The other day I got on an airplane and, as usual, fell asleep before it took off. And, just as Gulliver did, I woke up in the land of make-believe: Los Angeles, where your first experience is trying to find the carousel that is supposed to have your baggage from your mythical flight. I was once again introduced to the law of the airport: “It will take as long for your baggage to get from the airport to the carousel as it did for your body to arrive from your departure place.”
The trip from the curb to the car rental garage was in a bus big enough to hold an entire football team and driven by a small woman who had just graduated from Race Car Driving School in Marin County. Fortunately, there were seatbelts on the bus or we would have wound up in a heap, just like the baggage did, against the front windshield when the bus got cut off by a speeding automobile being chased by a police car.
The rental car pick up went without a hitch except the clerk had to have someone standing with him, translating everything into Spanish so he could enter it into the computer.
As I crept toward the on-ramp for the freeway to merge with the evening rush hour traffic, I realized I had not done this for a few years and the butterflies in my stomach were bigger than those in a novice skier who discovers they have accidently committed to make the second turn on a black diamond, mogul-filled run.
Once in the flow of the evening traffic, I watched as car after car changed lanes and slipped into the space between my car and the one in front of me. A rule of Los Angeles freeway driving is, “If there is enough space between you and the car in front of you, another car will cut in and fill it up. Nature abhors a vacuum.”
By the time I got over Sepulveda Pass and got ready to handle the interchange to Santa Barbara, I was tailgating just like someone in the Winston 500 and going as fast. I drove the 75 miles to Santa Barbara in a little less than an hour and never got into the fast lane!
The next morning you could see forever. California was like it was when I was a youngster, clear skies and the sun sparkling off the water. But me being a youngster was more than 80 years ago.
Walking to my meeting place that morning, I was almost knocked down by a couple on rollerblades: both in a deep crouch and racing toward total body fitness. They were dressed in matching purple and black spandex, silver rollerblades and alternating green and red elbow pads and black brain buckets with a six-foot ribbon flowing behind them allowing the second person to draft behind the first just as my car had been drafted the evening before while driving up the freeway. Except all the second skater got to see was the fanny of the person in front of them while they were crouched down and working out.
After the meeting and on my return to LA, I avoided the freeway by driving down the coast route. Though it was great to have the ocean on my right, the speed of the oncoming traffic was nearly that of the freeway, so I stayed way over to the right.
I was heading toward a time-management seminar. I showed up late. Some start.
Living like this is why I left the LA basin 25 years ago for the Northwest eight months of the year and the mountains the other four. I’m too old to remodel!
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