Our minivan is moving at a speed indicated by one of those little dashes nestled between the 75 and the 80 on our odometer. Traffic, in general, is fast moving down the small stretch of route 95 in NH. Dirt and I zip past a NH State Police cruiser who was perched on the side of the road, and we both let out an instinctive grumble and immediately check the rear view mirror to see if he was pulling out. He was. Then I spot our insurance policy, a black Mercedes with Mass plates. “Don’t worry”, I confidently assure Dirt. He’s going after the Massy.
Seconds later the cruiser is up behind the Mercedes with his blues flashing and Dirt and I smugly watch them cross over into the breakdown lane. Dirt is giggling, “How did you know?”
Dirt isn’t from New England, he doesn’t know about Massachusetts. The stigmata, if you will.
Growing up on the border of Massachusetts, we learned to blame all crime, violence, pollution, vandalism, traffic, loud mufflers, smog, liter, and any other social problem you could name on the fine residents of Massachusetts. It was what we did.
Massachusetts has a highest crime rate of all the New England states (ranked #40, compared to NH = 51, ME = 47, and VT = 48). Those figures don’t really matter anyway, because deep down we know that even the crime that is committed in NH, ME, & VT comes from Mass residents who have crossed over the border to raid us.
Ironically, both of my parents were born and raised in Massachusetts. My brother and I were both born in Massachusetts hospitals. My husband, mother, and brother all work in Massachusetts, and I work for a company that is headquartered in Massachusetts. I attended the University of Massachusetts and I was living in Boston when I met my beloved Dirt (though I never actually switch my car registration or license over).
Elitism? Probably. Wrong? Yes, on so many levels. But to this day, I have not been able to break free from my disdain for the occupants of almost all vehicles donning Massachusetts license plates. And, I am not alone.
Massachusetts plates also explain every act of roadway indecency and aggression. Last summer we were driving along Route 1 in York behind some kids who threw a soda can out the window, “they’re probably from Mass!” I proclaimed. Dirt corrected me, “they have Maine plates”. "Well, the kid who threw the can out was probably from Mass".
The only people who are exempt from the Massachusetts stigma are:
1) Any professional athlete who plays for a New England team.
2) Our co-workers who live in Massachusetts
3) People who we know and like who live in Massachusetts
4) People who live in Nantucket (they're far enough away from the mainland)
All others are Massholes. But I wonder if they know?
I must admit that sometimes I see my co-worker’s car with her Massachusetts license plate and I feel a little bit sorry for her. She’s too nice to live in Mass, she should be a Maine resident, or a New Hampshire resident. But then again, for all I know, they might think that we're a bunch of tree-hugging, uncivilized, goodie-two-shoes, hicks?