standard, right hand turn. I continued to stare bemusedly at the driver as I passed him. He returned my look and gave me a "What's the problem?" expression. I shook my head and continued on to work. 

"What's the problem?"

THAT's the problem. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Inklings of Destiny?

A year ago, my wife and I were talking about places to which we might like to move. We tossed around the notions of North Carolina, Virginia and Vermont. Essentially, we wanted to find a place where we could afford a good-sized plot of land for the dog; somewhere that was developed, but also had breathtaking natural settings close by . . . and, of course, somewhere with better drivers and less pride in mediocrity: the anti-Rhode Island, if you will. All those afore-mentioned states seemed like viable alternatives, but there was one other place that I couldn't help but feel drawn to explore: Boise, Idaho. Why?

Well, a state capital city must have at least one decent restaurant and movie theater. It's near the Rocky Mountains, so it must have some decent hiking trails. Land must be rather inexpensive, because whom the hell do you know who has moved to Boise? And, it might not be so developed that I couldn't successfully open my dream business of a coffee & t-shirt store.

Nary did I know that there was something else about Idaho that was the biggest deal maker of all. Nary did I know until just this morning, in doing some research for today's posting (which was supposed to be about car spacing through traffic lights) that my wife and I might just be cosmically linked to a future in Idaho. What is this factoid that has me fantasizing of calling the moving company this week? Here you go.

In all fairness, Rhode Island has improved (formerly, annually ranked last), but still very much sucks. And New York, don't think I haven't noticed your position. I'll get to you in due time, you slow-passing, blind spot lingerers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stay Wide, Ponyboy, Stay Wide

Visualize this situation that tends to ruin the last leg of my morning commute. I'm at a stop light in the left lane of two left turn lanes. To my right, in the right lane of the two left turn lanes, is Mr. I-commute-to-my-desk-job-in-a-Ford-F-250-because-I'm-overcompensating-for-my-small-penis. Our lights go green, and I start a rounded turn to avoid scraping the car positioned at my 10 o'clock that is stopped at its own light in preparation to cross the intersection. My destination: the left lane of the road I'm turning on to. Mr. Overcompensation, meanwhile, makes a beeline for the right lane of the road we're turning on to, cuts off my radius, and forces me to brake, lean on my horn, and shout "YOU CAN OVERCOMPENSATE FOR YOUR SMALL PENIS, BUT YOU CAN'T COMPENSATE IN THE LEAST FOR MY TURNING RADIUS??!!"

Pay attention now, Rhode Islanders, the proper way to make a left turn from the right lane of two left turn lanes is to proceed straight for what might feel like an uncomfortably long time, then proceed into a WIDE, rounded left turn into the right lane of the road you're turning on to. Your goal is to return your steering wheel back to straight position AS you reach the threshold of your destination lane.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The "Style" Myth, and Left Lane Stragglers

Contrary to the beliefs of some, there is no room for "style" in motoring habits. You're either driving correctly, or you're not. Here's an idiotic, Rhode Island example: "I don't know why everyone is always pushing me or riding my ass when I'm driving in the left lane on I-95. I always drive in the left lane. It's my style." Oh? I'd say your style is ignorance! All together now: THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING, NOT TRAVELING! Only use the left lane when you MUST (e.g., within a half mile of a left exit).