Friday, July 15, 2011

I can't drive 55....on the 405 (at least, not this weekend)

So it's Friday, July 15th...I just found out the 405 will be closed this weekend.


No...not really.  I think I actually marked it on the calendar at least a month ago.  But you know that somehow, somewhere, every news station in town will find the ONE PERSON that magically "didn't know" about the closure this weekend and then proceeds to vent vehemently about all of the problems with LA traffic.  It is my opinion that news crews should be allowed to carry taser guns this weekend so that when they encounter this particular brand of nut job, they can taze 'em live on camera.  Now THAT I would tune in for.

I have to admit that LA traffic is a rather interesting vehicular ocean.  And I use that term quite seriously because, truthfully, it is a fluid, ebbing and flowing, totally reactive to outside influences type of mass.  There really is no logic to why it does what it does.  I actually was quite terrified of driving in LA when I first got here; I avoided the freeways whenever possible.  What affected me most was the sheer number of vehicles on the road more so than how people drove.  There just always seemed to be someone around you at all times; and that was quite a change for me.  Now don't get me wrong, other cities have their fair share of traffic snarls - but I guess what really got me about LA was the realization the one freeway I was at a dead stop and surrounded on was just one out of  20 different freeways in and around the city.  And it doesn't matter what time of day it is - you can hit the 405 at...what...3:16am on a random Tuesday morning?   And there they are...hundreds and hundreds of cars all zipping along; going somewhere.  Some are going to work...some home from work...the rest...who knows (just don't ask how I know they're all out there at 3am).  Amazing.

But I enjoy driving - always have.  I have a little convertible; so it's fun to just pull the top off, crank the stereo and go zipping along at 5, 10 miles an hour....sometimes 20.  But I have to say that the price of gas has bummed me out.  So recently I garaged the car and now travel via public transportation.  Really.  And I have to tell you; I've had quite a few brilliant epiphanies recently.  For example:  bus riding is a great equalizer (I used to say this about the Trolley in San Diego - but it holds true for bus as well).  You can be in a 3 piece Armani suit or a housecoat and slippers.  Doesn't matter.  You're all riding the same bus getting somewhere.  Stand, sit, listen to music, read or people watch; it's almost a class-free type of society.  Communism probably could've learned a few things from mass transit.  Meanwhile, what is the compulsion people have to hit the crosswalk button 15-20 times?  I think local traffic management offices could make this more amusing - rig up the button so that after two consecutive smacks you get a nice, charming 15,000 amp shock.  Another interesting observation...why I am seeing more and more people driving around with earbuds in both ears?  Did the car manufacturers stop installing stereos in vehicles?   I mean, these don't look like cell phone hands-free types of dealios - I think people are plugged into their mobile musical devices and jammin' out.  That just just seems unsafe to me and I don't think I could pull it off. I mean - I never notice the blue and red flashy lights on that nice police car signaling for me to pull over in my rear view mirror.  I have to hear the "YOU!!  IN THE SILVER CAR!!  PULL OVER NOW!!" coming out of the loud speaker...and then I realize I've been doing 50 in a 30.  And see, I would never hear that with Def Leppard blasting thru the ear buds.  So what would've started out as nice simple traffic stop, would then become the world's second longest, slow-speed car chase on the Los Angeles freeway system - minus Al Cowlings. 

I'll just have to be sure to stay away from the 405.  Could've swore I heard something on the news about it being closed this weekend.