Fear and Raging in Los Angeles

5 Mar

Go go go!


One of the things I do not appreciate about my new Los Angeles life is the traffic. To understand how jarring traffic is for me, I may need to give you a little background information.

I miss you.

Before moving here, I resided in the absolutely perfect Napa Valley. For almost 15 years, I lived in a little hilltop town that boasts of one stop sign on its “Main Street.” I lived half a mile from my work, so the commute… well, there wasn’t one. A jaunt into St. Helena, the closest place of interest took all of 15 minutes. While the nearest Target and retail shopping was about a half hour away in Napa itself, I didn’t mind the drive. How could I complain when such a trip was filled with field after field of grapevines and the occasional hot air balloon? I couldn’t. Tourists who were suckered into bicycling the valley also made the drive interesting, as their misery was greatly evident. I loved to make fun of them. (photo source)

It’s true that the summer months brought in hoards of tourists and jammed the 29, but none of them ever bothered to do any research about where to go or how to get there, so the Silverado Trail was usually fine. The moral of this tale is that until recently, my experience with traffic was practically zilch. While it is true I encountered some traffic whenever I trekked into San Francisco, it was excusable because I was going to San Francisco.

Now, since my husband and I share a vehicle (shout out to Pierre!), at least two hours of my day is devoted to getting us to and from work. I suppose I should be grateful there isn’t more, but it’s still something I’m having a hard time accepting, which I assume you can understand given my past history. On weekdays, my husband and I aim to leave our house before 8 a.m. We take two freeways to his work. I drop my husband off, and then take another freeway to my work. The worst part of my commute is the 1.7 mile stretch from the freeway to my work – it takes at least 20 minutes. Then I do the whole thing in reverse at the end of the day. What kills me is the trip is approximately 26.7 miles but takes at least 45 minutes to complete. Don’t even get me started about how I have two Targets 4.9 and six miles away from my house but I have to get on three or four different freeways to get to either of them.

If the whole thing sounds unpleasant, it’s because it is, but I don’t mind since my husband is able to commute with me at least for part of the time. The worst part about all the driving are the drivers. The drivers in LA are hands down the worst I have ever been around. I may be doing 10 over the speed limit in a residential neighborhood but I will be tailgated and honked at and occasionally flipped off. It is great (I’m being sarcastic). On the freeway, I have learned that if I am not tailgating the car in front of me, it’s like I have a large, Vegas-style sign atop my car that says in bright, flash lights “Yes! Please! Cut me off!”

As you can imagine, all of these things make me mad. Very mad. And I may have a confession to make…

I have road rage. Or at least an early onset version of it.

I feel your pain, man.

But don’t worry, you won’t see me jumping out of any cars and trying to hit anybody with a golf club. The only person my rage effects is myself. See, it’s kind of a passive-aggressive kind of rage, in that other drivers are more than likely not aware of my feelings. Mostly, I yell at the cars that are tailgating me/cutting me off/otherwise driving irrationally and call them names. That is because I am terrified of other drivers, which takes us to the second point of this blog post. (photo source)

More explaining may be due here. Remember that small, hilltop town I referenced earlier? That town has little to no crime, and the same goes with the majority of Napa County (though Napa itself I realize is getting a bit sketchy in parts). I literally know millionaires who don’t lock their million-dollar homes. With the exception of the Wal-Mart in Napa, I have never been worried when walking alone, even at night. (I realize this has a very “Pleasantville”-esque sound to it, but it’s the truth.) In my entire time living there, I believe there was only one murder in St. Helena and it was family-related (not that that makes it any better, but at least it wasn’t some random killing). It was the first homicide in the area in years.

Now, I live in a county that has had 96 homicides since the beginning of this year, according to The Homicide Report of The Los Angeles Times. So you can see why I would be hesitant to even honk at a motorist who deliberately cuts me off or tailgates me relentlessly. I’m worried they’re going to shoot me. When driving around in Napa, my biggest concerns were avoiding the numerous drunk tourists or hitting a deer.

Thanks for telling me to stay "Straight Outta Compton."

I understand that Los Angeles is much different than Napa, in so many ways. Population-wise, little Napa County boasts a mere 134,650 residents (source) while LA county has over 9.8 million (source). I also know that a majority of the crime in the county occurs in East Los Angeles, which I can tell you I will never visit. I’ve listened to Dr. Dre, I know what’s up. Still, it is unnerving to know I live in a place where there’s actually crime. And traffic. (photo source)

Thankfully, however, my husband and I are lucky to live in a really nice place, one that has only had 11 violent crimes (no homicides!) and 129 property crimes in the last six months. We have no plans to venture into Compton or Inglewood, and I guess I just need to get a grip about traffic. Mom, rest easy. 🙂


10 Responses to “Fear and Raging in Los Angeles”

  1. The Suze March 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM #

    How’s this for a plot twist: your origins are in East L.A. You missed its being your hometown by a mere eight weeks. =)

    • cynicallipgloss March 10, 2011 at 7:20 AM #

      Oh I totally forgot I was almost born there! Almost so gangster.

  2. The Suze March 6, 2011 at 10:07 AM #

    Another comment regarding the post must be added: hahahahaha. Very funny and well-written! Once again, love the illustrations and captions, too.

  3. The Suze March 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM #

    Argh! Another comment: The Fahja agrees. Also, this just posted on MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41832902/ns/business-forbescom/

  4. Kyle Lemmon March 6, 2011 at 1:38 PM #

    N.W.A.! Dr. Dre’s production is so killer on “Straight Outta Compton.” Traffic and rap always reminds me of the beginning to Office Space. http://dailymotion.com/video/x77pz4_office-space-opening-scene_fun

  5. Cheri March 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM #

    Ha! It’s a jungle out there. Nathan recently interviewed at USC medical center which is right in the heart of East L.A., so if I end up there, I’ll definately be taking a self-defense class, stocking up on mace, and attempting to lose my ‘nobody will ever hurt me, complex’. I don’t know what to do to prepare for the drivers.

    • cynicallipgloss March 10, 2011 at 7:24 AM #

      Haha, yes! You will need to do all of those things. I have mace, actually. I’m not sure if I feel safer with it, or more scared that I feel like I need it. :/ To prepare for the drivers… I don’t even know. They require much more patience than I have. Oh and good luck to Nathan! 🙂

  6. Brandy April 2, 2011 at 5:10 PM #

    I missed this the first time around, which is a shame, because it totally made me laugh. I, too, have a secret road rage problem I am none too proud of, except… shamefully enough mine falls into the other category. I get impatient with slow drivers and often have to stop myself from honking or flipping them off. Don’t worry: my rage as of yet is personal and self-contained. Well, it doesn’t leave the confines of my car. But you haven’t seen crazy until you’ve sat next to a head-steaming, toe-tapping, expletive-spouting Driver Brandy.

    • cynicallipgloss April 6, 2011 at 9:33 PM #

      Oh I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone, even if your rage is slightly different from mine! 🙂 Those other motorists will never know how angry they make us. Haha.

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