Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Collective Stupidity (Part 1 - The Rant)

by Glenn T (writer), Las Vegas, NV, February 05, 2007


I’d like to think I’m not an angry person by nature, but my behavior in traffic may indicate otherwise. Okay, so I’m a road-rager… but, wait, before you run for cover let me couch that admission in the following facts: 1. I don’t carry a weapon; 2. I like my car enough (read as I still owe enough on it) to not want to put it in any unnecessary peril; 3. I’m almost always in too much of hurry to do anything save obscene gestures – and that’s only when I get really, really angry. So with that being said, let me also say that the traffic situation in Los Angeles really needs its own term, because calling it simply “traffic” is like calling Hurricane Katrina “weather.” What other people (e.g. folks in the “red” states) refer to as “traffic”, we would consider, a “light day”, or the road conditions at 3 am on Tuesday. We’ve got a whole different thing here, and each time I think I’ve finally become acclimated to the traffic situation, something like last Saturday happens to me, and I’m back to square one.

So, it’s Saturday, and I’m headed to the Staples Center for a Clippers game – have to be there by 5 (for reasons too complicated to delve into here), so I leave Santa Monica at 4:15 pm. Now it’s exactly 14 miles from my apartment in Santa Monica to the Staples Center – I looked it up, so why am I leaving with 45 minutes to go? Well, I like to give myself a little extra time for the inevitable traffic that appears around the 10-110 exchange, and the walk from the parking lot to the building… just to be on the safe side. Now, since it’s Saturday afternoon, there’s no “rush hour” to be dealt with, there are no big events happening downtown – save the aforementioned game, which doesn’t start until 7:30. Ah, but wait, it did rain earlier in the day… and by earlier, I mean about 3 hours before I left my place.

When I got to the 10 freeway, it was nearly stopped. To make a long story short, and to forego the many expletives I uttered both to myself and over the phone to my ever-tolerant, patient and understanding friends, I will simply tell you that it took me AN HOUR to make it to Staples. Now, I did the math and it turns out that traveling 14 miles in one hour averages out to about 14 miles per hour. Let me reiterate that for the only marginally interested. I took my car, capable of a comfortable 120 miles per hour, on an EIGHT LANE FREEWAY from the beach to downtown, on a SATURDAY AFTERNOON at an average of FOURTEEN MILES PER HOUR. So, you may wonder, what was the reason for such a traffic meltdown… was it ill-timed construction? Was it a major traffic accident, some terrible tragic loss of life on the highways? Was there some sort of natural disaster? Just some lookee-loo’s slowing down to watch someone get a ticket? No, no, no and no. I’ll tell you what it was. It was CLOUDY. No, it wasn’t raining – it USED to be raining, and on a grooved highway surface like the 10, that makes the roads marginally damp – and certainly not slippery. No, ladies and gentlemen, the POSSIBILITY of rain PARALYZED four lanes of traffic to the tune of FOURTEEN MILES PER HOUR.

My friends tell me, “Well, people in Los Angeles don’t know how to drive in the rain.” And to that I say, “That’s ridiculous.” What we have created, unwittingly, is the greatest collection of stupidity that the world has ever known. Because the reason traffic is so frustrating (at least in the opinion of this humble observer) is because you are absolutely at the mercy of other individuals who may or may not have your level or concern or interest in getting someplace soon. And traffic in Los Angeles, is apparently, being absolutely at the mercy of at least a sizable minority of people who are so fearful of precipitation, that they slow their vehicles to under 15 miles per hour. These people are stupid. There is no other word. Because, I can understand not driving at the standard 75-80 miles per hour that the freeway normally moves at when one sees that road conditions may be less than optimal, but the sort of weather conditions that obviate those speeds are the same sort that will likely precede the Apocalypse. And if you know someone who sees the possibility of rain and a marginally damp road as an emergency condition, you should tell them to: 1. seek professional help; and 2. stay the hell off of the roads.

But there IS an emergency condition in Los Angeles, and it isn’t the rain. It’s the traffic – it’s not an inconvenience, it’s a TRAGEDY; an abomination; it is the Hurricane Katrina of urban planning. And the fact that it occurs in a place where people will pay ten dollars to have someone park their car, just to save the time of looking for parking, is just ridiculous. As this city loses, literally, millions of dollars per day in lost productivity of its workforce, we simply write it off as one of the quirks of living in this otherwise vibrant and beautiful city. We need to call the National Guard – we need an emergency infrastructure set up – we need help NOW. The City of Los Angeles is spending millions on eliminating trans-fats from restaurants … our millions, on TRANS-FATS, and doing nothing, save expanding the bus schedules and adding single lanes to hypercrowded freeways, to alleviate this problem. Something should be done – and while it may take more than an hour long trip to downtown to spur you to action – something will happen to you sooner or later – and don’t dismiss it. It’s not road rage – it’s legitimate frustration with a situation that has gotten WAY out of hand. Because the only time you should be STOPPED on a freeway is when there’s a piece of it missing.

About the Writer

Glenn T is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Collective Stupidity (Part 1 - The Rant)

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By AM Nelson on February 06, 2007 at 11:40 am
After commiting myself to an intense driving singing voice has greatly improved, as have my facial expressions in the vanity mirror. If only XM radio had a minus track station where every driver could be the lead singer (Lets face it, we all drive alone. The days on teenage backup singers in the car are over.)...all the cars could groove together as if in a Coca-cola commercial. Get on that Cal-Trans!
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