At this time of year, we are supposed to be in a giving and loving mood. Peace on Earth. Good will toward men or, if you are into PC, good will toward all people.
On the road, however, the watchword seems to be "Good luck to everyone who's not me."
What gets into people at this time of year? This phenomenon once stretched from Thanksgiving to Superbowl. Now, it seems to start on Flag Day and stretches until the next Memorial Day, but I digress.
Picture in your mind a driver in the left lane of a road that has two lanes in each direction. The driver (let's say he for expediency) puts on his right signal, intending to move to the right lane. That now seems to be a signal for the driver 100 yards back to put his car into hyper-drive and pass the guy trying to move over on the right.
This happened in front of me a couple of days ago. I pulled up next to this genius at a light. This person's mouth was going a mile a minute and she was gesturing like Jack Benny doing Shakespeare.
Next comes the Mensa leader who passes you on the right, passes the next car on the left and then ducks into an exit. Or, as happened to me on a parkway, a car enters, crosses two lanes of traffic in front of me and enters the left-turn lane, and then waits for the light to change. Nobody for miles in back of me. Just had to get onto the highway. Must have known a meteor was about to strike the side road.
So, as a public service, here are Len'sLens' (or if you are the New York Times, here are Len'sLens's) tips to survival on the road this season of good will.
Len's axiom No. 1. The intelligence of a driver is in inverse proportion to the size of the vehicle he or she is driving. The trucker who tailgates in the blizzard. The SUV (stupid unnecessary vehicle) driver who takes up a parking place and a half then carps because the parking fee is greater than the Mini-Cooper next door. Or takes up a lane and a half on the side road and you just need to get out of the way. Hummers. Double-wide four-door 400-horsepower diesel pickup trucks owned by New York City residents. You get the idea: Things without which life would not be worth living.
A few tips on driving in the several states of the Northeast.
Maine: Don't worry. Take your time. Everyone else is.
Vermont: What can you say about the state that gave us Dr. Howard Dean. Just make sure you mark your Volvo so you can find it in the shopping center that looks like a Volvo dealership. And don't yell anything that sounds conservative out the car window.
New Hampshire: Sort of like Maine. Don't yell anything that sounds liberal out the car window.
Rhode Island: Just get out of the way.
Massachusetts: If you see a car in the lane to your left signaling right, believe it. Don't worry about parallel double parking. Everyone does it.
Connecticut: When the light turns green, count slowly to five before proceeding. Ignore the blare of horns in back of you. Just watch the car on the cross-street speed through the light at the count of four. And it just seems like everyone drives an SUV.
New York: It works like this. In the city, all the drivers are herd animals. There may be miles of empty road around, but they have to bunch together. Deal with it. And most important is the mindset. Nobody taught them that two cars cannot inhabit the same space at the same time. Remember that and you'll be fine.
New Jersey: Here's the mindset. The New Jersey driver is the only one on the road. All the other cars are just holograms to amuse the driver. There is nobody else on the road, so the driver can go wherever he or she wants. You just need to get out of the way.
Have a wonderful season.