East coast drivers are the f*****g worst. I just spent the last three weeks driving all over the country (from Princeton to Boston to Saratoga Springs ~flew~ to Madison drove to Neenah to Ann Arbor to St. Catherines, back to Saratoga Springs to Bronxville to Bridgeport and back to Princeton if you were wondering), so I know.
In the midwest, if you need to get into another lane, people will move over for you. They will wave you across the street, they will gesture at you nicely at a four way stop, they will go respectfully above the speed limit.
On the east coast, they don’t give a single sh*t. Not even if you have Wisconsin plates and a single strapped to the top of your car, no way. They will still refuse to let you into the left lane when the right lane is ending (especially if you’re driving a white Escalade with Vineyard Vines stickers, you asshole). They will have no problems passing you at 100 mph. They will run you down if you don’t get out of the way.
It’s weird because got the vibe that there’s a stigma about driving in the right lane on east coast highways. It’s like people don’t want to admit that they’re a slow driver. They always want to be in the fast lane, expediting their trip, getting ahead of everyone else. In a very similar way, that’s how the sport of rowing is. Rowers do everything they can to get ahead and stay ahead on the water.
I had plenty of time to think during my drives in the last few weeks. I had to decide whether to row at ARION in Saratoga Springs, like I intended to at the beginning of the summer, or alter the plan and accept an invite to row at the Princeton Training Center with the national team.
One of the main reasons that I hadn’t tried to pursue going to the Training Center when I was deciding what I would do post-grad was because I knew I would be one of, if not the slowest person there. I’m a realist. I know my place. It only took 2 days of training there to make it very clear to me where I am.
On the other hand, one of the main reasons that I ultimately chose to go to Princeton was because I would be the slowest person there. I would constantly be pushed outside of my comfort zone and will eventually be faster because of it.
Driving on the east coast, I have spent a lot of time in the right lane. I’m not ashamed to be driving the speed limit with a car filled with everything I own and a boat strapped to the top. Slower traffic should keep right. I should expect people to be passing me. It pissed me off at first, but I eventually became zen about it.
I’m channeling what I’ve learned on the road to the water: I know other rowers are going to be passing me at speed during practice. I know that I’m not a very fast single sculler yet, but that’s just how it’s going to be. I need to spend time in the right lane before I am ready to join the fast lane. It sucks, but I know that the right lane on the east coast is probably faster than the left lane anywhere else. I’m #blest to be amongst the best rowers in America, I’m looking forward to some hard work, fat ergos and plenty of strokes.