Driving Didactics

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When I was a newcomer to Los Angeles – one that emigrated from the open highways and empty byways of coastal Virginia, the thing that was most harrowing about this city was the traffic. But as I made the 8.3 mile, 55 minute trek to work each day, as I burned through half-listened-to podcasts and stared at the houses in the Hills I’ll probably never have enough money for, a few truths presented themselves like epiphanies.

That, or they’re just stretched similarities my dull mind turned into meaningful parallels, due to an unparalleled meaninglessness. I’m not sure. You tell me.

1| The highway, like life, is relative; often the fast lane is just the least slow lane.

2| Patience is a virtue, but if you can’t put the pedal to the metal when you see an opportunity, you’ll need to be very virtuous.

3|In heavy traffic, a new beamer and an old beater have the same top speed.

4| You can tell more about a person by how they drive than by what they drive.

5| It’s rare that honking your horn is efficacious, but sometimes that blast of shrill air is like a relief valve for your frustration. Plus, it’s easy to find solace in the silence and stares that inevitably follow your futile, figurative ‘fuck-you’.

6| While the straight path to your destination is the most clear and consistent, it can be far more beautiful to take the twists and turns of the backroads to get there, however risky that may be.

7| No matter how confused the imbroglio of obstacles in your way, you will always get to where you’re going, eventually.

8| Always keep your eyes as far down the road as you can; patterns will emerge and reveal the best short term decisions to beget long term success.

9| Plan ahead, give yourself some extra time. Better to have an easy ride and get there early than to be panicked and barely on time (this is one of those do as I say, not as I do lessons).

Now, there is a way to circumvent these traffic truths. Because it’s legal to do “whatever the fuck one wants on a motorcycle in the state of California” (not my verbiage. That’s the law. California, right?), buying a two-wheeled death chair negates all the above rules. Benefits include faster travel time, not having to entertain yourself by comparing your immediate reality to a more existential perspective, and that every second of life will mean more to you because you’ll probably die soon. Statistically.

I’m sure there are many more car-Confucianisms to be made. Anyone else not from a place where highway numbers are preceded by an officious “the”, that has had the culture shock of driving these mind-numbing, soul-sucking streets, feel free to include your own observations in the comments section.

 

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