2 Hours from West LA to Long Beach

2 Hours.

In 2 Hours, I could drive to Santa Barbara, I could drive to San Diego.

In the Western part of LA, 2 Hours affords you 30 Miles.  A marathon runner could almost keep pace.  A very good one at least.

That 2 hours is what it took me to get from Beverly Hills to Central Long Beach from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM.

I was rushing to make a tutoring appointment from my other job and almost failed miserably.
I had to be there by 3:30 for an hour tutoring session that lasts till 4:30.

The first mistake was using a combination Wilshire Blvd towards UCLA.  The five-lane virtual highway was packed to capacity.  A large number of cars decided to either U-turn or turn on the next available side street.  It took about 15 minutes to get out of Beverly Hills to go from the 8300s to the 11000th block of Wilshire.

2:45.  I've traveled barely 4 miles.

OK, fine, I'll just speed by when I get to the 405.

Trying to get on the 405 S(mistake), I took Santa Monica Blvd.  Traffic never quite eases up.  Another 15 minutes.

3:02.  This is when I realize the impossibility of getting to Central Long Beach in 28 minutes.  That is still 26 miles away.

I think of the hard cover book that I picked up for $1 by Tom Vanderbilt, a book called Traffic. 

As I turn onto the Southbound ramp full of other drivers who'd been waiting. I think constantly of the metaphor he'd used to describe unexplained traffic jams.  That of rush of water having to fit into one tiny hole.

Amidst this glut, I experiment for awhile with techniques from the book, going 30 MPH, trying to maintain a steady space, meanwhile, allowing many drivers to cut into my lane.

It is 3:15 by the time, I reach the Univision sign in Culver City on the 405.  20 miles to go in 15 minutes.  It has taken a solid 45 minutes just to travel 10 miles.

But the impersonality of traffic doesn't care.

My Corolla limps along the highway.  Having gotten only 2 hours of sleep the night before, I get in a few micro-sleeps while my car moves at an elite marathoner runner's pace.

I nod off and wake myself up at different intervals.  I think of how the curves on the freeway are designed to wake drivers up, another insight from Vanderbilt's book.

3:30 slips by unnoticed in my mid-day drowsiness.  I am barely in Lawndale, some 15 miles away from Long Beach.

I eventually pull into the sidewalk, and my clock reads:  5:38.  It's a clock that actually means 4:23 PM, unchanged since Daylight Savings Time and 13 minutes ahead.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is like the dark compliment to the running gag in SNL's "The Californians". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czLXk2ttp_M

Brian J. Delas Armas said...

LOL this actually did cross my mind as I was writing