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Pointless Rant: East Coasters Drive Like this…

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Having grown up and spent most of my formative years on the West Coast, I am constantly befuddled by the aversion of East Coasters to drives of even moderate distance. Easterners seem, in my experience, largely incapable of conceiving of any drive that takes longer than 45 minutes. Baltimore to Philly? Might as well be the Bataan Death March. New York to Boston? I heard about a guy who tried it once, but I think he was eaten by wild animals near Providence, wherever that is. To be sure, there are good reasons why people should shun long drives, including environmental concerns and the relatively high accident rate of automobile travel. These are not, however, the concerns that my Eastern interlocutors most often invoke. Rather, they just can’t seem to imagine sitting in a car long enough to get from one place to another.

It is not this way in the West. You wouldn’t want to do it everyday, but it was not uncommon for myself and my friends to drive from Seattle to Portland for a day trip, returning the same evening. That’s 170 miles one way, give or take. Hell, while I was at UO it wasn’t even that unusual to do a Eugene to Seattle round-trip in a single day. Mention to an urbanite from the Boston-DC corridor that you’re considering a trip that might take an hour (time spent in traffic doesn’t count, for some reason), and they’ll respond with a blank, stunned stare. Let me illustrate this point with a short play:

Cast:
Hans- Stasi Interrogator
John- Captured CIA spy hailing from Boston

Hans: Ve have vays of making you talk. Ve shall drive you to ze place of torture vere ve shall find ze location of your nuclear bomb.
John: (meekly) How long of a drive?
Hans: Four hours, but do not vorry. Ve give you a nice New York Review of Books and a thermos coffee-
John: (whispering) Four…. hours? (shrieking) OH GOD, GOD NO! I’LL TALK! I’LL TALK!

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