Boston driving

Everybody has stories about Boston driving. What's yours? What's the funniest, most amazing, worst, most romantic (yes, it can happen!) thing that's happened to you in a car in the Boston area?

The best story submitted by 6 p.m. on Thursday wins a pair of tickets for this Saturday to the New England International Auto Show at the South Boston convention center.

Rules: Post your story as a comment here, where people can then up-vote them. Like those singing/dancing shows on TV, those'll count for half the votes. Our panel of experts (OK, me and family members) will pick our favorites. The story with the highest percentage wins. Anonymous users are eligible, too - but you'll need to fill out the e-mail address box on the submission form (so I can contact you if you win).

Fine print: Employees of Universal Hub and the New England International Auto Show and affiliated companies and their families not eligible. Void where prohibited by law. The final decision is final.

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    Romantic Storrow Drive

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    Back in our Brighton days, Storrow Drive was how we'd get downtown or to points north. Since we rarely had to make the drive at rush hour, it was mostly a pleasant drive - what with the Charles right there. And on days when we could roll the windows down, it put our elbows out, it was just great.

    When we got married, we had the limo driver take us down Storrow Drive after our reception on our way to the Lenox (where we stayed before flying off on our honeymoon).

    My most horrifying moment

    My most horrifying moment driving into Boston was this summer, coming up the Expressway, got off at Mass Ave. I was on the ramp stopped at the Bypass Rd light, in the left lane, 3rd car back. Light turns green, two cars in front of me are through the intersection and all of a sudden Im slamming on the brakes (dont even think it had registered what was going on at that point).

    Stopped within a foot of T-boning a car going (I assume) through the red light, right to left, somehow making it through the two lanes of moving traffic on my right before ending up in front of me...

    For whatever reason, she stopped in front of me too, then continued on her way.

    Im just had I had taken the vehicle with more responsive brakes that day.

    Not a phone box

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    We had crammed about eight or nine of us into a Honda Civic (fortunately we were a friendly bunch) and were driving down Brighton Ave when we saw a bicyclist get pranged by another car. We screetched over to where the accident happened and proceeded to pile out of the car in true clown-car fashion. The cyclist wasn't badly hurt, so his state of shock was no doubt due to the spectacle of ALL of us peeling ourselves out of that tiny car!

    The first story that comes to

    By on

    The first story that comes to mind actually involves the auto show.

    About 15-20 years ago, a friend of mine (then living out in Worcester or the Metrowest 'burbs somewhere) and his father (in from out of state for a visit) drove into Boston for the Auto Show. Neither was particularly familiar with Boston area roads at that time.

    Having enjoyed their day, they left the hall late in the evening and headed for the highway. They got on the northbound elevated central artery (I forget if that was their mistake or they had intended to exit and get on Storrow Drive WB). They crossed the river on the upper deck of the old bridge, realized they had gone the wrong way, and headed for an exit to turn around.

    They took an exit (Sullivan Square) and ended up in unfamiliar territory in near-complete darkness. Searching in vain for some indication of how to get an on-ramp to 93 south, they ended up heading out route 99. Wandering through a shadowy urban landscape, they eventually ended-up on 1 south, crossing the Tobin. Catching sight of some semi-familiar cityscape, they eventually got on a road going the direction they needed.

    The punchline of all of it was that it was months before they figured out what exactly had happened. Having little familiarity with Boston and none with anything further north and east, they couldn't figure out at first how they had driven away from town on the one-way top deck of an elevated highway double-decker bridge and driven back towards town on the one-way top deck of the same elevated highway double-decker bridge! The fact that one passage had toll booths (and the other didn't) eventually clued them into the fact that there were two bridges.

    Good limo story

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    As a rule, what happens in the back seat, stays in the back seat and I could have told this story without naming the celeb, but this isn't really Perez Hilton style reporting here, so I guess I can go out on a limb this once.

    I had spent the day driving Liam Gallagher around. Despite his rep, I found him to be like most of your rock stars, a big kid. He was here doing a gig at the HOB.

    The next day I took him and his bodyguard to the airport for their flight back to London. As we were driving by South Station, there was woman with a sign at the light that said she needed $32.00 for a bus home. She was normal looking and seemed sincere.

    LG: Wozzat sign say?
    Me: I need $32.00 for a bus home
    LG: Well, she looks fairly normal, pull over and let's give her some of this American money, ere mate, gizzit up.
    Bodyguard: I got seven dollars, ere
    LG: (to woman) ere' love I got about 67 dollars here, Merry Christmas!
    Woman: (Shocked as she recognized him) Oh my GOD! Thanks so much, Merry Christmas!
    Bodyguard: That was right nice of us, eh mate?
    LG: Yeah, but we're still a couple of cunts, right?
    Bodyguard: Straight up, mate.

    And so it goes....

    Three

    1. My little Dodge Shadow was accordianized on the old Central Artery by a van and a Caprice. No injuries, but it looked as though there should have been. I was young and crazy enough to just exchange papers and drive my car home to Brighton. I can't believe I wasn't stopped. The roof was bent, doors didn't fit right, something was dragging on the ground, and when driving straight, the body of the car was crooked. Total write off, of course.

    2. I once got two flat tires on Memorial drive on my way to a date. One flat, I could have changed with a spare, but two?! I called on my cell and explained I had to wait for AAA. She met me there and we ordered Chinese delivered to our spot on the side of the road. I forget where we ordered from, but they were surprisingly un-phased by what we thought was an unusual delivery. Still, there was no third date.

    3. I got engaged in the Callahan Tunnel. We didn't plan for it to happen in there, but that's when the conversation we were having gave way to the right moment. Needless to say, I didn't get on my knees.

    car interactions

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    I wasn't in a car, but close.

    One day I was walking past the Stata Centeron the MIT campus in Cambridge. A car slowed and rolled the window down. The interaction went something like this:

    Passenger: Where is Harvard?
    Me, a little discombobulated: Harvard Street? (as a pedestrian, I'm used to people asking me for directions to various spots)
    Passenger: no, the university
    Me: The other side of Cambridge from here. You'd take a left here, go down Main Street, when you see the UHaul dealer on the left, take the next left, then a quick right. Follow that road, it's Mass Ave, and will take you into Harvard Square, where you'll find the university

    The passenger and driver conferred for a minute.

    Passenger: What about Vassar?
    Me: Vassar Street? You're on it
    Passenger: No, Vassar College. Where is it?
    Me: um, Poughkeepsie. In New York

    The passenger looked confused. I decided that would be a good time to continue walking.

    Another interaction happened more recently, when a driver stopped me on Mass Ave and asked for directions to MIT. I pointed them at 77 Mass Ave. The driver said no, the funky looking building. Frank Gehry, you have much to answer for.

    I was driving a couple of

    By on

    I was driving a couple of visiting friends into Boston on 93 South from Medford, when we were suddenly passed by an out-of-control station wagon doing 80. Backwards.

    The funny part was that the woman in the station wagon didn't look all that distressed about spinning out. We hit our brakes, as did everyone else, and she eventually skidded to a stop without hitting anyone.

    All the driving I've seen around here since then has seemed pretty normal by comparison.

    Love Making

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    I once made love in my station wagon on Mass ave & Comm ave.

    Yes, I really saw this ... and did this ...

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    Only in Boston ... this verified my opinion of Boston drivers - I'm originally from Arizona. I was driving past an on-ramp of Rt. 128 and saw a POLICE CAR (denizens of upholding the law, right?) backing down an on-ramp to get off 128 onto the road I was on. What?!

    Then there was the day when I was in a hurry near Fenway Park, quite a few years ago when there was a bunch of construction. I had a friend's teen-age daughter in the car and we were headed towards town from the Riverway for the movies on the Common and I didn't think we'd make it in time. So I drove over a block to the one-way street parallel to Boyston the wrong way from the direction in which we were heading, and proceeded up it at a reasonable driving speed, figuring I was driving a mom-mobile (mini-van) and who would care, as long as I was careful to watch for on-coming traffic. Unfortunately for me there was a police officer posted at the far end of the one-way street where they were digging up Yawkey Way. I figured I was a dead duck with who knows how much to pay for in a ticket, but the policeman looked at me, figured I was some crazy suburban mom, and just made me turn around and drive back down the one-way the correct way. I headed into town through Kenmore and we actually made it to the movie on time. Hey, it was worth a try!

    Boston driving.

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    This one comes from my dad, who loves to retell it.
    In the late 60s he was working in Cambridge and car commuting in and out of town on Route 1 from Saugus every day. At that point in time Route 1 had a stop light where the Fellsway came in (near where the tall Eastern Bank and the Barnes & Noble are today).

    One afternoon he's stopped at the light in his sporty little car and who pulls up next to him but Bill Russell in a Jaguar. At this point in time I think he was living in Reading still. My dad's looking and looking to confirm that it's who he thinks it is and eventually Russell notices him and just sort of turns to him without any emotion. There's a rev of the engine and my dad does the same. The light changes and even with his foot plastered to the floor, Russell leaves my father in the dust.

    Not much of a story, but it gets a big laugh out of my dad everytime he tells it.

    Party foul in the street

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    One summer I was working for a real estate firm that owned the building that the former Commonwealth Brewery was in over on Portland Street by North Station. They had a sprinkler alarm go off and ruin a load of barley and hops and we had to go over and clean the place up.

    We had one of those large rolling hampers and a couple of trash barrels that we filled up with sopping wet bags of soggy barley and hops. Threw all the crap into the back of a pick up truck and some of it had spilled out onto the tailgate, so we couldn't shut it. The hamper weighed a ton and was wedged in there so we figured it was safe enough.

    Driving under the parking garage at Haymarket and the hamper rolled out and flipped over in the middle of the street. My boss jumped out, tossed the hamper back into the truck, leaving behind this massive, reeking pile of barley and hops in the middle of Merrimac/Congress Street. "Get the hell out of here" - so I drove us back to the shop with a wet case of bottled beers that we scammed from the brewery. Joke was on us - all the beer was tremendously skunked.

    Might explain why the place closed...

    Be Kind to Others

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    When I was in college at Northeastern University, I was working at my first Co-op in Beverly. I had left my apartment early to get gas on my way to work, and when I went to leave the gas station my car wouldn't start.

    Some nice people at the gas station helped me move my car to an area that wasn't in the way. The gas station attendant noticed me having a hard time and came out to see if there was anything he could do. In high school putting oil in it had once worked so we tried that, but when that didn't work I tried to pay for the oil then I was going to call a tow truck. The attendant wouldn't let me pay for the oil since "It didn't help".

    He got me the number for a tow truck and I called and was told it would be $100 to tow it less than a block to a parking garage nearby... The attendant came out and asked what the tow person had said and upon hearing the price looked at me and said "Why don't you just take my car? I am at work till 6 tonight just bring it back when you get out of work."

    I clearly assumed he was kidding and said its ok, but he kept saying it so eventually I responded with "Ok fine, give me your keys". Never expecting him to actually toss his keys to me. Not only did he offer me his brand new car to drive to work, but he didn't even ask for my name or phone number. I gave him my number in case he had any issues and needed me to come back.

    So that day I drove this gas station attendants brand new car to Beverly for work and returned it the next day with gas money in the cup holder. When he left work that day and found the gas money in the cup holder he called and told me he didn't want it, clearly I didn't take it back and he then offered me to take his car the next day as well as have a friend fix my car for me.

    So the next day I showed up at the gas station, thanked him profusely and again drove his car to Beverly for work. When I got home that night he brought me to my car that his friend had tried to fix, but unfortunately it hadn't worked. (It had been ok earlier in the day but again when I got home it didn't start). I asked how much I owed his friend for looking at my car, and was told "Well he didn't fix it, so nothing"

    That day I had left a bottle of Grey Goose in his car as another thank you for letting me take it and for his friend trying to fix my car. I received a phone call when he found it saying I didn't have to do that.

    I told him on that phone call that he was a little crazy, just letting some stranger take his car. His answer, was that his mother taught him to be kind to others. For the rest of my time at Northeastern, this was the only gas station I would use and I would always talk to the attendant for a few minutes before leaving.

    Every time I remember this day I am amazed at how nice people truly are.

    Driving and Dating

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    Dating a girl, she lives in JP, I live in Somerville. She invites me to her house one day, so I look up some directions. 25 minutes, says Google Maps, and I believe it, even though I’d never been to JP, and my knowledge of getting around Boston by car, at that point in time, was a bit limited.

    So I head out. First wrong turn, I miss the Charlesgate exit on Storrow. No big deal, I’ll just get off… let’s see, that exit goes to Cambridge, I don’t know where that one goes… oh, now we’re in Brighton, better get off here. A little back tracking down Commonwealth Avenue, and a turn on to Harvard, this seems about right. I guess I go… this way here, and oh, that was the entrance to the Jamaicaway, wasn’t it. Let’s try this next road. Oh look, the T is parked in the middle of the street. Let’s see, that’s a one way, that’s a dead end, looks like I missed the street again. One lap around the Pond, up Centre street, around that rotary, and there it is, finally found the street.

    And there’s one open parking spot. It’s about two inches wider than my car, and on a 45 degree angle. And I drive stick. So I spend 20 minutes roasting my clutch while re-enacting a scene from Austin Powers, finally get the car parked, and walk up to her door. Only an hour and a half late!

    Amazingly, she kept dating me. And I kept showing up late. Either I’d get stuck in front of the Museum of Science, staring at the road reaching for the sky while a row boat coasted underneath it. Or, I’d get onto Storrow and find out that it had turned into a temporary parking lot for an “Enjoy the Esplanade” concert. Or I’d make it to Boylston and watch the hours wash away in a sea of pink hats. Or I’d try the longer and less scenic route down 93, only to find lane closures had routed it in to some Gordian knot of pavement. Or, in a desperate last resort, I’d try public transportation, only to find an enflamed Red Line car getting a bit redder.

    It all worked out for the best, though. Now we sit in traffic together and come up with clever names to call the idiot of the day who managed to play pong with the guardrails on 128, keeping us from our house in the suburbs.

    Airborn

    By on

    93S between Braintree and Dedham, there is a left-exit / split for Rte 24S. There are 4 lanes going into the split; 2 lanes split left for Rte 24S and 3 lanes go straight for 93S.

    I was driving into work one morning around 10:00 or so. I was 150 feet behind a car in the far left lane for 24S; I was in the middle lane for 93S. We were both going at least 60. The driver reached the point where the road starts to turn left onto Rte 24, and I guess he realized he was going the wrong way. The guy cut hard to the right across the next lane but was too late to make the turn on the road. He hit the little median and went airborn. I saw all 4 tires off the ground. He took out a small yellow sign on his way through the median. He then cut diagonally across all 3 lanes going towards 93S and was able to gain control in the far right breakdown lane, narrowly avoiding crashing into the barrier.

    Luckily no one else was around or else it would have been a disaster. I don't imagine that there are many accidents where a car gets T-Boned on a highway, but that's what would have happened. He got off at the next exit (where I usually get off) and pulled into the Houghton's Pond parking lot. I assume he was taking a breather. I gave him a thumbs-up as I drove by.

    Back in the day, yay I.TO.A. !!!

    By on

    ITOA cab backing up in a rotary because he missed his turn.

    This was Sweetser Circle, Routes 99 and 16, about 18 years ago. Never forget!

    Sitting on a bench...

    In Union Square Somerville, right outside the Sherman Cafe, talking and enjoying a nice quiet summer day with my good friend Josh. A guy in a VERY lifted Jeep Wrangler comes along and stops at the light. It was pretty clear that he'd JUST bought this thing, and it was about to become much more apparent. When the light turned green, he revved it and popped the clutch, lifting his front wheels off the ground and propelling him into the intersection. When his wheels came back down, he lost control, skidded, overcorrected, spun a full 270 and came straight headed straight for a light post on the opposite side of the square and WHAM drove straight into it. There was no one else around, and the guy gets out, looks around, sees us, hops back in the jeep and drove away much slower.