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I am sure you are trying to figure out, what is Boston’s biggest PR problem? Is it that old stereotype of Boston being racist due to the anti-busing issues of the 70s? Could it be that Boston is the 4th most expensive city to live in the USA (and why Amazon will probably not choose Boston for its 2nd headquarters)? Or might the problem be the increasing traffic nightmare that Boston finds itself in? Well, it is none of these actually, although any one of them could be justified.
Boston’s biggest PR problem is actually the entire state’s problem, but it is much more noticeable in Boston. So, what is this problem? How bout M.A.S. or Mass Auto Syndrome… I am not talking about a disease that effects people in the masses, nope, not a developing pandemic (although some people may take issue with the fact that it’s not) … No clue yet? OK, OK, perhaps you will recognize M.A.S by its better-known reference, the “Masshole”! To be clear… this refers to people driving in their cars in Massachusetts (pedestrians & bikers are another problem and future post down the road – no pun intended). The consensus here is that people here are great… just not so much in their cars!
OH, YES I can see you now, nodding your head up and down in agreement! It is a big problem here and either you have experienced it or you are part of the problem. Hey, it’s ok to admit if you are an active member, in fact I used to be a very active member myself. The good news is there is hope for you if you are a Masshole looking to make a change. More on this later.
You know if you are a member of the Masshole Society if you possess any of the following traits:
· You immediately HONK your horn as soon as the light turns green, even if the cars in front of you are starting to move.
· At the sight of a car in the next lane signaling to move over, you immediately speed up to block them.
· Approaching a highway exit, you will choose to cut into the lane, without a signal, rather than sit in that line of traffic.
· When a car in front of you has its turn signal on, you speed up to make the turn before they can get over (similar to #2).
· You speed to beat every car in front of you, but at the next light you see all those other cars pull up behind & next to you.
· You block an intersection just because you can, and you don’t really care.
· That yellow-to-red light move (but much closer to red).
These are just some of the main traits, without getting into “road rage.” I see these every day, playing themselves out on the streets and highways of Massachusetts, home to the Masshole. Now, I learned to drive in NJ & NYC as a youngin’ and yes, there are very aggressive drivers down there as well. The only difference is that drivers in NJ/NY respect the blinker.
As I mentioned earlier, I too joined the Masshole society when I moved here in 1980. OH and believe me, much like the other members of the society, I too was a proud card carrying member, until I started driving for Uber & Lyft. It was a real learning lesson that first year. I received 4 tickets my first year and had to go to traffic school, a very painful 8 hours. My auto body shop called me Crash, as I had my front bumper replaced twice and back bumper replaced 4 times… and none of these little incidents were my fault (yeah, yeah, yeah), but it added to the aggressive driving issues. None of these incidents happened when I had passengers, by the way, and they became a total wake-up call for me.
The good news is that I got kicked out of the Masshole Society, as I have not had an accident or traffic violation in 3 years. And yes, if you find yourself identifying with the traits above, you too can reform. Here are a few hints for you:
· Drive a PRIUS… it is just hard to be scary aggressive in a Prius, ya know?
· Let the aggressive drivers go around you, rather than challenging them.
· Don’t forget to exhale!
· Be kind to other drivers. You will still get to your destination in a timely manner.
· Be chill.
· Join an anger management group?
Do we really want to be known as the “land of the Masshole?” I think not! It is really bad PR for Boston and the state, as it is usually the first and the last impression visitors get of the area. This is too bad, because most visitors LOVE Boston, for good reasons. In fact, other than our winters; it is just the drivers in Boston that they hate… It’s Boston’s biggest PR problem!