Friday, March 23, 2012

Driving in the big city

Two of the days we were in New York I needed to drive into the city rather than take the mass transit.  I used a different car each time.  The first day I drove in cousin had a GPS in her car that not only showed the maps but it also told you what lane to be in and when to turn.  Keep left, keep right, turn right in 1/2 mile.  Turn right.  Recalculating!  The recalculating part was fun.  After I got a general sense of where I was I on purpose didn't listen to the GPS.  I could hear the tone of her (the GPS) voice get more frustrated... recalculating, recalculating! 

The freeway system was easy to navigate.  I find that people are either afraid of driving on the freeway or they aren't.  Once you are used to bunches of vehicles zipping by you at high speeds then freeway driving is easy.  This included night driving but the weather was good, so again, it wasn't an issue. 

City driving was another story.  I've never seen traffic like what I experienced.  The scenes in the movies are accurate.  Drivers stop where ever they feel like stopping.  On street cleaning day (only one side of the street gets cleaned on any given day) all the cars that would park on that side of the street double park on the other side of the street for the two hours they aren't allowed to park on the side being cleaned.  That I've never seen in my life.  I felt bad for anyone who didn't know they would get trapped in by double parked vehicles.  Could you imagine getting a parking spot, taking care of whatever you needed to do, and coming outside to find a solid wall of cars parked in the lane for driving, with the vehicle owners nowhere to be seen?  You'd be stuck for a few hours.  I was really lucky because I was driving around looking for a parking spot during this time.  I knew I couldn't double park because as soon as the time passes and it's OK to park on the other side of the street then there's mass car movements and you couldn't leave your car double parked.  I was able to weave through a couple of vehicles and park along the curb.  It didn't matter if someone else came along and boxed me in since I knew the double parking would end about a half hour later.  Still, it was bizarre. 

I was in awe with how many people were stuffed into such a small area when we were in New York City.  We flew into Los Angeles and I had to teach a class in one of the suburbs.  The class was set to be taught in a training center at a police station.  As I drove from LAX to that town I took a good hard look around.  LA is much more spread out than New York.  There is some mass transportation - buses are a means for many, mostly the middle and lower wage earners.  I don't know who uses the metro in LA.  In New York it looked like all types of wage earners used the train and subway.  I'd probably be right to assume that more of the bus riders were the lower earners and higher earners would take taxis. 

Even driving from one end of LA to the other I took the round about way and headed to the edge of the city.  Just in case something happened, like an earthquake, there would be less people to deal with.  I kept the gas tank full as per my normal.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened but it sure makes me feel more calm knowing that at least I'm aware enough of my surroundings to try to keep as safe as possible. 

This is all I'm going to write on my trip.  Tomorrow, it will be back to what I'm doing for us!

1 comment:

  1. driving here is a huge pain! everything you've seen in movies is right. the sheer selfishness and insanity of the average driver here would have them in jail anywhere else. one of the reasons i moved here is so i wouldn't have to drive anymore but even that has it's own stress. the MTA can be it's own pain but i'd still rather the train than drive every day.