Thursday, March 24, 2011

The High Cost of the Freeway . . .

I'm learning a lot about the people in California from my commute with them everyday.

For those who live here, that probably just made you shudder. When I tell anyone here that I live in Long beach but I work in LA, they look at me like I'm crazy. I hit the 405 at 5:45am, and head home around 3:30, and it still takes close to two hours to get there. But, I'm finding it an interesting study in psychology.

For myself, I've become a bit of a crazy person, having conversations (or, rater, monologues) with Serenity as we go 15 miles an hour for 10 miles or so at a stretch. I'm glad people in other cars can't tell for certain that I don't have a Bluetooth in my ear; I could just be on the phone, right?

Then, there are the other drivers. I admit, I didn't drive a lot in Chicago; I was usually a passenger. Still, drivers back there aren't nearly as assertive/aggressive as they are here, and with good reason: they don't need to be. Take the logic of the 405: constantly narrowing and widening, if you don't pay attention, you may suddenly be forced to cross three lanes to get to where you need to be, and when it's slow-moving bumper-to-bumper traffic, that can get interesting. But, those people are only one type of driver out there, and probably the minority. There are plenty of others:
- there are the lane-hoppers, who are obsessed with going just a little bit faster, who will get in one lane, then change, then go back, all because one lane appears to be moving just that crucial bit more swiftly than the others.
-there are the just-plain-lazy: the "I need to get off, but I'm going to wait until the absolute last minute to do it" people that with butt into a lane literally feet before it ends.
-there are the "nervous tappers": people who will ride the bumper of the car in front and apply their brakes, at minimum, every three seconds.
-And there are the utter bastards who will start to let you change lanes, leave plenty of room as your turn signal blinks away, and then suddenly speed up to cut you off, forcing you to swerve back into your lane as they zoom past you.

I wish Serenity had a horn that worked; I've tried to use it a few times, but a feeble, tiny beep comes out and it just doesn't seem worth it. Some of these people really deserve something robust.

In a few months I will try to find an apartment in LA; maybe Santa Monica or Culver City, something much closer to my job, and to everything else in general. Until then, I'll keep compiling my research for my psychological paper entitled: "The Care and Feeding of California Freeways, or How the Real Pollution Comes from the Drivers".


A Place At The Table said...

Laughing out loud!! And this is why I live and work in Orange County!!

Steven said...

Interesting, as a California native, born and raised in LA, who moved to the Midwest, everything that you said about LA drivers I say about Chicago drivers :-)
I feel Chicago drivers are much worse than LA. I guess it's a matter of perspective.
Truth is, both places are pretty bad.

Tricia McWhorter said...

I've always hated driving in SoCal. Born and bred in Northern California people just seem to get crazier as I drive further south.

Maggie said...

Holy cow - I know LA traffic is horrible, but that's quite a commute. I'm glad you're being so philosophical about it! DC traffic can be horrific too.

BTW, I started a blogspot as a costume portfolio (my static html site on my costumes was too much of a pain, so I never updated it). If you want to follow me, it's here: