I never liked the way the maniacs on the East Coast drove. Especially New Englanders. Honestly, any time I took the green line on the T to downtown Boston and got off at Boylston Street I said three Hail Marys in the hope that I didn’t get killed trying to cross the street. You think I’m exaggerating? Go see Ben Affleck’s new movie, The Town, and tell me with a straight face that his portrayal of the way Bostonians drive is untrue.
Okay, fine. Maybe I am exaggerating. But, what I’m about to tell you is absolutely true. You have never seen traffic unless you’ve been to Los Angeles. I mean it. I’m not going to complain—like so many people who visit L.A. do. I only want to let you know that I have never seen so many cars packed into so many lanes in my life. Every street form—highway, byway, side-street—seems to have more than one lane. You would think that the plethora of lanes would lead to some wide-open roads once in a while. Not true.
I’m a firm believer in the notion that if you want to get somewhere on time consistently you must always leave earlier than you think. In L.A. this is especially true. There are so many cars on the street. People jog places, but for some reason no one wants to walk any length further than two blocks. Honestly. As an intern, I’ve been asked to go pick things up that are under a mile away. When I say, “Oh that’s close I’ll just walk.” My supervisors just snicker and say, “Don’t worry… we’ll pay for gas!”
I don’t think people know that there are other means of transportation besides a personal automobile. The thought of using public transportation disgusts most people around here—and there’s good reason for that. Who wants to take a bus the size of a small blimp in traffic as tight as when people evacuate huge cities in disaster movies?
The only place I’ve been in the L.A. area that has found a loophole to the whole “Only way to get around equals car” rule is the University of Southern California. The USC students—Trojans, if you will—ride around bicycles they affectionately call “Beach Cruisers.” The coast is a good ten miles away from USC, but the students ride their bikes like they’re on the beach. They’re so lax on their bikes that I almost hit three bicyclists when I visited my sister a couple of weekends ago. Needless to say, I wondered if Trojans are as safe as people attest.
I really don’t mind the traffic that much. I might be pushing 22, but I’m still young. I don’t need to let something as stupid as traffic ruin my day. The only bad part about driving around here is that the radio stations are subpar. Get an iTrip cord, you say. I don’t want to. I like the unpredictability of a good radio station. I don’t like the predictable unpredictability of a bad radio station. In other words I don’t want to hear a great song like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” one moment and a dud like “Wind Beneath My Wings” the next.
Perhaps I should just buy a beach cruiser.