It was so cold this week that Monday’s White Christmas has become a sheet of crusty ice.
But those of us unlucky enough to be back at work, or impatient to return that new sweater, had to get back on the roads. So in clouds of exhaust, we scraped away at our windshields — SCRITCH SCRITCH SCRITCH — and called out to each other from our driveways.
“Be careful out there!”
As you surely know, ice and snow bring out the best in the careful, patient drivers for which our region is known. OK, that’s not quite right. It actually turns Boston into “Mad Max on Ice.”
Why are we so unreasonable behind the wheel, when our lives are quite literally on the line? Hard to say. But if you’re one of these Boston winter road warriors (and now that we’re all neck-deep in this week’s frigid hellscape, aren’t we all?) you might be part of the problem.
Only The Daredevil knows how to drive in the snow and ice — according to The Daredevil, anyway. How else can you explain someone willing to accelerate across three lanes of slushy, snow-blinded traffic without signaling? And so what if his SUV’s wheel wells are caked with so much hardened, blackened snow sludge that vast shards fly off when he turns?
Weaving in and out of holiday traffic in an ice storm for the benefit of arriving at the mall 18 seconds earlier might seem insane, but not if you’re The Daredevil. All this is only possible because The Daredevil can judge the dimensions of both his car and your car with perfect precision. Right up until the moment he can’t.
The Rage Monster
It’s the holidays, so why is this guy — it’s usually a guy — saltier than the turnpike after a nor’easter? Settle down, my man. I know you’d rather I slam head first into a bridge abutment than inconvenience you slightly, but I’m going to have to merge at some point in the next four seconds, and slamming on the brakes on a sheet of black ice is not a viable option. Sincerest apologies for causing you to let off the gas slightly for a fraction of a second. I know my death would have been much easier to live with, but could you maybe lay off the horn and flashing high beams?
The Coward creeps along as if a winter storm is actually an end-times event in which the ground before us might rip open at any moment and swallow us in a sea of fire. At least it would be warm. You might think The Coward has the right idea: It’s good to slow down in the ice and snow — a lesson The Daredevil will learn the moment he careens into the median. But too slow can also be a problem, especially if you, like The Coward, reflexively slam on the brakes at imaginary signs of trouble.
This is why The Coward can often be spotted sliding diagonally, wheels locked, through a busy intersection. The light wasn’t even yellow when The Coward, freaked out by someone turning right three blocks ahead, mashed the brake pedal and began a slow motion tour of the oncoming traffic lanes before coming to rest on the curb.
The Bike Person
I’m only including this so The Bike People don’t yell at me. I know, I know, I should be biking. And I’m out there with you in spirit, Bike Person. But not everyone is up for pedaling home in an ice storm with a 12-pound rib roast strapped to his back. I’ll see you out there April-ish. Watch out for Rage Monsters.
The Fool does not own a snow brush or an ice scraper (or a garage) and so sets out in what appears to be a surprisingly accurate ice sculpture of a 1990 Chevy Lumina. Not only is the windshield still frozen over, The Fool still has 3 inches of hardened snow on the roof from the last storm. There are times when weather patterns would make this seem impossible, but somehow The Fool manages, crop dusting the city with roof snow for days on end.
The Fool relies almost entirely on the attention, skill, and reflexes of other drivers. He realizes too late that he’s in the left-turn-only lane and instead of just turning left and figuring out another route, veers to the right, sliding across traffic.
Maybe just take the left and sort it out later? Never! Because if you look closely through the 3 inches of clear windshield, you will spy The Fool staring down at a phone.
The Take-the-T Guy
Take-the-T Guy is always telling you to take the T. I like the T. I take it to work every day. But buddy, it’s winter and I live on the Red Line. Do you read the news?
The Tailgating Trucker
There’s nothing that will make you up your life insurance policy like glancing in the mirror to see a thundering tractor-trailer practically making contact with your car’s antenna. Trucks have bad stopping distance even in perfect conditions, but that doesn’t dissuade some truckers from staking out spots approximately 18 inches behind your bumper.
Listen, my dude, I get it. You’re at work. The sooner you drop off this load of small-batch artisanal horse carrots or whatever, the sooner you’re back at home with your family. But you could barely fit an index card between your chromed-out Optimus Prime grille and my feeble, plastic bumper.
If you were any closer, you would be sitting in the back seat with my screaming 1-year-old.
And believe me: Neither of us wants that.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.