Top Reasons Massachusetts is Different from Maryland

AKA Disconcerting things that will Confuse you for Weeks!

More recent observations upon becoming a Massachusetts resident.

  1. Weather:
    Snow, snow, snow. Everywhere, but not as bad as I feared [at least not yet]. The main difference is that in Maryland, you'll have snow, but invariably the following day it will hit 45 degrees and it will melt within a week. Up here the snow just never melts and sort of accumulates over the entire winter, which apparently lasts until April.

    Another big difference is people don't run to the store to buy up all the milk, bread, and toilet paper when the Weather-news people even mention the word snow. Instead they leisurely go to Blockbuster and rent hundreds of movies.
  2. School "Busses":
    Apparently up here there is a great number of small bus routes. To meet this need, any vehicle can be made an honorary school bus by slapping some red lights and a giant "School Bus" name-tag on it. This can be quite odd, as you'll be driving around and come across station wagons, SUV's, vans, and any other manner of vehicle masquerading as school busses.
  3. Driving:
    I can't say it enough. People up here are insane!!!!! What's more frightening is how quickly you get used to it and start driving the same way.
  4. Attractive Girls in Menial Jobs:
    I was trying to think of a way to phrase this without being insulting, sexist, or both. Often you'll run into extremely attractive and pleasant 20-something women in places you wouldn't expect them. Like working at the front desk of the RMV [Registry of Motor Vehicles]. In Maryland jobs of this sort are invariably staffed [stereotypically] by surly overweight middle-aged women who will frown at you with scorn.

Original observations based on my summer spent near Lowell, MA

  1. Weather:
    What the news-media calls "oppressive heat" is about 10 degrees cooler and 20% less humid than what a seasoned Marylander would call "oppressive." In fact, their "oppressive" days would only qualify as "mildly uncomfortable." I hear, however, that the winters more than make up for this short-fall.
  2. Dunkin Donuts:
    In Massachusetts you can't stumble more than 5 blocks in any direction without running into a Dunkin Donuts. They are everywhere. Coming from a county that has maybe 2, I find this very odd. Even more odd, many are open 24 hours a day. And what is frightening: they always seem to be busy, even at 1am.
  3. Skunks in the Road:
    Before heading North, I can remember maybe twice ever coming across a dead skunk in the road. But this summer, every day in a different place there would be one, accompanied by that horrible odor. Even better is when one gets hit right in front of your apartment.
  4. Getting Lost:
    There are no useful road signs in Massachusetts. Lanes start and end suddenly. There are no merge areas on highways. Roads can be "North" and "South" simultaneously. Apparently much of this is due to something called the Big Dig which involves taking all the state's highway money and using it to bury all of the major roads in Boston underground, leaving no money for useful things like road signs or modern traffic lights.
  5. Driving:
    Massachusetts is the land of crazy drivers. Left turns are made arbitrarily, with no regards for oncoming traffic. People will slow from 65Mph to a stop to let someone out of a parking lot, even if traffic is light. People turning left at a stop light will turn as soon as the light changes, whether they have right-of-way or not. In order to turn right, people will swing left, cutting into the other lane, and then finally make the turn. On the plus side there isn't as much tailgating.
  6. Cement Trucks:
    The way they are designed in Massachusetts makes them long like they are eternally driving backwards, which can be very disconcerting.
  7. Hot Dog Rolls:
    OK, I know these are getting a bit obscure. If you buy hot-dog rolls, they look very strange, like squished loaves of bread. Eventually I found out that what Marylanders would call "normal" hot-dog rolls are referred to as "coney-island style" hot-dog rolls.
  8. Pronunciation:
    No, not the accent. Actually most places there isn't a very obvious accent. What I am talking about is place-names. The secret way of saying "Worcester" is somewhat well-known [hint, it sounds nothing like the Maryland eastern-shore county by the same name], but there are many other strange ones as well. Try saying "Billerica" or "Chelmsford" or "Dracut" or "Quincy" and you'll probably be wrong the first time. Or maybe I am just bad at pronouncing things. Actually besides the above things are fairly pleasant: kots of trees, old buildings, and people who hate the Yankees as much as much as Orioles fans do.