I was just in New York for a quick trip, and experienced a bizarre moment that re-defined my identity.
Preface: I took driver's education in Washington Heights, a part of Manhattan in which the term "defensive driving" is meaningless. If you waited at a corner for pedestrians to clear, you never went anywhere; crossing an interesection, making a turn or changing lanes was a combination of skill, nerves and mazal.
How aggressive was that brand of driving? When I took my first driver's test on Long Island, I failed because I entered an intersection to prepare for a turn while pedestrians were still in the crosswalk. I had no idea what the tester was talking about when she corrected me; I had never heard anything about this odd rule.
Back to my recent visit: My years out of New York have mellowed me, apparently. I was crossing Lower Manhattan at Canal Street, going from the Holland Tunnel to the Williamsburg Bridge. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper, and then some. I needed to change lanes, and was a bit nervous because (a) I was driving a rental car that was significantly nicer than my own and (b) The rental car was much larger than my own, with poor sightlines.
So I start easing my way over, allowing car after car to go by as I get further into the lane. Finally, I have my hole and I ease in - and then a car that had been way behind zooms up to take the spot. I roll down my window, and he rolls down his. And I shout, "What's the matter with you - don't you have any manners?"
That's it - If that's the best I can come up with, I'm definitely not a New Yorker anymore...