Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Traffic in LA really THAT bad?

Before I left, I had one hundred identical conversations about it.

"So what are you doing this summer?"
      "I have an internship in L.A!"
"Oh cool...lots of traffic."
    "Eh, I'm sure I'll be fine."

Regardless of if that person had been to L.A. or not, he or she knew the condemning rumor, and  presented it to me with the same air of authority found in every city-summarizing statement.

New York: It's cool....sooo big.
Chicago: The weather there kinda sucks...huh?
Evanston: Oh...I hear that town hates you.

I think like everyone else who comes to this city...which by my everyone (In ten weeks, I have yet to meet ANYONE originally from L.A.), I was originally optimistic.  Surely if it was as horrendous as predicted, no one would live there at all, right?

Authors often liken a road to a ribbon. To borrow the motif, driving in L.A. is like driving on a fraying ribbon, caught savagely in the teeth of a sewing machine from the industrial revolution.  I expected the first week to fly by in a rush of novelty, but it dragged on, caught on the pavement for 2-3 hours a day.

The main fact is that traffic is relentless.  I drove 44 miles from my Aunt's in Newport Beach to Westwood, and the trip took me two hours, bumper to bumper with no reprieve, and that's the highway:  Six lanes across, few fortunate people going twice as fast in the diamond-spotted "CARPOOL LANE," while the rest of us solitary suckers switch lanes at a moment's notice, trying to jump into a lane showing ANY signs of movement.  There is literally nothing that makes me sadder than being at a complete stop for over a minute on a freeway where the posted speed-limit is 65 mph.  I reach this depth of sadness daily.


On regular streets, I assume it's much like regular city driving, the right lanes clogged as people try to turn where pedestrians meander, the left lanes backed up for streets waiting for one car to find a moment's pause to turn.  
One time, while Katie and I were "driving" somewhere, she commented on how surprised she was that motorcyclists were legally able to drive between the lanes here, a streak of black in between the lines of cars.  You can almost hear them laughing at you as they blitz by.....I responded that I didn't think it WAS legal, but who the hell could blame them?  It's just about the only way to escape the system.  

The traffic has really taught me about myself.   I have one gesture that I use countlessly in response to something obnoxious, throwing up my right arm in the air, then banging it back down on the wheel.  I have decided, that if by some strange circuitous path I wind up being the President of LA's Department of Transportation (who knows?), my first order of business will be commissioning a series of signs at the end of the right side merging lane where people always try to get ahead of the rest of us who have already merged reading: "You're a piece of shit -LADOT."

I think the key to not just surviving, but to thriving in L.A. traffic is have things to do...goals for the day.  Often times, I write raps, practice my Spanish or work on possible audition songs.  Sometimes I give myself a "contemplation drive" where I have the radio off, the AC on, and I just think for the whole hour it takes me to drive home from work.  I've checked out a book on tape to indulge in, but I haven't been able to get it from the library, because the hours are, ridiculously, from 11-4.  

So I guess to answer the question, is LA traffic really as bad as people think it is?  The answer is yes.  Is it survivable? yes....but I should also mention that Katie and I are planning on going to New York next summer.....


1 comment:

  1. 1. I made friends with two people who are originally from LA! ...But one of them has a movie star dad. I'll tell you more later.
    2. "caught savagely in the teeth of a sewing machine from the industrial revolution" A+
    3. This confirms that I would never survive in LA. My attention span is too short.
    4. Your productivity... even while stuck in traffic... is admirable.
    5. I PLAN TO BE IN NY NEXT SUMMER TOO. We'll talk upon our reunion (so soon!!!!)
    6. Laura blogs are my favorite blogs.
    7. Lucky number 7. The end.