Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Yorker no more

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...


  1. Congratulations.
    Being a New Yorker was never all it was thought to be.

  2. If you had fully erased your background, you might not have razzed the other driver!

  3. Hey if you are not a New Yorker anymore you can start rooting for real teams. ;)

  4. Shlomo-
    I don't know about that... I enjoyed it when I was one.

    Glad to hear it!

    Indeed; I'm somewhere between New Yorker and non-New Yorker.

    What do Californians know about such things?

  5. Excellent. Shortly after I arrived in Canada (having lived in Israel and Texas), I went with friends for a hike. I drove us all up into the mountains outside town. Later on one of the participants politely informed me that the others don't want me to drive the group anymore until I learn to drive more politely. Shortly afterwards I started noticing quaint Canadian customs such as stopping for pedestrians. And in BC that means even those not in a crosswalk! Imagine that...

  6. That's funny, R' Mordechai. It's not the same in Eastern Canada; I've seen quite a few aggressive drivers in Toronto, but they don't seem as adept as New Yorkers in the fine points.