Lesson #99: Make Lemonade, Avoid Lava

traffic map of la

Dear Blue and Wheels,

An LA-based traffic reporter has the easiest job in the world. They come on the radio all the time, and every time, they report the same exact traffic on the same exact freeways. All you would have to do to have that job is just say every freeway in the area, and then say “Yes” after each one. That’s the traffic report every day in Los Angeles.

Traffic sucks. I hate it. Hopefully by the time you are all driving, you are not driving because your cars are driving for you. But just in case you do have the opportunity to mindlessly press pedals with your feet and occasionally turn a wheel, I want to impart some wisdom on how to deal with traffic.

This past summer, I had to drive to training every day on the west side. Training was from 8-5, so I had the awesome opportunity to travel through the most congested areas of one of the most congested cities during not one, but two of the most congested times of the day. And I got to do it in my ’96 Honda Accord. Blue, you know this car. It’s “dadda’s car”. You have never set foot in dadda’s car, because dadda’s car does not have A/C. Nor does it have functional door handles on the back doors. It is not long for this world, and your hot wheel collection is probably worth more than dadda’s car right now, Blue.

At the time, it did not have a properly functioning coolant system as well, which meant that in July in Southern California, not only did I get to sit through gridlock for hours every day, I did so while blasting the heat on my face to keep my engine from overheating.

Because I’m clever, I quickly deduced that if I continued to sit in traffic every day, my car would eventually burst into flames. So I studied google maps every day, trying to find the golden route, the one route that would allow me to get across Los Angeles in under an hour while keeping my car from giving itself a Viking burial. As I came to find out, it’s virtually impossible to get from the west side to the east side of LA in under an hour. At 5, every street in every direction is a wall of red.

In its own unique and gut wrenching way, this become something I looked forward to every day. I pretended the red streets were lava and tried to avoid as much as possible. The best route took me across Venice, up Alvarado, but then offshooting on a tiny sidestreet just before Sunset to avoid the crush of traffic merging from Glendale to get on the 2. From Sunset, I hung a left on Portia St, climbed up the hill to Stadium Way, wrapped around Dodger stadium, and then hopped on the 110 until I got to South Pasadena. From there, I took Huntington all the way.

It wasn’t the fastest route, but it did have a lot of green and by going through Silver Lake and San Marino, I was able to avoid sketchy areas to break down in. That was key.

My point is, Blue and Wheels, if there is a point to this rant, is that it’s imperative that you find ways to entertain yourself in traffic. If you can’t do that, then I don’t know.

Maybe the proceeds from this blog will be able to fund you a chauffeur. Compound interest and all.



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