ASSOCIATES (vol. 6, no. 2, November 1999) -

Library Life:

A Column Of Eclectic Rantings


Katie Buller Kintner
Los Angeles Pierce College

      Ok, here it comes. Those of you who have read last month's column (and the month before and the month before) have a clue about what is to come. To review, I've been blathering on and on about my recent marriage and move from beautiful, peaceful southern Wisconsin to the hot dusty smoggy environs of southern California. Now, after nearly a year in this place, I have to...I MUST...rant...about Los Angeles Freeways!

      I guess I have to make this library-related so I'm referring mostly to my daily commute of approximately 21 miles between my home in the northeast San Fernando Valley to my job site in the west SFV. Those of you who already drive endless miles on clogged highways to get back and forth to work can yawn and go on to the next article now.

      Anyone left here? Yes? Ok then we'll go on.

      Being a true paranoid about highway driving, I put off venturing onto the freeways for almost six months but as soon as I began working, my new hubby (bless his heart) could not ferry me back and forth to work and still keep his own job. So I was forced to either use the surface streets with their thousands of traffic lights or use the freeway. What would you do? Well I didn't do that, I chose the freeway.

      My major routes are not even the BIG freeways like the Golden State, the San Diego, Hollywood or Ventura Freeways. Instead, I start out on the Foothill Freeway, most famous for being a backdrop in many episodes of "ChiPs", then venture onto the Ronald Reagan Freeway for about 10 of the most frustrating, aggravating, irritating and downright garrulous miles I can tolerate driving before exiting onto Tampa Avenue for the final leg of the trip.

      Those ten miles on the Reagan Freeway has turned me into an unquestionable expert on Los Angeles drivers. Well...maybe not, but I have noted a few things and cannot help but compare them to the way people drive in Wisconsin. To this end I have designed a short questionnaire which should tell you just which category you might belong in.

1. You are merging onto a major freeway from a side street. What do you do?

A.) Check over shoulder for cars approaching from behind, use turn signal and attain freeway speed as you near the end of the on-ramp, gently merging into traffic.
B.) You don't check your mirrors except to primp your hair, crawl along the ramp at 30 mph then suddenly swerve into traffic without signaling or speeding up. Alternatively you can stay on the ramp until the very last foot, causing drivers coming up behind you to get rear-ended or swerve into traffic to try to get around you. For extra points, you can also careen across several lanes of traffic without so much as dropping your cell-phone.

2. Driving on a busy freeway do you...

A.) Keep with the flow of traffic, use the left-hand lanes to pass slower vehicles and try to keep within 5-10 mph of the posted speed limit.
B.) Dictate belligerent letters to the LA Times about slow-moving vehicles belonging in the far right lanes as you drive up onto the shoulder to get around them.

3. You approach a slower-moving vehicle from behind. Do you...

A.) Check for oncoming vehicles in the lane to the left, then signal and pull out to pass the slower vehicle. Alternatively, you just hang behind that tractor until it finally pulls off the road 27 miles later!
B.) Edge that used (we know it's used!) Beemer you're driving right up into the trunk of that car, flash your lights, swerve around a bit as if you're going to pass but never EVER execute a legal pass when the opportunity to do so comes.

4. Young male drivers like to operate...

A.) Pickup trucks with 4-wheel drive and gunracks.
B.) Pickup trucks chopped so low that they are scraping the pavement and bottom out on every turn. The guns are under the seat.

5. Your self-imposed speed limit is:

A.) 5-10 mph above the posted limit
B.) The speed it's going when you have the accelerator pasted to the floor. Those blurry things you're passing are other cars.

6. Where are police officers most likely to be found?

A.) Check the Dunkin' Donuts. If you can't find one there, just past that next underpass you'll find the Wisconsin State Patrol clocking you at 5-10 mph over the speed limit and just ready to give you a ticket.
B.) Krispy Kreme is the new donut in town here and you might find the cops over there. Otherwise, you could find the LAPD out doing a little vigilante work in East LA or possibly find the local ChiPPies getting measured for one of those sexy tight shirts they wear. You remember Ponch and Jon, right?

7. The most favored vehicle for soccer moms is:

A.) Minivans. Lots and lots of minivans.
B.) SUVs since moms need 4-wheel drive traction to take them from the soccer field to McDonalds and don't forget Sav-On! Then we're going to the plastic surgeon's for collagen implants before my kid's big audition for that commercial! KEWL!

8. The most common car insurance carrier is:

A.) General Casualty or State Farm
B.) (in cadence) "For the best insurance rates in town, call ONE EIGHT HUNDRED GENERAL NOW!" (hey, just because it's Los Angeles doesn't mean they don't have truly asinine commercials too.)
C.) What's car insurance?

9. Optional equipment could include:

A.) CD player, rear window wiper, air-conditioning, automatic windows, remote lock security system.
B.) All of the above plus cell-phone, palm pilot, satellite-guided control system and chauffeur.
C.) Bulletproof glass.

10. The most popular vehicle is:

A.) Toyota Corolla
B.) Mercedes Benz
C.) Jags (common as rats out here!)

      Answers: all the A's are Wisconsin (and pretty much anyplace else) and all B and C answers are Los Angeles (or maybe Boston). If you haven't figured that out by now, DUH on you! Anyway, I just had to get this all out of my system. For the record, Los Angeles is a great city that just happens to have a few problems like earthquakes, gangs, smog, wildfires and out-of-control egos, but other than that...I love it here! Now if I could just find Brad Pitt's house...

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