How Can You Make Way for Others?

North Western to Northern OnMy family traveled to Minneapolis last weekend for a family function. We drove on several highways where they have metered on-ramps. There’s a sign that says, “One car per green.” Often, there are two lanes at the lights. The lights alternate one car from each lane. It’s a nice way to make sure the highway doesn’t become too congested too fast. We make way for each other.

I’ve only seen people obey these meters in Minnesota (and in California). We wouldn’t obey them in Massachusetts.

We might line up in the correct two lines. Then, one lane would push through three, four, five, maybe even 42 cars at a time, until the other lane got fed up. The first car would go, without making any eye contact with the person in the other lane. (This part is very important.)

We would have a free-for-all—which is what occurs on Massachusetts highways now. We do not make eye contact because we might have to make an allowance for the other person.

We don’t make way for other people unless there’s a reason to, such as a law. For example, several years ago, we finally passed a law that says the vehicle already in a rotary (traffic circle) has the right of way. Before that law, you might get into the rotary. You might find it a challenge to leave.

There’s a reason for that: too many Massachusetts highways have crazy merges: five lanes to two lanes in the space of a half-mile. The rotaries are tight and still allow for two lanes, not one. Cars don’t have enough room to make way for others. If you come to a full stop, you endanger yourself, never mind other people.

Yes, Massachusetts driving is not for the faint of heart. You need guts! Drive! Determination! And, a way to not make eye contact and still see where the other people are.

It’s part of what makes Massachusetts driving fun. (This kind of driving also occurs in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and some parts of New York. It might occur in New Hampshire. I don’t think Vermont or Maine have enough cars for it to occur. I could be wrong.)

As a family, we had a big laugh about the courtesy in Minnesota. We talked about how the metered ramps would never work here. Not the way things are now.

When we make way or allowance for others, we create a little ease in our world. We offer one person the opportunity to move ahead. Not an entire line of cars—just one car.

With ease, we all benefit. We make it a little easier for everyone to succeed. We have more opportunities for win-win, not win-lose. I wonder if this part of a scarcity or abundance mentality. I’m not sure.

As a family, we had a lovely time in Minnesota, seeing family, enjoying each other. We made way for each other, getting in the car, getting out, and accommodating each others’ needs. We didn’t need an on-ramp meter. We didn’t jostle for position as Massachusetts cars do. We made way for each other.

That’s the question this week: How can you make way for others?

2 thoughts on “How Can You Make Way for Others?

  1. Jim Grey

    My best friend in college grew up in New Jersey. I went out there one Spring Break to spend the week with him. I was astonished to find that when the light turned green, the person waiting always let the first oncoming left-turner go through.

    That just seemed ridiculous to my Indiana mind. A super strange adulteration of the rules. I could see the courtesy, but how would this not lead to chaos if someone took advantage?

    I’ve driven in Massachusetts exactly once. In Boston. From the airport. It was so brutal, so much a free-for-all, so much a might-makes-right situation that I took my rental car back to the airport and took taxis everywhere. Then I figured out there was a train (subway? it’s been 15 years or more) from the airport that dropped me off close enough to the hotels I tended to use that I never rode in a car in Boston ever again.

    1. johanna Post author

      Jim, I didn’t know that New Jerseyites were that polite. Here, if you let one car go, the entire line of left-turners would prevent you from going straight until the light turned red again. How nice of them.

      Yes, when people not-from-Boston arrive and ask about rental cars, I suggest this:
      – Never rent a car in Boston
      – If you really want to rent, rent in a suburb and return in a suburb.
      – Never rent a car in Boston

      Yup, re the might-makes-right. (In downtown Boston, you have to figure out where to park and parking is so expensive that taxis totally make sense.) And, the T, that subway, is pretty useful in Boston. Not so much the suburbs, but downtown it’s quite useful.

      Thanks, I needed a great big laugh today. I feel great now!! (Husband was rear-ended on a highway last week and we are in the throes of car-shopping. Argh. He’s fine, it will all be fine, but I needed a laugh and you gave me one. Thanks.)

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