Friday, January 14, 2011

Driving Miss Crazy

People drive like lunatics in LA. Some of them probably are genuine lunatics. The rest have just been here so long they think it’s normal to drive like a lunatic.

Since we moved to the beach I have to navigate Pacific Coast Highway in order to go anywhere. PCH is a 45mph road through a residential area (in Malibu at least), which people drive along like it’s a freeway. I try to avoid driving on it, by being TLOML’s shadow and only going out with him. If I need to go and grab groceries or post a letter I take my pushbike. I think the adrenalin rush of feeling Hummers motor past me at 70mph makes the workout more effective.

But every once in a while I have to get behind the wheel of Ellen, our trusty Subaru (named for Ellen Degeneres, natch), and go it alone. Today was one of those days. Within half a mile of my home, I saw this guy walking slowly across the road. Only the crazy (or tourists) walk slowly across PCH. It is not a road to be strolling across. I failed to analyse this quickly enough, didn’t realise he was crazy, and assumed he would stop in the median and wait for me to pass. He did not. He just kept on walking, stepping out right in front of me as if I was not there. Fortunately I had slowed, but despite my beeping (Elle’s horn is a little gentle, a sort of Noddy ‘parp’ rather than a big honk) he continued to walk out. I swerved, slowed, and missed him by about a foot. If this guy stays in Malibu, he’ll be dead within a week.

I was still pretty riled when, another half a mile later a guy in an Escalade (because obviously a 4x4 is essential in the difficult terrain and treacherous weather of LA) cut me up. Was I invisible today? He literally pulled into my lane, with no signal, right into me, as if I wasn’t there. The old brake, swerve, beep manoeuvre is becoming too familiar.

Finally, at a light in Santa Monica, I saw another classic example of LA driving. A permatanned blonde woman in a Porsche Boxster, making an illegal left turn across traffic, with her cell phone in one hand, and a yappy little dog on her lap. Nice. It should probably have riled me, but it actually just made me chuckle.

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