Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nantucket Summer: Moving Violations

If I were Henry Kennis, the Police Chief in my Nantucket mystery novels, there are days when I would arrest everyone on the I see on the streets Not all of them are breaking the law – the drunk drivers and the speeders; but their outrages are just as infuriating, especially when we hit the mid-point of the summer, August is careening toward us, and you know it’s all just going to get worse.
Where to start? How about with the Rotary piggy-backers? Sit on the deck at Lola Burger and watch the show – three, four, five, six cars caravanning into the roundabout from Milestone road, an unbroken train of heedless overpriced metal, while everyone else fumes and waits. The last car – most likely a Range Rover or a BMW M5 – was still on Polpis Road when the the painter in the old van, heading out from Marine Home Center, arrived at the intersection. And yet somehow Mr. BMW is entitled to first place in the line. He pushes to the front at Bartletts and Sandoli’s, too. But his kids are worse, texting while they drive, honking and shouting abuse when the lady in front of them hits the brakes for a gaggle of kids on bikes.
Then there are the finger twigglers, the lords of the four-way stop sign. They got there first but refuse to go through, wiggling their fingers at you, imperiously granting you permission to drive on. Does that seem neighborly and polite? Just try ignoring them. Then you find out it’s some kind of perverse twisted power play.
I haven’t forgotten the parking lot miscreants. They don’t get – or choose to ignore -- the  most obvious, if unwritten, parking lot rule: free parking spaces are a lottery. If someone is loading their groceries into the back of their car as you’re driving by, YOU LOSE. Keep moving. Leave the spot for the next person. Don’t make a growing line of cars wait for five minutes so you can grab it. Most of all, do  not BACK UP when you realize you’ve passed newly liberated spot, and force all those other people to back up also, for your convenience. No one cares about your convenience.
At least the Stop & Shop has marked spaces. The long side of Marine home center, where the tradesmen park, has never bothered to paint in some slant parking lines, so most days you see two big trucks parked in a V, or one giant van parked parallel – anything to use up an extra space or two during the busiest time of the year. Thanks, guys.
Which brings us to the oh-so-special ten-speed racing bike divas. We paid five million dollars for our bike paths on this island, your lordships – so use them. I know, you’re too good, too cool in your rainbow spandex and toe clips, too far above the lowly three speed family excursionists and the kids with the training wheels. You deserve to share the road with the cars. Except, sorry, but you don’t. You block traffic, you’re a danger to yourself and others, and your smug Tour-de-France attitude just makes you look like clowns. Get over yourselves and use the bike path – or we may start drug testing you.
The worst offenders are the parents with their double wide baby carriages who refuse to use the sidewalks. They’re called sidewalks, super-Mom. Let’s parse that. They’re located on the side of the road for people walking. That would be you. What’s the problem? Do the brick sidewalks disturb your baby’s beauty sleep? He’ll live. I heard one toddler calling his mom from inside one of those deluxe canopied rickshaws, on his cellphone. Every toddler should have a cellphone – and its so hard to text when you’re rolling over the bricks. If I have to sit in one more line of cars on Union Street, backed halfway up to the duck pond because of some oblivious parent with a baby carriage … I’ll just roll up the windows, turn on the air conditioner and listen to someone on the radio talking about the delights of a Nantucket summer.
Which will make me no different than the idior who ruined my lunch a few days ago at the little turn-out near the Island Home. It’s one of the few peaceful spots mid-island, with a lovely view of the marsh and the harbor. The air was mild and silky, but this guy in his giant truck wouldn’t know that, because his windows were rolled up and the air-conditioning was on, cheating himself of the true beauty of the day and treating us to a dose of fumes and engine noise worthy of the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
It’s enough to make you flee back to the Bronx. At least in a real city you can see more than one movie and buy a decent bagel. The moving violators of Nantucket should make boat reservations, jump in their SUVs, get out of here and give it a try. We’ll come down to the boat and throw confetti, as if they were leaving on the QE II. I know, that’s not going to happen. And it’s okay – they’ll all be gone after Labor Day. That’s only five weeks from now.
But this year more than any year I can remember, I’ll be counting down the seconds. 

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