Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here's The Thing

I spend 2 and a half to 3 hours a day in my car. That's life in L.A.

I'm telling you this so that January 2nd, when you watch the Rose Parade on TV and notice that it's 75 degrees in L.A, and the only snow to be seen is on the distant peak of Mt. Baldy, you aren't tempted to pack up and move here. As if I need another car in the lane in front of me.

But if you do, please remember that we do not suffer novice drivers here. The only unforgiveable sin in L.A. is fucking up traffic, but there are a few other bad habits you must break before you venture onto the mean streets here.

First off - don't use your horn. Only Westsiders use their horns, and that's because they're not from L.A. and don't belong here.

Second - merge means every other car goes in turn. Every other car. One from your lane, one from the lane next to you, then another from your lane. Got it? It ain't rocket science.

Third - learn appropriate Space Proxemics. One and a half car lengths is enough at any speed up to 45. Any faster, and you can give yourself several car lengths of cushion. No more. Here's a hint - if five cars jump in front of you every block, you're missing every light, and the driver behind you is getting increasingly aggressive, close up the damn gap! And BTW, the sensors for the traffic lights are embedded in the asphalt right near the crosswalk, (those are what those big circles on the ground are) so pull your damn car all the way up to the line. You do not need two car lengths between you and the intersection. If the lights have cycled three times, but you have not gotten a green, and the line of cars behind you stretches a mile, roll up over the sensor. Thank you.

Fourth - if you're Physics-ly challenged, here's a clue - I can not drive faster than the car in front of me. If I accelerate, traffic in front of me will not magically speed up too. So sitting on my rear bumper and throwing your hands in the air as we miss every light isn't going to do you any good. I'm stuck behind the person driving too slow, or we're all stuck in heavy traffic and no one is going anywhere fast. Grow up and live with it. Either that, or use the potty before you leave home.

Fifth - leave your Puritan morality behind. Oh I know - you're going to to teach us all a lesson. 55 is the upper limit of speed. You can go less than that speed if you want to, and to prove it, you're going to sit in the fast lane doing 50. Hah! King of the World! Those of us stuck in the lane behind you took a vote. You're the Grand Marshall of the next Prig Parade. Remember, when you wave, it's sweeping elbow, elbow, and then turn wrist, wrist, wrist. Go home and practice it right now.

Sixth - don't be Passer-Agressive. These are almost always men. Even though there is a mile of empty lane behind me, this guy always has to shoe-horn his way into the tiny space between me and the car ahead. Congratulations Sir, you are now one car-length closer to your goal of becoming a total dick.
The second type drives along at varying speeds. You can almost hear him singing "la-la-la" as he searches like the Flying Dutchman for some elusive address. After following behind him for five blocks, as his speed steadily decreases to 15mph, I give up and try to pass. This is evidently the final straw in his life. It's personal now. Passing him is a direct challenge to his ED manhood. So he hits the gas. Fine, if he'll drive that speed, I'll be happy behind him. I slow down. So does he. I speed up. So does he. Because I betrayed him, he will never, ever, allow me back into "his lane." Sir, this isn't personal. I just want to get to work. Sometime today would be nice.

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