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Marshall’s Law

by Archives October 25, 2006

I think we can all say that driving in Montreal memorable. Adrenaline junkies come from all over the globe for the unique Montreal driving experience. Forget bungee jumping or swimming with sharks, just try navigating Ste. Catherine St. during rush hour. As Montreal drivers, there’s one thing we can be sure of; we’ll be fine to drive around when Armageddon comes. It’s no trouble navigating through brimstone and random horsemen of the Apocalypse, we are already trained to make our way daily between potholes the size of ovens.

One must admit that our status as Canada’s craziest drivers, in my opinion, is something to be a little proud of. We don’t organize parades about it – we’d all just crash into each other if we did – but it’s something that we all know Montrealers have in common. Our driving techniques cannot be matched.

We are taught these techniques very young. We have seen everyone around us use them. For example, a yellow light does not mean “slow down and stop”, it means “hurry up, it’s going to turn red, and you’ll be 27 seconds behind schedule”. And does a solid white line mean we can’t change lanes? I think not. If the driver in front isn’t matching our speed, we can change lanes in the middle of the Ville-Marie tunnel. We all know this. Even though it’s not in our provincial driving exam, it’s insinuated. We can read between the lines, we just can’t drive between them. We work hard to preserve our driving reputation. We try to find new ways to distract ourselves from the tedious routine of driving to and from work or school. In fact, I think we actually believe that paying attention is optional. More than once, I have looked into my rear-view mirror to see the driver behind me talking on his cell phone, while smoking a cigarette! Which leads me to ask; what exactly are you holding the steering wheel with, sir?

I have noticed that many of my fellow drivers simply cannot wait until after they reach their destination to have that important conversation about who wore what to the club last night. What did we do before the cell phone? Did we actually pay attention to the road, stay between the lines and drive at a reasonable speed? No of course not; we’re Montrealers, we never did those things. Who cares about the schmuck giving me the finger because I cut him off without looking, can he not see I’m in the middle of getting my fortune told? Although I think my astrologer should have seen that one coming.

In many states in the U.S., it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving. Who do these lawmakers think they are? They say they are concerned with my safety. What about my right to blab on about The Bachelor while tailgating? They haven’t given me any consideration here.

Some of us might argue that talking on a cell phone while driving shouldn’t be outlawed because it’s just like talking to a passenger. It is. If they’ve got one of your arms hostage, that is. And I don’t remember the last time I needed to press 10 buttons to talk to my passenger. But then again, I haven’t upgraded to the robot kind yet.

If a cell phone ban were to pass, I shudder to think that we might actually have to pay attention while driving. After all, our reputation is on the line here.

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