11 July 2014

Reflections on Summer Travels

Just finished Ann Arbor-94-96-401-403-QEW-405-190-290-90-ROC (going one way or the other) for the 6th time this summer, heading back Sunday. Pretty boring drive, allowing ample time to ponder a couple of empirical generalizations.

First, Americans are really, really crappy drivers. Invariably, if there is someone sitting in the passing lane at three miles an hour above the speed limit in Canada, it is a car with US plates of some sort. Of course this creates backups and provokes passing on the right, thereby endangering everyone. Difficult to tell whether this is purposeful crappiness or just obliviousness. No behavioral difference. In the US, on both the MI and NY legs, each driver apparently thinks they have a natural right to stay in the passing lane. Infuriating driving. Canadians exhibit the opposite pattern, doing their best to get out of the way of faster traffic. 

Second, US Customs officers are generally pompous asses. No gender variation. They seem sincerely astonished when, having kept you waiting for between forty and ninety minutes as you try to cross the border into your own freakn' country, you are not just brimming with good cheer as they interrogate you. And they seem absolutely startled when, in response to their inevitable query - 'Is there something wrong sir?' - you point out that having had to sit forever waiting for them to do their purposeless searching and interrogating has added an hour or more to an already long tedious trip. On the other hand, it is best not to engage them in debate about how they are protecting your liberty and security by stemming the hoard of invasive Molson-swilling, plaid-wearing, hockey-loving Canadians. By contrast Canadians customs officers are only intermittently arrogant and annoying. The lines entering Canada, where I am not a citizen, are rarely very long.

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