I’ve lived in Los Angeles all of my life. Just like I am accustomed to our great weather, I am also accustomed to our not so great traffic. I very rarely complain about L.A.’s traffic, because like the sunshine, it’s just part of living in Los Angeles and quite frankly, there’s not much you can do about it except for occasional extending of the middle finger to the back of the driver’s head who cut you off and almost made you have an accident.
Well today, I can now confidently say that I know what can send the most mildest tempered person into a state of absolute rage.
Lately my work route has me driving from West Adams into Burbank. I find that it’s much faster to take Highland Avenue north into North Hollywood and eventually onto Barham, than trying to attempt to maneuver the 10, 110, or 5 freeways during the morning rush. All in all, I can usually make it into Burbank in about 30 minutes.
Today was a different story. Today traffic came to a standstill right before Melrose on Highland. At first, I wasn’t immediately alarmed by it. I had my coffee and Coldplay’s Parachutes album playing, so I was cool. I figured there must be an accident of some sort. It wasn’t until I found myself still sitting between Melrose and Santa Monica 25 minutes later that I raised an eyebrow. 30 minutes later when I finally reached Sunset Blvd. little beads of sweat were forming on my forehead from sitting under the sun in 90 degrees. I was becoming increasingly frustrated, as were my fellow drivers who had taken to beating on their horns as if somehow by doing that, the traffic on Highland Avenue would part like the Red Sea and open up so that they could be on their way.
When I ended up sitting at Hollywood Blvd through four red lights with cars on the other side of the intersection at a standstill, I took out my cell phone and call KFWB’s Mobile Phone Enforcer hotline. I figured if anyone knew what was going on, they would. They hadn’t a clue.
By this time, I am ready to take off someone’s head. The wrong move or look would have invoked a cussing out that would have put Bill O’Reilly’s Inside Edition temper tantrum to shame.
Another 30 minutes passed by and I was crawling my way towards the Hollywood Bowl. It’s a good thing that I wore deodorant today, because I definitely put it to the test this morning refusing to run the air conditioner in order to conserve gas. It was bad enough that I had to waste my precious fuel sitting in traffic for over an hour already.
It was around this time that I finally saw the light. You know, the big yellow blinking arrows that indicate that drivers are being merged into one lane. I thought to myself, at least I am already in the left lane so I don’t have to worry about trying to merge into a lane full of frustrated drivers who have no intention whatsoever of braking to let ANYONE get in front of them and make their commute that much longer than it already has been. And I am speaking of those other drivers, that’s not something that I would do, lol.
Something inside of me told me to take out my camera, so I did. As I approached the blinking lights, I began to see Caltran workers on the left and right side of the street. And being that I was at a complete standstill, I started taking photos. When I made it to the front of the Hollywood Bowl’s Highland Avenue parking lot, this is where I had a mental meltdown of gigantic proportions.
The reason that traffic had been backed up for miles wasn’t because of an accident or an emergency, it was because some idiot thought that it was a bright idea to put up a shiny new green freeway sign at the entrance of the 101 North free off Highland Avenue during rush hour traffic. A sign mind you, that said the exact same thing the old sign said in a city and state that is in the middle of a budget crisis.
Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was inhaling exhaust fumes for the past 90 minutes, but when I saw that shiny green sign being prepared to be hoisted up above the street, I completely lost it and took to screaming expletives that shall not be repeated. Arms in the air, screaming at the top of my lungs, I looked at the cars around me and saw that I wasn’t alone in my rage. By the time, I made it past Caltrans I was crying so hard, I thought I was going to have to pull over.
It’s a good thing that I am scared of going to jail because if that threat wasn’t there, I’d have probably tried to destroy that sign while cussing out every Caltrans worker within sight.
This is unacceptable in a city that’s as much known for its weather as it is for its traffic.
First, it’s unacceptable for a city and state that’s balancing a budget on the back’s of its poorest citizen’s to have the audacity to put up shiny new green freeway signs. Unless the 101 Freeway suddenly stopped running north-south over weekend and no longer ended in Port Angeles, Washington via California and Oregon, and as long as no letters were missing from the old sign, that was a colossal waste of taxpayer’s money and time. In addition to wasting our tax dollars and time that we can’t get back for a shiny new green sign, it’s also going to cost those commuters at the pump to refuel their cars from the gas wasted sitting at almost a complete standstill in traffic for 90 plus minutes.
That money would have been better spent on adding crossing guards to dangerous intersections where students cross, fixing any of the hundreds of potholes along Wilshire Boulevard that has claimed many a hubcap, wheel alignment, and tire, or better yet, on putting up another one of those fancy signs along Highland that tells you ahead of time and in real time, if traffic is backed up. Just a thought.
Second, since when did putting up a shiny new green sign take precedence over easing the flow of the traffic? It didn’t. If the city/state wants to put up shiny new green signs, you do it over the weekend or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., before the start of rush hour traffic. What you DON’T do is take unsuspecting commuters by surprise and send them into an uncontrollable fit of anger that only culminates when they finally drive past what’s kept them at 0 to 5 miles per hour for the past 90 minutes in the blazing sun.
Our government shouldn’t be in the business of sending people into the workplace after having gone through traffic nightmares like today’s because it only gets worse from there for the poor unfortunate and unknowing victim or victims who find themselves on the receiving end of their colleagues traffic rage setting the stage for an evening news special report on more violence in the workplace.
“We just don’t know what made her snap. She was always such a nice even tempered person and a great employee with a bright future. All we know is that someone asked her if the collated copies of the report she requested should be printed on light green or white paper. She just went mad after that repeating the word green,” is what they’ll be saying. Never knowing that it was the decision to put up a shiny new green sign during rush hour traffic on one of the hottest days of the year so far in a city where gas is a precious commodity at four dollars a gallon that sent that person off the deep end.