It’s darker outside than I think I’ve seen night be in many years. California, especially the Greater Los Angeles area, have the unfortunate honor of possessing the worst roads I’ve ever driven on in my entire life. Nothing can really prepare you for how terrible these roads are. Loose rocks from general disrepair fly up from tires and smack your windshield, cars swerve because of uneven lanes, and the slightest drop of water turns all the traffic lines invisible.
So tonight with darkness so thick that even high beams revealed naught but despair the skies decided to rain with a passion that would make Washington envious. A torrent rained from the heavens and rendered every lane utterly indistinguishable from every other lane. I thought for a moment that maybe it was just me not being able to tell where my lane ended or began. I thought that for only a few short minutes because I started watching lanes fill up with 2 or 3 cars at a time.
“3?” You say. “That sounds like an impossible number of cars for a single lane.” Normally I’d agree with you but LA also features some very bad lane design. There are lanes that are big enough for multiple cars because they merge for hundreds of (maybe a thousand or more) feet. Long stretches of road where two lines of cars can’t decide if they wish to be one or not. Illegal for sure but that doesn’t stop everyone from driving beside one another.
I saw three cars jostling for position in front of me and each unwilling to surrender. The lane kept growing thinner and thinner, I wondered if any of them were growing nervous. Their polished paints threatened to scrape against one another, coming ever closer with every passing second. Finally the guy on the left was forced into the lane to my left and he nearly collided with another car. A horn honked angrily and I saw red lights flicker and heard the slightest hint of wheels squealing. Like tasting a dash of dried pepper in pasta.
Back in my lane the two cars ahead of me continued to jostle until they were at the do or die stage of the dance. They would either give or they would both be waiting in the downpour for a police officer to appear. The man on the right finally surrendered and moved back in front of me. They wouldn’t have had to wait very long because a few seconds later I caught out of the corner of my eye a police officer driving down the carpool lane. There is little chance he made it through tonight without being called to a car accident. Dinosaurs rising from the grave would surprise me less.
I don’t know if it was fog, or smog, but whatever made today so dark from beginning to end was welcome for me. At least all until that drive tonight. I did genuinely wonder if I’d make it home. Watching people forcing their way into lanes, hearing the horns honking, and watching the cars swerve. All the while listening to the book “The Better Angels of our Nature.” which begins by detailing the horrors of our past and how grateful we should be that they are largely left to fantasy these days.
This is not even to speak of two other things that caught my attention today. Both involving those sand filled barrels on the road. I thought they were filled with water, and perhaps they are as well, but today I saw what was inside of them. The first culprit to the bursting of these barrier barrels was the rubber from a blown semi tire. It had pierced the barrel as if it were made of paper. I thought for a moment about mythbusters and how dangerous those tire fragments are. I didn’t think I’d be seeing it in my own lifetime.
The second was a dozen or so barrels that had been crushed into pulp on the drive home. Someone had hit them with such force that they looked more like imploded soda cans than actual buffers. I don’t know who did it, or how fast they had to be going to have done it, but I feel like someone didn’t walk away from that incident unscathed. Given how many people try to “sneak” into an offramp at beyond the last second I am not surprised that such a thing happened here.
It would be nice if LA Residents could just collectively decide they will cease being so impatient about their inevitable death. Often times it takes two to tango in the world of automotive accidents and I personally don’t wish to dance.