long line of cars

The traffic on the 101 was as horrible as ever. For no apparent reason, every lane of the freeway would speed up to 30 or 40, then come to a complete stop just as quickly. It took me 20 minutes to drive 2 3/4 miles.

I thought, "I don't know how people do this every day, twice a day. This is soul-crushing."


Forty-five Minutes Earlier

I was starting to lose my voice. We'd been recording for close to four and a half hours, and that's about all I can do before I run out of energy. I finished the chapter, and took a drink of water.

The director's voice came through the small speaker on the table next to me. "Do you want to keep going, or do you think it's time to call it a day?"

"I want to know what happens next," I said, "but I think I'm done. I usually hit the wall around four hours."

"We're doing 80 pages a day, which is really good. I think we can go ahead and call it."

I picked up my keys and my phone. An LED flashed on the cover, telling me I had a text message. It was from Anne: Do you want to meet me for early dinner on your way home?

I thumbed to the compose screen, and told her that I had just finished, and I could meet her in about 25 minutes.

"Yay!" She replied.

"I'll be back at 10 tomorrow," I said to Tony, the Director. "Have a good evening."

"Really great work today, Wil," he said.


I squinted my eyes against the bright San Fernando Valley sunlight when I walked out of the studio. It was in the mid-80s, and I could tell that it had been a beautiful day. When I started my car, Van Halen was playing on the radio. I reflexively began to rock out, but by the second verse of Running With The Devil, my voice reminded me that I'd been using it all day. I cleared my throat and changed the station to NPR, which I listened to in silence the rest of my drive.

The traffic sucked, and the majority of other drivers didn't do much to help, with their speeding up and slamming on of brakes and changing lanes without signalling. I took a deep breath, and did my best to just be patient. When I finally got to the restaurant, I was ready to punch Lenny in the back of the head.

I walked inside, and saw my wife, sitting in the corner of the patio. She smiled and waved to me.

"How was your day?" She said.

"It was good," I said. I took a drink of her lemonade. It felt great on my tired vocal cords.

"I realized something while sitting in that horrible traffic on my way here," I said.

"What's that?"

"I'm really lucky."

"You're lucky because you had to sit in traffic?"

"No, I'm lucky that I don't have to sit in traffic like this every day, twice a day, like so many other people. And all this week, I'm getting paid to read and perform a book I love. This is a good life."

The waitress came by, and I ordered a ginger lemonade of my own.

59 thoughts on “long line of cars”

  1. My morning traffic involves one lane in heavy trafic which you need to get in to get on the bridge. But you can be an ass and go on the lane beside to then cut into the lane later to save time.
    So if everyone just went at the back of the line, there would be no problem. But since people feel they need to save time, I don’t think there is anything wrong in protecting my position. Cheating isn’t cool and that’s what these people try to do.
    So that’s why there is constant stop and go and everybody knows that you need to be in that lane before hand.
    People might not agree, but it sucks for the person who waits 30 minutes to get where they are and they get cut by someone who just arrived.
    Trust me on this.

  2. LA traffic is that it’s long and heavy with lots of miles of long highway.
    Lexington, Kentucky traffic on some of their roads is a bit like playing Frogger. In 3-D.
    Street level Frogger. And we have LOTS of accidents on that one road I mention. Mostly sideswipes.
    I have to take Nicholasville Rd. (the model of Street level Frogger) and navigate it’s hazards twice a day to get to work. Once just before 10pm at night and again at 6:30 am the next morning.
    10pm isn’t so bad as there is not a lot of traffic and it’s a straight shot to work. But 6:30 in the morning, you get ALL the Lexington suburbanites pouring down this road toward downtown Lexington. And I have to take the same flow they do. Which sucks waiting for an opening and you sit there wanting to get on the damned road already!
    Working third shift at inconvenience stores suck. Especially if it’s one called Speedway. Or as we employees joke, “there’s always a little pee in every Speedway” – pun on the name.

  3. As a single mom of 4 yr old triplets I actually look forward to sitting in traffic…it’s usually the only time I have to myself to just sit and reflect or zone out and not worry about anything. :)

  4. if you are on a stretch where there’s no merging traffic, you can be the brave one who stays slow when the rest of the traffic does its rabbit-turtle oscillation. at first people may honk, but then they catch on. you can dampen the wave, with effects that are noticeable for at least a mile. you have to be not in too great a hurry. too much npr rots your brain, by confirming your biases. i’m unemployed/car broken down/can’t afford gas, so i don’t have these worries.

  5. Three posts I haven’t seen from you in 2011:
    1) Any type of post on WSOP (do you still have friends that play)?
    2) Any post on E3 (last day was today)
    3) Any post on the beer garden event that was in San Diego in the past.
    It seems you always get a positive reaction no matter what you post on here. For a while you were posting about Poker Stars and your online tournament or live play.
    I kind of had the impression that X amount of your followers were poker players. Maybe just X Men (I mean Yes Men..Yes people?) LOL

  6. Amen to not sitting in trafic, for work or otherwise. It was this decision which allows the Husband to Be to walk to work (yes, here in Los Angeles) from our latest apartment. He’s a happy clam leaving for his workday and I’ll put up with crazy-ass neighbors, their kids and the dogs (to a large extent) so he can have that pleasure.

  7. I love you for writing things that confirm that I am not a total frakking weirdo when my mind Walter Mittys on me. You are the best. <3

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