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Tom Finneran: “Drive,” She Said…

Friday, April 25, 2014

 

Speaking of jerks, there were two more just this morning. Where’s a lynch mob when you need one? And what happened to good old-fashioned righteous American anger?

I know, I know, I see the answer in the mirror every morning. I’m as big a jerk as anyone, practically a techie-terrorist, constantly checking text messages and email at every traffic light and tying up cars behind me. How selfish. How rude. How totally self-centered. Although at least in my defense, I don’t do it when traffic slows down to a mere 40 miles per hour. There are worse, far worse offenders than me. At least I wait until I’m at a light. Still, I ‘fess up and I should grow up.

Take this test on your next commute--leave your phone out of reach, preferably turned off, and simply count how many folks are oblivious to their surroundings, particularly to the light right in front of them which probably turned green a full minute ago while they studied the text of the next foolish promotion from some on-line Madoff. Inevitably they gain consciousness with about two seconds to go, so they zoom through the intersection, leaving the thirty other cars behind them fuming at their rudeness. The over-under on an ordinary commute will be eight. Multiply that by your reverse commute, multiply that by your daily routine, and pretty soon you’re convinced that everyone is a selfish idiot and you start to become one yourself.

My sister-in-law came up with an ingenious solution to this tech-device plague which has descended upon American life. At a recent holiday family gathering, she put a big wicker basket beside the front door and she collected the cellphones of everyone who came in the door. It was a great party, with everyone singing and talking just like in the “olden days”. Of course the teenagers were rattled because for the first time in years they had to make eye contact and conversation with other human beings. Oh the horror, oh the inhumanity of it all...

Speaking of the old days and the old ways, does it strike you that America’s attention span is shrinking? Have we become incapable of actually sitting, listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking? Does everything have to have the speed of an NFL blitz? Does everything have to have the content shrunk to the size of a pea-brain? I’m old enough to remember a time when people were both thoughtful and productive in all dimensions of their lives and they suffered no deficit from the absence of these infernal devices. And old foagies like me could easily remember dozens and dozens of addresses and phone numbers. We were so good with numbers that it was as if we were bookies in training.

I suspect that my lament is not only age-based but that this boorish behavior is also concentrated on the coasts. Perhaps there’s something about the proximity of salt water which alters our brains, but I would bet that the communities of the mid-West are nowhere near as pre-occupied as we coastal people with these handcuffs which we carry around with us. Have you ever driven in the mid-West? Wow. What a delight. People are patient and courteous and downright nice to each other. And it’s contagious! At the second or third intersection that you might come to, it will dawn on you that yet another driver has waved you on, using all their fingers not just one, and has done so with a big warm friendly smile. Lo and behold, at the next intersection you’ll find yourself doing the exact same thing. It actually feels pretty darn good and it’s a lot more relaxing than navigating a Massachusetts rotary.

My theory on the great kindness and humanity of the mid-West is tied to their farming history. Anyone who has ever planted a crop knows the virtue of patience. Things just don’t happen overnight. It takes patience and prayer, good luck and good weather, and things can go bad pretty quickly when the crops are in the field. East and West Coast people might call it a simple state of mind that mid-Westerners bring to their lives. Others, including me, might call it plain old wisdom. Henceforth I’m with that front porch big-sky sunrise and sunset crowd. They figured things out a lot better and a lot faster than the jerk in front of me who’s texting away at the green light.

“Hey buddy, drive the car… while I’m still young.”

 

Related Slideshow: Most Dangerous Intersections in Massachusetts

Using the most recent available data, GoLocalWorcester has compiled a list of the Most Dangerous Intersections in New England.

See the methodology here

Since different states chose different time spans in which to accumulate their data (3-10 years), GoLocal standardized the tallies to a 3-year sum.

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#10

Lowell, MA

Bridge St. + Veterans of Foreign Wars Highway

Total Crashes: 112

Fatal Crashes: 0

Injury Crashes: 34

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 78

 

Source: MA DOT

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#9

Holyoke, MA

Holyoke St. + Holyoke Mall at Ingleside

Total Crashes: 198

Fatal Crashes: 0

Injury Crashes: 29

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 169

 

Source: MA DOT

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#8

Lowell, MA

Veterans of Foreign Wars Highway + Varnum Ave.

Total Crashes: 165

Fatal Crashes: 0

Injury Crashes: 37

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 128

 

Source: MA DOT

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#7

Cambridge, MA

Massachusetts Ave. + Vassar St.

Total Crashes: 41

Fatal Crashes: 1

Injury Crashes: 19

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 21

 

Source: MA DOT

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#6

Worcester, MA

Main St. + Mill St.

Total Crashes: 53

Fatal Crashes: 1

Injury Crashes: 18

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 34

 

Source: MA DOT

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#5

Holyoke, MA

Main St. + Cabot St.

Total Crashes: 57

Fatal Crashes: 1

Injury Crashes: 18

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 38

 

Source: MA DOT

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#4

Waltham, MA

Main St. + Lyman St.

Total Crashes: 73

Fatal Crashes: 1

Injury Crashes: 18

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 54

 

Source: MA DOT

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#3

Stoughton, MA

Canton St. + School St.

Total Crashes: 39

Fatal Crashes: 2

Injury Crashes: 10

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 27

 

Source: MA DOT

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#2

Chelsea, MA

Revere Beach Pkwy. + Washington Ave.

Total Crashes: 39

Fatal Crashes: 2

Injury Crashes: 11

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 26

 

Source: MA DOT

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#1

Somerville, MA

Mystic Ave. + Fellsway

Total Crashes: 91

Fatal Crashes: 3

Injury Crashes: 24

Crashes with Property Damage Only: 64

 

Source: MA DOT

 
 

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