June 29th, 2009
Well, let's start with the simple bits. The other day I was on my way home from work. There's a very annoying stretch on the 680 right after the 101 interchange. Coming North on the 101, there's three lanes. The #1 lane goes onto the 680 S/280 N, the #3 lane goes onto the 680 N/280 S, and the #2 lane gets its choice of where to go. These lanes split off and typically, I'm in the #2 lane because of what happens next.
Once you make the split, a lane that's transferring from the 101 S joins in to your left, so now there's three lanes that are joining onto the existing 4 lanes of the 680 N. After the merge, the #7 lane drops off onto an exit. Not too much longer, the #6 does the same. There isn't much notice, so people slam on their brakes and try to negotiate into the traffic that's on going. This causes quite a jam.
So because of this, as soon as the lane from the 101 S comes in, I swap into it, putting me in the leftmost lane of the ones merging. That puts me out of the ones that are mandatory exits. This lane merges in with the #4 lane shortly thereafter -- and for a little bit, it's a double-width lane. As soon as it does that, I skip over at least one lane to the left, so I can avoid the general confusion with the people who are trying to force their way back onto the 680 N. It's a strategy that works a lot better than the alternative and since this is my daily commute, I try to work that out with the fewest kinks possible.
Well, I was going to do that just fine on Friday, except that some chick in a big black 4x4 was in the #4 lane. She was a ways behind me, so I kept a decent distance from the car ahead of me, and settled in on the double width portion, keeping on the right hand line.
Apparently, she was Italian and saw that there was room to pass, despite the fact that we were in the same lane at this point. She is a Bay Area Driver after all (and I swear that acronym is no coincidence), she zips around me on the left side of the lane, but she can't get a full car width ahead of me while maintaining her distance...
which puts me in an awkward spot because I'm about to merge right into her!
Grumbling, I applied my brakes and started to slip in behind her. But while checking my blind spot, I noticed something in the roadway -- it turned out to be a white bag with what looked like branches in it and it was in line with my right tire. I couldn't simply slip over to the right because of the people who were trying to avoid getting off of the 680 and I couldn't go left because of the chick who's sitting right next to me and completely oblivious of the drama unfolding.
In the end, I was a little fortunate -- I had just enough room that I squeezed within a couple of inches of her car while trying to slow down enough to slip behind her. Just enough to avoid the bag.
People ask me all the time why I miss LA and I answer that I miss the driving down there. They're usually taken aback by that -- everyone's heard that LA's just one big freeway, right? The difference is that in LA, everyone's so used to that, so they leave a decent amount of space and they don't go zipping around trying to get a car length ahead of people as a result.
This instance -- which had a decent chance of ending in an accident -- would not have happened in LA. It is, however, the sort of insanity which unfolds on a daily basis down here. The lot of these hybrid-loving, health-food-munching, tree-hugging lot of empty-headed hippie leftovers need to learn to *fucking* drive.
Aww, I wish. I'm down in SoCal this whole weekend :(
We shall meet! And then the sea urchins will fight! RAWR!