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Carlo Rotella

Intersection of rude and anonymous

THERE’S AN intersection near my home where the always fragile order of traffic civility routinely breaks down. Some combination of factors - the slight curve of the cross street as it approaches Route 9, drivers obliged to decide exactly where in the extra-wide intersection to make a left turn, the conceptual jolt as local traffic encounters the flow of longer-range commuters - leads to hard braking, wrathful exclaiming, and the endless impotent futility of honking horns. It’s a dangerous intersection between the neighborhood and the metropolis.

I was passing through there recently, blinker on, waiting to make a left onto Route 9, when the driver behind me did the kind of crazy thing you see at this intersection - and all over the Boston area, with its many irregular junctions and short-tempered drivers. As the last oncoming car cleared and I began to turn, the driver behind me stomped on the gas and tried to squeeze past me on the inside. There wasn’t room, of course, especially for her wallowing SUV, and to avoid a crash I swerved wide, narrowly missing a car on the other side. She had taken the kind of insane, pointless risk with both of our cars and lives that briefly fills even a gentle woodland creature like myself with hot outrage.

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