Baby, sometimes I feel like dying, driving while I’m closing my eyes

Yeah, I’m ranty lately…

I was up this morning dropping my girl off at work#3, in an area of town I’m not that familiar with. I’d take a bullet for this girl, but that doesn’t mean I won’t rant about it afterward ;) Anyway… I don’t mind driving in Boston so much when I know exactly where I’m going, but I really hate going someplace for the first time. Especially on any sort of a deadline. It makes my inner engineer cringe, seeing a needlessly broken system that could easily be, if not fixed outright, improved by one or two orders of magnitude with only minimal effort, but isn’t.

Back home, if you got off onto an unknown street somewhere, they were at least straight and sane enough that you still knew approximately where you were, and could still find your way to where you were going by alternate routes. I know more than one person with a GPS navigational widget in their car, and those things can’t figure it out either. They most often show their virtual car as between two streets, or on the next one over, for as long as something vaguely parallels the one they’re on. “Recalculating…”

All right, so the streets all follow hey-now-brownian-cow paths that wander in circles and intersect themselves (like the way a crystal-growth pattern would look if you could grow crystals out of wet pasta), and there’s not much that can be done about it at this stage of the city’s development. (I’d say ripup-and-retry, but I’ve been in the schematic editor far too long this week.) But are a few street signs too much to ask?

Finished street name signs, even custom one-off novelty ones, run under $17 apiece from commercial vendors. In small joe-blow quantity, 100-mil thickness aluminum stock runs about 18.6 cents per square inch; in any reasonable volume, same could be painted and laminated (even anodized) for relative peanuts.

(All the usual “guys are too embarrassed to ask for directions” cliches aside, it is really fucking embarrassing to have to stop and ask someone, not “where is X street?”, but what street you are currently driving on, after you’ve taken an arbitrary unmarked street because it seemed like the closest mile-match from your last turn according to the crummy directions you’re following, and have now spent the last five miles looking for street signs identifying not only the next turn, but whether this is in fact the right street.) That didn’t happen today, at least (this was actually relatively smooth, and getting from there to my own job took probably less than 15 min.), but it’s happened, at least to me, far too many times.

I suppose it’s theoretically possible that every street was labelled at one time, and random idiots over the years have scaled lightpoles under cover of darkness and stolen them all, but I doubt it: name a street “High Street”, as substance-loving (or hill-loving) city planners love to do, and you can expect to replace it periodically when a flickering lightbulb appears over the heads of a cluster of stoners thinking “Duuude! That would look sooo sweet in my room.” However, most of Boston’s streets don’t have nearly such exciting names (except perhaps the ironically named Park Drive, which was marked), and eventually, the underground market for e.g. Western Ave signage has to reach saturation.


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