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A guide to living in the county


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Published on: Thursday, December 05, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

I want to thank the man driving in the Ford 150 pickup on Middle Lane Monday at lunchtime for inspiring me to write this column.

This older, balding white male in a dark blue pickup with license number . . . oh I’ll skip that part . . . actually stopped his truck as me, my 21-year-old son and two other people walked in the crosswalk in front of a noodle restaurant. In the left lane a bus had stopped for us to cross, but this man came skidding to a halt in his behemoth of a truck and began berating us – pedestrians – “for walking at will.”

You can’t make this stuff up. He told us that just because we were in a crosswalk we didn’t have the right to walk across the street. When I informed him that’s exactly what it meant, he got very angry. Before fisticuffs could ensue, he sped off screaming and yelling. So for this frumpy Mr. Wilson type (Dennis the Menace reference intended) I happily provide – as a Christmas present – my abbreviated list of “How to live life in Montgomery County”:

To begin, pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk. Please do not hit them, run over them or threaten them. While we’re on the subject of cars and traffic the left lane is for passing only unless it has those funny diamonds which means it’s a high occupancy lane – so stay out of it unless you’re passing or have more than one passenger in your car. The center lanes are for through traffic and the right lane is for slower traffic. There is no lane specifically designated for eating, texting, reading your Kindle or sleeping. Please pull off the highway if you feel the need to do anything other than drive.

If you’re a teacher in Montgomery County then please refrain from having inappropriate relations with your students. This includes a wide variety of unacceptable events which should be precluded from mention in a family newspaper.

It is appropriate to express thanks to waiters, waitresses and your neighbors. It is not a sign of weakness to say “Hello”, or “Hi,” to people you meet on the street.

While it is acceptable to celebrate any holiday you wish, it is not acceptable to get angry if someone says “Happy Kwanza,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or “Merry Christmas,” to you and you don’t actually celebrate that holiday. Nod and smile and understand someone is actually wishing you well.

While you may be upset with the bag tax, the rain tax and every other new tax and tax increase in Montgomery County, it isn’t acceptable to act as if you’re a victim. After all, you voted for the people you’re now angry with – so perhaps you should vote someone else into office.

While football is a fun sport, it isn’t life and high school students are not professional athletes. Please act accordingly.

Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they are the devil incarnate. This goes for sports, politics, religions and matters involving traffic and food purchases.

Never, ever, under any circumstance refer to nightlife in Montgomery County as “fun.”

Just because you’re eating at a restaurant with an ethnic name does not mean you are enjoying authentic ethnic food.

“Smart growth” is an archaic term used by politicians and developers. For the average resident it is an oxymoron – neither smart – nor strictly speaking does it describe the growth of the population in Montgomery County.

When you have a league, team or an organized group interested in using ball fields in the county, please get a permit. It isn’t appropriate to squat or abuse the rights of others who have obtained permits.

Just because it rains doesn’t mean you have to drive so slow comatose grandmothers will outrun you on foot.

“Frankenfish” is just a bad movie and has nothing to do with the real snakehead fish population. They aren’t out to get you.

Whenever possible refrain from freaking out when you see three helicopters flying overhead. It’s just the President on his way to Camp David. It isn’t necessarily the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Which brings up a big point: Though Fort Detrick is north of us and the National Institute of Health is south of us, there is no such thing as Zombies – except maybe in county and state government.

Finally the National Institute of Standards and Technology is not ground zero for a time travel device, the Star Gate or inter-dimensional travel.

While there are many other need-to-know items for survival in the heady land of Montgomery County, this should cover the basics. Please drive safely and have a nice afternoon.

The food is great, the nightlife is tepid and the traffic is unbearable. But on the upside the parks are enjoyable and there’s always the fishing.

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