Saturday, November 05, 2005

About my hometown...

I live in the south now, but once upon a time I lived in Philadelphia. I was born and grew up there. It's my hometown and I miss it sometimes, especially the food... Where else can you get a fresh pizza, cheesesteak, hoagie or take-out Chinese at 3 AM? But I'd never live there again. I love it here in the south. But Philadelphia is a pretty cool city as far as cities go. It holds the distinct honor of having the very first penitentiary in the United Sates and it happens to be haunted is a big plus, and continuing with the supernatural, it is the only city in the world where all four corners of an intersection is taken up by a cemetery, that too is allegedly haunted. It's at the intersection of Frankford Avenue & Cheltenham Avenue and the cemetery in Cedar Hill.

So, besides that stuff, it's got all the bells and whistles of the city that is the birthplace of our great nation, the Liberty Bell (Ha!) Independence Hall, the first post office, the first Fire Department...

So I highly recommend visiting one day. It's a fun town but there are things you must know. Drivers in Philadelphia drive just a little bit different than anywhere else so I've compiled this list to the possible dangers and pitfalls of driving in the City of Brotherly Love.


The 20 Cardinal Rules of Driving in Philadelphia...

1) A right lane construction closure is just a game to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same jerks to squeeze their way back in before hitting construction barrels. Bonus points are awarded for getting out of your car and moving the barrels.

2) Turn signals provide clues as to your next move in the road battle, so never use them.

3)Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, no matter how fast you're going. If you do, the space will be filled in by somebody else, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

4) The faster you drive through a red light, the less your chance of getting hit.

5) The car with the most extensive body work automatically has the right of way (remember no-fault insurance - he might not have as much to lose as you do)

6) Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible, to insure that your antilock braking system kicks in; this will give you a nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates.

7) Construction signs are carefully positioned to tell you about road closures immediately after you pass the last opportunity to exit, but just before the traffic begins to back up.

8) The electronic traffic warning system signs are not there to provide useful information, but just to tell time and make Philly look progressive.

9) Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to scare people entering the highway. Passing on the shoulder is encouraged - that's why they're paved.

10) Speed limits are arbitrary figures to make Philly look as if it conforms with other state policies; these are intended only as suggestions and are actually unenforceable.

11) Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn't mean that a driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot.

12) Please remember that there is no such thing as a shortcut during rush-hour traffic on the Schuylkill or anywhere downtown.

13) Always slow down and rubberneck when you see an accident or even a person changing a tire. If you're lucky, you may see the unlucky breakdown victim get mugged.

14) Learn to swerve abruptly. Downtown Philly is the home of very high-speed slalom driving, thanks to The Department of Streets, who put potholes in key locations to test drivers' reflexes and keep them on their toes. Parts of truck tires are left on new highways (where potholes haven't yet been established) for the same purpose.

15) It is considered correct in Philly to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant the light changes. Our city is founded upon such traditions.

16) Seeking eye contact with another driver automatically revokes your right of way.

17) When in doubt, remember that all unmarked exits lead to New Jersey. (It's free to enter New Jersey, but it's well worth the $2 toll to get out)

18) It's OK to back up along the shoulder of the road if you missed your exit, particularly if it is the Schuylkill or I-95. This gives the other drivers a more challenging "moving target" rather than those stationary barrels.

19) It's not necessary to move out of the way of emergency or police vehicles because, well you know. There's no real emergency. It's just that the next half hour at Dunkin' Donuts the coffee and donuts are half price. But please move all the way over to the right and let all "Pizza City" delivery vehicles pass. Somewhere in the city someone is Jonseing for a pizza and a stromboli.

20) The Philadelphia Department of Streets has two divisions. The "Pothole Div." and the "Bump Div." (See rule number 14) The pothole div. and bump div. work hand in hand in almost ballet-like coordination. They rotate every six months, the pothole div. Leaves potholes in strategic locations throughout the metropolitan area, followed six months later by the bump div., which overfills the potholes with too much asphalt leaving a bump, again to test the reflexes and the adaptability of the area's drivers.

Well, I hope that helps some and I hope you enjoy your next stay in my hometown. Just do one thing though, please do not ask where the soft-pretzel vendor you just bought that tasty local treat from where he uses the restroom... You really don't want to know.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

6 comments:

Kat_womanx2 said...

ha ha ha ha ha...ha ha ha ha ha...you are sooooooo right on this one!!

Airforce Guy said...

u taugh me 2 drive Tommy ha!

Bev said...

This makes me never want to visit Philly. Ever.

Becky said...

Sad, but true! :)

Kev said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa! I take a train through your old precinct every day. You worked in that slime-hole for how many years, and then you have the nerve to dog New Jersey? The hubcaps get stolen off cop cars during stakeouts in that precinct. My first apartment in Philly (in a different precinct) shared a wall with a police station. There were crack viles on the sidewalk.

Granted, we've got Camden. But Philly has three different Camdens inside it's city limits (South Philly, West Philly, and (shudder) North Philly).

You don't pay toll leaving the city because they're assuming any cash you had while in the city was already stolen from you.

Ranger Tom said...

Kev! Calm down! Sheesh, I'm only joking... Besides my entire mother's side of my family is from New Jersey... My grandfather was the Fire Chief of Camden... And if you notice I only intimated one little thing about Jersey and dogged Philly throughout the whole thing... There's worse places I know... And yep, you know of what distric I worked out of. Lovely area, aint it? It didn't get the nickname "The Badlands" because of a Bruce Springsteen song, that's for sure. I likened it to Beruit, but Beruit still has some class...