I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost 12 years. The first year, I very quickly adjusted to the concept of “No Winter”, after having spent more than two decades in the erratic climate of the Midwest. Though I will admit I was baffled to see gloves and scarves sold in stores when it was 75 degrees out, I accepted it and moved on with my life. My life of wearing shorts and t-shirts when it’s 80 degrees in January, that is.
People soon told me that I’d get used to the LA traffic, which was like nothing I’d seen before. After a dozen years, I still haven’t adjusted. I’ve learned that no matter how early I leave to get somewhere on time (say, 45 minutes to go 14 miles as I did earlier today), if I don’t leave 15 minutes before that, there’s no chance I’ll make it. Yes, I was 15 minutes late for my appointment today.
Needless to say, this past weekend’s so-called “Car-mageddon” was a complete bust. A typical big budgeted Hollywood blockbuster that was over-hyped which under-performed. For 2 months every local newscast mentioned it. Celebrities were implored by the local government to Tweet about it. People booked weekend trips out of LA to escape the madness, gridlock and tension that was sure to arrive with the 53-hour closing of the 405 freeway.
As you probably know, every Hollywood blockbuster has a big plot twist at the end that shocks the audience. That’s the one thing this weekend had. Of course the big twist was that people actually listened and stayed close to home. The freeways were empty. Surface streets were barren. It was almost like those Midwestern roads I grew up driving on, the pleasant ones that never really have much going on. Except that this was for 2 days.
Unlike most modern Hollywood blockbusters which feel compelled to drag on past the 120 minute mark, despite generally not being necessary to the plot, Car-mageddon ended early. At 11am Sunday, it was announced that the 405 would open 16 hours earlier than planned. Surely, we would be a changed population of great L.A. People would realize that they could stay home and have a good time, or that the 405 was not important to their lives, right? Nope, it’s Monday afternoon and the 405 is back to it’s usual hi-jinks. All backed up, crawling along at 11 miles per hour.
So how did I spend Car-mageddon weekend? My wife and I decided that we weren’t going to let a little construction hold us down. It was a beautiful summer weekend, we said. Should we go to the beach, or the zoo or just drive across the city for fun? So after all was said and done, did I brave the (empty) roads to run around town? Nope, I was home with a sick dog, toddler and wife.
Karma-geddon for me.
--JJ aka The Dude of the House
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