Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The drive isn't too terribly bad, it's better in the morning than the afternoon, when traffic gets worse. I take that time to listen to the Dave Glover show on 97.1 Talk FM (he's friggin' hilarious), plan dinner and decompress from work. Poor Ben has such a short drive home that he doesn't get that time to let go of work stuff (and I'm not being sarcastic, I actually feel for him being this close to work).
Well, long story short, I LOVE my job.
Driving in St. Louis...
If you live in St. Louis, you'll understand this. If you've ever visited St. Louis, you'll understand this. If you've never been to St. Louis, consider this your Visitor's Guide to Driving in St. Louis.
1. There are 75 "official neighborhoods" in the City of St. Louis (not to be confused with the County of St. Louis of which it is not a part). In fact, the City of St. Louis not located in any county. It is much like Washington D. C. - in a world all of its own. St. Louisans commonly give directions to strangers (primarily to restauran ts) based on these neighborhoods which are not marked on any map that is handed out by the tourist board, AAA or even available on Mapquest.
2. There are 54 school districts in metro St. Louis on the Missouri side alone. (We prefer not to recognize East St. Louis, IL as being a part of the metro area just as Israelis prefer not to recognize Palestine.) Each of these districts has their own school bus system and scheduled times to block traffic.
3. There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County. Each has its own rules, regulations, courts, and often their own police and fire departments. [Calling 911 for help in an emergency can be a very interesting experience... especially if you don't know in which municipality you're located when someone plows into your car, you have a heart attack, or have been mugged.]
4. More importantly, most municipalities have their own snow removal contracts so it's not uncommon to drive down a road in w inter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.
5. Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis. They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything except on "The Hill" (please refer to #1 above) where each homeowner goes out into the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it. Pull in at your own risk!
6. Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the City of St. Louis is considered a "You Wrench It" parts store.
7. The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than to drive on Manchester Road to cut the traffic on Manchester. Younger St. Louisans consider turning left onto or off of Manchester Road in traffic an extreme sport.
8. Laclede Station Road mysteriously changes names as you cross intersections. The same goes for McCausland, Lindbergh, Watson, Reavis Barracks, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road, Midland, Olive and Clarkson. Gravois Road can only be pronounced correctly by a native St. Louisan - not all mind you, but a few. Ditto for Spoede and Chouteau.
9. A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County and visa versa. West County has everything delivered.
10. No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County! And, if you tell them, they will not believe you.
11. Lindbergh Boulevard (named after Charles, AKA: "Lucky Lindy") belongs to every neighborhood except in the city of Kirkwood, where they had the nerve to change the name to "Kirkwood Road". (The artsy St. Louisans who reside there are known there for their creativity.)
12. There are 2 interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and 2 for Big Bend. Stay alert, people!
1 3. If you need directions to O'Fallon, make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri. This is also true for Troy, Maryville, St. Charles, Springfield, Columbia and. well, need I really go on?
14. The Page Avenue extension and the Airport expansion projects took over 20 years to get approved and St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own idea.
15. St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that our federal highways actually went to cities in other states instead of our local municipalities.
16. Many drivers are starting to cut their OWN license plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get their tags. St. Louisans can also purchase tags from "dealers" behind most QuiKShops in the City. They are a lot cheaper, their clerks are more pleasant than DMV employees, and the service is a lot faster. Cash only. You may want to pack heat.
17. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place.
18. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit. The same thing goes for Highway 70. You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County, East and West in South County, and East and West in North County. Confused? So are most drivers in St. Louis.
19. The outer belt is Highway 270, which turns into Highway 255 in South County. The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is a sorta-kinda outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis).
20. The morning rush hour is from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m. The evening rush hour is from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. unless the Blue's or Card's are playing - then its 3:30 to 8:00 and again from 9:45 to whenever. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning. Never ever try to cross a bridge over the northward flowing Missouri River or the southward flowing Mississippi River in St. Louis during rush hour unless you have a sack lunch and a pee-pee port-a-potty in the car.
21. YIELD signs are for decoration only. No native St. Louisan will ever grasp the concept. And at 4-way stop intersections controlled by stop signs, forget about the idea of taking turns. Cars go through two or three at a time. It takes some getting used to.
22. If someone in St. Louis actually has his or her turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect or has been on for the last 17 miles.
23. Construction on Highways 40, 64, 70, 255, 270, 44, 55 and 170 is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment.
24. U.S. Highway 61 mysteriously disappears as it enters West County and suddenly reappears as it exits South County. Even MO-DOT can't figure this one out. Many think if they ever find it, they'll also find Jimmy Hoffa and Iraq's WMD's.
25. Any blue-haired babe in a Cadillac driving on Olive west of the inner belt (see #19) always has the right of way. But if the Caddie has fins, this territorial limitation does not apply so pay attention. It's dangerous out there!