I love a lot of things about Boston: the climate, the architecture/city-density, the bike lanes, the museums and arts and things, the weirdness and history of it.
Obviously, the people too. And I mean this genuinely. They are absolutely hilarious. For example:
I was on my way back from the grocery store the other morning, having picked up some last-minute salad materials, and I’m biking back on the mainish road to my house. On the way, there’s two really great (i.e., awful) intersections. Both are side streets that have a stop-sign coming onto the main road.
It’s a classic “people trying to turn left and getting frustrated” situation: the people trying to get from the side street onto the main road, and the people on the main road trying to turn left onto the side street.
Coming back from the store, heading East, is one of the latter situations. It’s always kind of a clusterfuck, and I was heading home a little after eleven, so not quite lunch time, but near enough that there’d be traffic.
There’s trucks, busses, and cars all trying to do their thing. Someone from the side street makes a stupid move (i.e., they run out and turn onto the main road) in front of a guy that was waiting, and I’m following a largish truck, which I know is probably hiding me from the guy waiting to turn left onto the side road.
No problem: I slow down a little.
The truck goes by, and the guy starts to make his turn without really checking for other cars or cyclists (i.e., me). Fine. I stop, he stops, and I try and nod my head to indicate that he should go.
And yes, I probably made a face. Because I knew it was going to happen, this game of who-should-go, and I didn’t mean it meanly towards the dude, just expressing general annoyance and resignation to the car-culture in which we live. Fine.
So anyway, he waves me on with a scowl, I push out of my semi-track stand (I’m getting better at them, especially with ol’ Schwinny set up as a flat-bar), and then he shouts out the window:
“Don’t you give me a look, you fucking asshole!”
He was an older white gentleman, driving a navy Crown Vic with MA America plates (I think the commemorative veteran plates, not 100% sure), and it was with a good old fashioned Boston accent that he yelled.
I, smiling, shrugged an apology, and continued on my way, thinking about a conversation I’d had earlier that morning about how, in Boston, the exterior shell of public interactions is one of a kind of fear: i.e., “What, you think you’re better than me?”
Once you break through the shell, they’re people like there’s people everywhere, all a little different, all (more or less) human though (I say “more or less” because I’m in a very anti-“Enlightenment humanness” mood, via my lit theory class).
What’s funny about Boston is that you’ll have that, but then you’ll also almost always get let in a line, or if it’s bumper-to-bumper, people will let you make a turn or otherwise punch through, and so there is a kind of community feeling here. Just a particularly prickly one. A kind of endearing belligerence.
Or maybe that guy was just an asshole. Who knows?