How can you tell that you're in Cambridge, Mass., over Labor Day weekend with the start of classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology only days away? For one thing, the streets teem with furniture-filled rental vans. Despite also carrying future physicists, these vehicles attempt to violate physical law by occupying the same space at the same time. On the other hand, a few drivers actually stop for red lights, which proves that they are not from the Boston area and are merely passing through to drop off freshmen.
How do you know this is erudite Cambridge, also home to Lesley University, Cambridge College, the main headquarters of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University and Richdale A-Z Auto Service? Some checkout aisles in local supermarkets feature grammatically correct "10 Items or Fewer" signs instead of the commonly seen "10 Items or Less" notice. (Local folklore has it that anyone in the 10-items lane carrying 20 items is either a Harvard student who can't count or an M.I.T. student who can't read.)
This article was originally published with the title A Bridge Too Far.