Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Here?

Ah, Southern California is such a wonderful place. It is so wonderful, millions of people have swarmed into its warm embrace, overwhelming just about every system we've built to sustain our hectic lives.

The freeway, so called because there are no tolls, is congested nearly all the time. If you plan on going 30 miles, you need to also plan on taking over an hour to get there. The only thing free about this way is the lack of tolls. Millions of people destroy thousands of cars a year in the frantic stop and go traffic. 

There is no salt on the road to corrode the car's body or undercarriage. The constant stop and go, however, is the drive train’s worst enemy. Traffic, however, is a way of life. You cannot let it get you down. We go at this beast with a different state of mind, one that will not allow an increase in stress just because we're sitting in a line stretching for unseen miles. Every day, every single day, we subject ourselves to this beast, bowing to its very tangible power. Regularly, this monotony is interspersed with some very real excitement.

Excitement presents itself in a way that is so very hard to avoid. Due to one or two drivers who decide they’ve had enough of the non-monetary toll to drive these roads, caution is thrown to the wind. This is when accidents happen. An accident has the power to disrupt traffic for hours. Make it big enough, that interruption can last for days. With the right luck, a collision in the right place at the right time can affect well over a million commuters and even tie up some airtime on local radio and television. In fact, you do it right, people will talk about your exploits for at least a few moments around the water cooler before the real work of the day begins.

Traffic is not the worst aspect of living with so many people. It is just one of a few problems we face here in Southern California.

Why, then, do people live here? Well, here’s where I live. I live among rolling hills that are truly breathtaking for most of the year. I get this beauty while enjoying weather – or non-weather – that is hardly ever harsh, or difficult in any way. I drive through these hills almost every single day. Where I am driving, there are seldom the long lines of cars and traffic that you see most everywhere else in the megalopolis that surrounds Los Angeles, stretching south to San Diego and north to Santa Barbara. Yes, this is an oasis of sorts. It is one of the few reasons I can continue to suffer through red taillights and traffic almost ever time I want to go almost anywhere.

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