Thursday, February 2, 2012

In Denial

It happened again - I was late to work. I pulled into the employee parking lot at about six minutes past nine.

My commute is only ten miles long. The first six miles is on a winding, two-lane canyon road; the remaining drive is on busy Pacific Coast Highway, where the posted speed limit is 55 mph.

Yet this morning it took fifty minutes.

The hang-up is usually in the Canyon, which can be treacherous, especially in bad weather, and where an accident can turn a two-lane road into a stand-still until the Highway Patrol arrives. But most of the time,the problem is at the traffic light at the terminus of the road, where it meets PCH. Due to poor timing or just vehicular volume, the long chain of cars backs up the canyon for miles, moving incrementally between five-minute halts.

And so we sit, listening to the morning drive radio, looking up at the canyon walls, and enjoying the native vegetation and birdsong, watching the digital numbers tick by on the dashboard clock.

On a good day, I can sit at my desk twenty-five minutes after I leave my house. But on a bad day, it can take up to 90 minutes. I usually leave at 8:15 - leaving myself 45 minutes.

You may ask - Why don't I leave the house earlier?

I don't know. I think maybe I'm in denial. I simply can't accept that a ten-mile commute should take an hour or more.

I think many of us in Los Angeles are in denial - Traffic in Los Angeles is a constant presence. Folks avidly debate travel time and routes and how to avoid a hang-up. Running late for meetings, dinner reservations, and other appointments are - usually - accepted with understanding. Unlike in other cities, being hung up in traffic seems to be the guilt-free excuse. 

What's traffic like where you live?


Rachael said...

I am in the Austin-Metro area, we have horrible traffic here! But I made an arrangement with my office for this problem: I clock in 30 minutes early, and then I take a 1.5 hour lunch. It works in two ways, I get to beat most of rush hour and I get a long lunch every day. So I'm not rushing around at lunch, too.

Cassi Renee said...

We have no traffic to speak of, and all the roads are straight and flat. I live on the prairie.

We traveled to Eureka, CA last summer. That road you pictured looks all too familiar. We crawled along those mountain roads with our hearts in our throats, while people with more experience tried to push us along. Scary! Beautiful, but SCARY!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I used to be late in NYC all the time, Aunt Snow.

My commute was a walk around the block and across 23rd St.

(Plus another block to 24th...So you see, it was pretty brutal.)

Janet said...

traffic is bad here, too, in the Boston area. Generally takes me 50 minutes morning and evening to get the 15 miles to work. but the worst traffic I ever experienced was in Japan. We lived off base, 6 miles away and it took us at least an hour to get there and back. Horrible!!!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It's too bad there's no bike lane- you could reliably get there in a little under an hour every time if you went at a nice, leisurely pace.

Aunt Snow said...

BBBB - biking would be fun, but biking home up the canyon would be rough - it's a 1000 feet up from the beach!

Anonymous said...

Listening to the morning traffic report on the radio is underwhelming here. There are plenty of side streets, so only if you are stick in an accident on the highway that bisects the city is there such a thing as traffic.

smalltownme said...

Around my little tourist town it's worse than it used to be, but really not bad overall. My husband's and son's commute on 101 or 154 is still pretty smooth unless there is an accident.

Max Sartin said...

Along the Wasatch Front, the traffic can get bad, mainly because we live along a long, thin corridor with few alternate routes. Fortunately, my commute is against the flow, and off the beaten path, so my 6 mile drive takes me 10 minutes on a bad day.

shrink on the couch said...

Sadly, some publication rated Austin #3 for worst traffic (which I find hard to believe when I read stories such as yours ... I suppose L.A. is #1?). Thankfully I have an 8 minute commute most days. I live just a few miles from my office. I'm extremely lucky and thankful (and somewhat responsible, I mean I do pick out my own office space, but still lucky traffic has remained light on my route).

Sheila said...

And the speed limit in that area on PCH should be nowhere near 55mph. There are so many accidents there.

Sheila said...

And the speed limit in that area on PCH should be nowhere near 55mph. There are so many accidents there.

Gilly said...

Now I am retired I can watch the traffic with a smile on my face! Though seriously, it is not bad round here. And long ago, where I used to work at a Hospital, my hours were outside the rush hour, so I was just fine!

Except when it snowed and the roads hadn't been gritted!!

Ah, happy days!