You may have an image of Connecticut in your mind. It likely includes manicured lawns, large estates and an enormous amount of khaki.
But Connecticut isn’t as buttoned down as you probably think it is. In fact, we were shocked at the state’s wild west, lawless attitude.
Take bus stops, for instance. There don’t appear to be any. In New York, there are well-marked areas where you stand and wait, sometimes for hours, for a bus to come along. But at least you know where to wait for hours.
Now I’ll see people standing at seemingly random points on the side of Long Ridge Road, which is the main thoroughfare to our house, and the Stamford buses will stop and pick them up. There are no markings or signs of any kind, at least not that I can see, although perhaps there is a secret Connecticut code to which I am not yet privy. I mean, can you just hail a bus any old place? Is there a certain article of clothing you have to wear so the bus driver knows you’re waiting for a ride, as opposed to, say, scouting locations for a roadside lemonade stand?
And wait until you hear about recycling! For years, we’ve been diligently separating plastic from paper, metal from glass, whites from colors (no, wait, that’s laundry). And there were different kinds of plastic, and different kinds of paper and even while we were organizing all these different kinds of disposable things, we had the feeling that the town was just messing with us and that they threw it all into one big bin after they picked it up.
But Stamford doesn’t play those games, no sirree. Here, the town gives you one bin, and you throw everything into it, and you roll it down to the end of your driveway, and they empty it every Tuesday. This, according to the city web site, is called “single stream recycling,” so called because they can process everything at once. Or maybe they just dump it all into a single stream somewhere, probably across the New York border.
Even the car dealers here are laid back. My daughter Casey’s car got totaled right before we moved, and we had to buy a used car quickly. We went to a Stamford dealer to test-drive one and he just gave us the keys. “Bring it back when you’re done,” he said. “You’re not coming with us?” I asked, incredulous. “Nah, you look like nice people,” was the reply. We could have driven off and never come back! But once we drove it awhile, I figured the guy was afraid to come with us. Besides, on those brakes, we couldn’t have gotten very far.
But here’s the thing: months later, when Barbara and I were shopping for a new car, they let us take one of those! I mean, don’t cars get stolen in Connecticut? Or is grand theft auto beneath us Nutmeggers?
I guess we’ll just have to get used to this easy-going Connecticut way of doing things, and just relax with a Tom Collins after a spirited round of croquet.
True, we don’t know how to play croquet, but they probably don’t have rules here anyway.