Tales of the ridiculous, part 1

This is my favorite news story of the day.  Dracut Mom in labor with baby number two gets ticket from grumpy cop because baby’s Dad was cruising in the breakdown lane.  (Check out Erica Noonan’s Globe blog on BoMoms for reader commentary — it was this post that alerted me to this article).

I love Massachusetts, my adopted home for the past decade or so.  Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another story beats the last one in its reporting of the ridiculous.  The longer I live here, the more I’m convinced that it’s the center of the WTF universe, especially when it comes to traffic topics.

I mean, this is the state which has more rotaries per mile than any other, yet drivers here don’t know how to navigate them lawfully.  My Connecticut driver’s handbook reminds me that one should yield to rotary traffic.  Translation: stop if another car is coming around the circle.  Massachusetts translation:  speed up immediately upon viewing an oncoming car, especially if it’s a Yankees fan.

Breakdown lanes?  Where I live, just south of Boston, a breakdown lane is deemed usable during commuter hours in the morning and late afternoon, presumably to alleviate traffic congestion.  Naturally this means that inspired drivers use it as a passing lane all the time.  My advice: Car trouble on Route 3, exit immediately.  Don’t stop.  Especially if you are a Yankees fan.

Perhaps that’s what this dad thought, that he was on a different road, one which allowed breakdown lane use.  Or he was understandably panicked — his wife’s contractions were 3 minutes apart.  Baby was on its way (though as it turned out, baby did not come for another 5 hours, so like a baby to be unpredictable).

Here’s the thing, though.  This couple lived in Dracut, 30 miles away from their chosen hospital, where they’d birthed their first child.  I totally understand wanting to be in a place you had a great experience in, especially for such a profound event.  You trust the doctors, the nurses, the skill and compassion of the entire staff.

But 30 miles?  Outside of Boston?  Come on.  On an easy day that’s still a half-hour drive.  As we used to say in middle school, duh.

I gave birth to my first two babies in Boston, but we lived about 8 miles out.  (Ellie was born in Connecticut, bless her.)  Number four came when we lived down here, 45 minutes away from our cherished Boston hospital.  But we knew what we faced — laboring in a car up congested Route 3 in rush hour traffic?  No way, even if we could use the breakdown lane.  So we picked a site a mere 10 minutes away, and it was fine.  Even better than fine, perhaps.  So there was no Au Bon Pain in the lobby.  We got over it, when the care was superb.

Maybe the cop should’ve been kinder.  In fact, I know he should have been, because no matter how stupid a pregnant mom’s choice seems to be, it remains her choice.    A baby was coming.  She didn’t need a 10-minute wait while Officer McGruff wrote up a citation.

Ridiculous?  You betcha.  The only thing missing was a revelation that the baby’s Dad is a Yankees fan (I don’t know if he is or not, but wouldn’t that be perfect?).   I love this state.


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