Left Turn Hat: Headwear Allows Fortunate Few to Make This Turn

Left Turn Hat cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

Until this year, the most difficult permit to get in the Hamptons was the annual bathhouse and locker permit for Main Beach in East Hampton. The Village only issues 200 of them a year, and they come up for purchase on February 15 and usually within a week are gone. The cost is $350 and the date they become available is not well publicized.

Beginning last year, however, the scarcity of those permits was eclipsed by a newer offering—the Left Turn Hat. Motorists wearing these hats, actually baseball caps, are given the right of way when trying to make left turns. Good throughout the summer, they give wearers the rule of the road whether making a left turn off the Montauk Highway to a side street or making a left turn from a side street onto the Montauk Highway. Not giving way to someone wearing a Left Turn Hat will get you a $200 fine and three points on your driver’s license.

Left Turn Hats, red with the letter L in white on them, went on sale at Hampton Town Hall for the first time last summer at 9 a.m. on June 1, 2015 and were snapped up before the end of the day, mostly by Town employees and other local residents who were alerted to the sale date.

This summer, once again, they went on sale on June 1 at 9 a.m., and we’re told the line was down the block before the doors opened and the hats were all gone—at $400 a pop—before noon.

Carl Blasphemy, a Wall Street hedge fund trader, showed up at 1 p.m. only to find all the hats gone and was outraged.

“After missing out on it last year,” he told us, “I paid a lot of money to be sure I was called on the morning the hats went on sale. When I got the call, I raced over to the helicopter pad at 31st Street, choppered out to the pad on Meadow Lane by noon, got a cab and rushed to Town Hall, and they tell me the hats are all gone.” He said he didn’t know what he would do, but suing Hampton Town was not out of the question.

The history of the Left Turn permission actually dates to the spring of 2014. At that time, on the Monday before Memorial Day, 2,000 pink cardboard permits were printed up and quickly sold—gone in 12 days—for $150 each. Recipients were told to put them in their glove compartments and show them whenever the police approached them after some sort of traffic altercation involving their trying to make a left turn.

As it was pointed out by other motorists involved in these altercations, there was no way of knowing that other motorists had a permit giving them the right of way beforehand. Thus, in the next summer, which was last summer, the permits were printed up as red baseball caps with the letter L in white in the front, and the number of the hat—from 1 to 300—on the back. These caps are easily seen by other motorists. No more excuses.

The hats cannot be duplicated. They contain a two-inch-wide stripe on the brim that is only visible when looked at through Ray-Ban police grade sunglasses. Fabricating and wearing a counterfeit Left Turn Hat this year can get you a $1,000 fine for the first offense and a possible 30 days in jail for a second offense.

Furthermore, the baseball caps from last year won’t do. This year, the caps are white with the letter in red.

Mayor Tom Borderline is proud to claim the new title for the most desired permit on the East End. And he has a message for the Mayor of East Hampton.

“Can you top this?”

And by the way, he doesn’t have one himself, although his wife does, which she paid for fair and square.

Anyway, come September 6, the day after Labor Day weekend, the hats expire. After that, it’s every man for himself until this time next spring.

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