long and winding road

free vector 07Having  traded in the pavement-pounding crowds of New York for the freeway-clogging crowds of LA just about 17 years ago, I have to admit that the whole LA driving scene continues to surprise me. It’s such a big part of life out here that it deserves its own zip code. Maybe 9-0-2-1-0MG.  To wit:

In LA, it’s a matter of pride as to who has the worst freeway commute. “You take the 405? That’s nothing. I have to deal with the 10 — it takes me 2 hours each way. And it’s only 9 miles!” And exactly why would I want to top that?

Angelenos love to argue over who has to deal with the worst intersection. It’s like a badge of honor. (For years, I commuted to work in Brentwood, and I can say, with all confidence, that the intersection of Wilshire and Sepulveda is the worst, bar none; in fact, I think there’s some poor schmuck from back then still waiting to make that left.)

Ask an Angeleno for the cross streets of a specific venue, and you’ll get — I don’t know what. It’s a foreign concept out here. A New Yorker will tell you that something is “on Third between 44th and 45th, east side of the street, about halfway up.” Here you’ll get “on Third Street between Highland and Fairfax across from Starbucks” — except that there are numerous streets (and probably no less than 47 Starbucks) between the two.

LA sports fans are notorious for showing up late to sporting events due to traffic (here’s an idea — how about leaving home earlier to get to the game on time?). Laker game? The seats don’t fill until about ten minutes into the first quarter. Dodger Stadium? We’re talking third inning. And then everyone leaves early to avoid traffic (those pesky freeways and intersections). You wouldn’t even dream of pulling that kind of stuff in Boston or Philly or New York. The fans would boo. And then they’d spill their beer on your head.

Baby, you can drive my car.  Just not in LA.

© 2013 Claudia Grossman

6 comments on “long and winding road

  1. Well said, Claudia. My problem with driving in L.A. is that you don’t get “1 mile to (or 1/2 mile to)” your exit. You just have to be psychic. And yes, NYC is easy to get around in, but oh, my dear, you’ve forgotten us: Third Avenue runs east-west, so there’s no east side of it. Come home, Claudia!

  2. Glad you liked the post, Sharon! And good point about the exit signs. But when it comes to Third Avenue, I’ve got to stick to my original north-south direction. Our offices were on the west side of Third (how long ago was that!).

    • Oops, Claudia, you’re absolutely right. What was I thinking? The fog of old age, I suspect. Maybe my hidden Freudian motive is that I want you to come back because I miss you.

  3. As usual right on target. When I am in LA I constantly ask B. to take side roads like Sepulveda to which he reply’s “it will take so much longer”, and then I proceed to having a nervous breakdown. D

  4. Ah, yet another reason I’m longing to live in California!

    I, too, want to live in my car. Here (in London) I can’t drive – stupid long story, we only have one car (we love it, but it’s a stick shift, and I can’t drive a stick shift, AND I don’t have a UK license because.. I’d better stop or I’ll be telling the long story). I remember reading once, in LA they don’t talk in terms of distance. It’s time. Something is about three hrs from XX, except, how can you factor in traffic time? Does it take the same time at rush hour as 3:00 a.m.?

    btw: the first thing I wrote – the first kind of novel, kind of film, I mean – in my early 20s, was also set in California, and the lead characters were cars. It started in NY, and Max – the protagonist – followed a girl out west. He was based on our 1964 baby blue Ford Fairlane station wagon – ‘blue the colour of sky.’

    I love the way you write. Your pacing. And we think so uncannily alike.

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