mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

How to drive like a Balti-moron....

I learned to drive in New Jersey, a state not necessarily known for it's excellent drivers. Baltimore City drivers, however, make New Jersey drivers looksane and restrained. Some tips for driving in Baltimore:

1. Frequently in traffic, there will be places where two lanes of traffic need to merge into one - an exit ramp, a two lane that goes into one, a line of parked cars in the right lane (which we will cover in depth later). A normal driver in the lane that ends would look to see if there is an opening, and speed up or slow down based on openings. A Baltimore driver does not feel the need to bother with this - too much work. Just keep driving and drift into the other lane. After all, the other drivers aren't going to hit you. Why should you make any effort to accommodate them? One acquaintance of mine has dubbed this phenomena the "Maryland merge"

2. Red lights are really just suggestions. Feel free to ignore them. Once again, if there is someone in the way, it's in their best interest for them to accommodate you and not hit you. There is an exception to this rule however - if the intersection you are about to roll has one of Baltimore's notorious red light cameras. In this case you have to make every possible effort to stop, even if it means coming to a stop in the middle of the intersection and leaving a trail of smoking rubber of a length not commonly found outside of dragstrips.

3. For some odd reason, Baltimore residents will occasionally have accidents. Some people feel that after an accident, people should restore their vehicles to something resembling factory condition. This is a waste of money. Why spend your money on some fancy-pants glass window when the grocery store will give you several free bags with any purchase? If you are especially spendy, you might want to spring for a trash bag. The same applies to other body parts. Crumple your bumper? Just take it off. Break a headlight? Screw it, you've got another one.

4. Bumper stickers are a legitimate means of debate. After all, most people get their political opinions from the back of a late-80's Volvo wagon. An "anyone but Bush" sticker will surely make even the heartiest NRO subscriber vote for Kerry, and a "keep your hands off my body" will certainly make even the most ardent right-to-lifer start volunteering at Planned Parenthood.

5. Anywhere is a legal place to park, except wherever you are parked right now. If you are driving down a road with multiple lanes, avoid the right lane, as this will frequently turn into parking spaces. Avoid the left lane too, if possible, as these are sometimes parking spaces as well - there is a stretch of Falls Road not too far from me where it is legal to park in the left lane on Sundays during certain hours. However, if you yourself actually try to park somewhere, chances are you will at best get a ticket, and at worse have your car towed, then crushed into tiny pellets by Baltimore's finest. I once got a ticket for parking in a bus stop, despite the fact that there is no actual way of distinguishing between the bus stop and a legal parking space, and I was well ahead
of the concrete apron. On the other hand, someone once abandoned a Chevy Nova not too far from where I live. It was clear that the vehicle was abandoned, due to the fact that the driver's seat and B-pillar had been relocated over to the passenger side - it had apparently been T-boned by Bigfoot. It sat for about a month until an abandoned car sticker was placed on it, and another 2 weeks before it was finally towed. This was, by the way, on a six-lane road that is technically part of Route 1.

6. Headlights should be used sparingly. It is not unusual to drive in a blinding rainstorm, where you can barely see a carlength ahead of you, and yet 75% of cars will have their headlights off. The exception is if you own some sort of fixed-up Japanese rice burner, in which case you must affix at least 6 fog lights and leave them on all the time while bumping Eminem off your 1000-watt system.

7. You should put chrome rims on your car, even if they are worth more than your car. I've seen chromes on pretty much everything, including minivans, taxicabs, and Kia's. If you can't afford actual chrome rims, get a set of chrome plated plastic hubcaps. I once saw a late-90's Ford Escort sporting plastic spinners. And the car was stopped, and the rims did not in fact keep spinning - possibly because they were made of the same material as soda bottles.


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