Don't Let Bostonians Plan Your Road Trip

Ian Hardin, Athens, Georgia sent the following letter (response sent from

Several years of off and on listening to you two has convinced me that Bostonians know less about the rest of the country than any other group I have encountered. I ran across two articles in my file that I had meant to send you.

Both appeared in the "Newscripts" column by K.M. Reese in Chemical and Engineering News. The first mentioned a note from Thomas Varberg of St. Paul, Minnesota about a poll he conducted during his five years of graduate study in Boston. He asked the question: "If you were driving from New York to Los Angeles and had gotten as far as Pittsburgh, what percentage of your trip would you have completed?"

Varberg found that westerners and midwesterners usually guessed something near the correct value, 13 percent. People raised east of the Appalachinas, however, invariably gave estimates in the range of 20 to 30 percent. And some native Bostonians guessed as high as 35 percent. The second story was from a reader of the column who told about an incident that occurred during his college days in Boston in the early 1940's.

A fellow student, he says, had for many weeks been excitedly planning a motor trip to California. When finally asked what route he was taking, the chap answered, "Oh, through Waltham, I guess". Nuff said!!

[ As Read on Car Talk ]