June 28, 2016

Driving in New York, and other cries for help

A giant roadtrip is an awesome thing. I highly recommend it to everyone. Even as I'm writing this, I'm engaged in a classic roadtrip activity, namely desperately trying to wait out a storm, and hoping that when it's over there's at least one road left that's not flooded. Apparently Texas isn't great at water drainage. But that's ok. On a cross-country trip you get to learn the little quirks of driving in each state and/or major metropolitan area (and as we'll talk about later, that's not Texas's worst problem). For instance, in Boston, the average driveway is about as wide as a standard-issue chihuahua (a breed of dog not commonly acclaimed for its width). Also, every street is a "one way" street, and as a special fun experience for visitors, they hide the signs indicating this behind traditional Boston foliage. 

Other, more tourism driven places, such as Manhattan, take the wise precaution of never allowing visitors to leave. Faced with the strategic onslaught of poorly paved roads, unyielding pedestrian traffic, and 14 dollar tolls to go anywhere including the bathroom, most tourists visiting Manhattan abandon their cars and former lives to become street performers who the native New Yorkers, in accordance with the ancient scroll of New Yorker etiquette, will spit on. 

Another hard-learned lesson of road tripping is that states are getting way too friendly with their nonsensical electronic toll systems. In various states, these are usually called something like "ez-pass," or "i-pass." Normally, this isn't an issue. If you have the electronic pass, you enter that lane. Otherwise you enter the cash lane. Some states, however, such as Virginia (The Trumped Up Speeding Ticket State), have a fun new innovation where they don't allow cash payments. That's right, the only way to avoid breaking the law in Virginia is not only to buy a dumb piece of plastic that's worthless unless you ever travel back through their dumb state, but to have known about that policy ahead of time. I frankly don't know who Virginia thinks they're fooling with this one. Everybody knows that there's only one good reason to go to Virginia, and that's to tour the distillery that's in te town George Washington's family lived in. 

But at least Virginia will do you the courtesy of tracking you down like a wild animal and sending you a bill if you don't e-pay one of their ludicrous tolls. Which is more than can be said about Texas (the Suprise Torrential Storm State). If their ludicrous road signs can be believed, Texas has no fewer than 3 electronic toll devices they use. Some tolls take all 3, some only take one form. But the unifying factor is that none of them take cash, and they specifically mention that they won't send you a bill. For the life of me, the only reason I can think of for this specific idiotic confluence of dumb policies is so that the Texas state police can engage in crazed Dukes of Hazzard style car chases. And if that's what they want, well I'm happy to oblige. Maybe they figure that me and Texas have some unfinished business. Maybe they figure right. 

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