Sunday, September 16, 2018

Karma has no room in LA traffic

(My descent into turning into my father is complete. I'm going to talk about how long it took to get somewhere.)

Setting the stage: For my typical morning commute to work I take mostly side streets, and the key point is where I must cross a set of tracks for a light-rail line (as there are only a limited number of crossing points). Recently construction on the closest large boulevard has closed that and caused much more traffic to the smaller two-lane street I use.

At the intersection just before the tracks there is the street that proceeds straight north to the tracks and a perpendicular street where cars coming east turn left or cars coming west turn right to get on to the aforementioned northbound street. But with all the extra traffic cars back up in all three directions, because not only can the tracks be blocked when trains go by but just on the far side of the tracks is another intersection with a traffic light. So that light turns red, the northbound street backs up all the way to the previous intersection, leaving no room for more cars to proceed through at that one.

At least they shouldn't. But that doesn't stop some oblivious or inconsiderate drivers from pulling into the intersection even though there isn't room on the other side, thereby blocking the intersection when the light changes and the westbound cars (that aren't turning) cannot go.

I try not to be such an person, which seems like should be karmically good.

Friday when I was on the northbound street approaching the intersection the light happened to be green and cars going that direction were actually able to get through... but just before I got to the intersection I spotted a westbound car turn right on the red (because apparently the car two in front of me left just enough room for such a move) and thus I had to pause to see if I could complete getting across the intersection, which allowed an extra moment for the light to turn yellow and I stopped (rather than run the risk of blocking the intersection).

After a moment of sitting there it became evident that there would have been room for me on the other side had I run the yellow light. But hey, I was first in line for that direction when the next green light came so it didn't seem too bad.

However, with the westbound or eastbound cars turning north when they had the green, that filled all available space on the other side when the light turned green for me. And the red light at the far intersection past the tracks kept them not moving until after the light turned red for me, so a whole cycle went by without me (or any other northbound cars) being able to move.

Then the far light turned, the cars on the other side proceeded, and more eastbound/westbound cars turned and when the far light changed to red again... the other side of the intersection was full again. So when I got the next green light again I couldn't move for yet another full cycle.

And then the same happened again. The synchronization with the far intersection left it so the northbound cars kept having their green when the far one was red or when the tracks were blocked for a train. So at the third green I just turned right and went east... then turned around on another side street and headed back so I was going westbound and was able to turn right on to the northbound other side of the intersection at the next green.

Obviously the lesson here was not to bother going northbound, which I won't do for the duration of the construction on the boulevard. But more important is how being considerate of others and not running the barely yellow light only resulted in me having to spend eight minutes to traverse a distance that, had I just gotten out of my car and walked, I could have traveled in literally eight seconds. And all because some westbound car couldn't wait its turn as I had originally approached the intersection.

This is what turns otherwise nice people into cutthroat assholes behind the wheel, when consideration only results in getting screwed over. I will strive not to allow myself to succumb to that, but fate is not making it easy.


(Yes, I too am somewhat astounded that I spent the time writing about this, but I appreciate you reading all the way to the end anyway.)

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