I just spent a week in Los Angeles. Oy. What a massive schlep. I was in Pasadena interviewing a couple at their home (blog post to come) at two in the afternoon on Saturday. That went really well.
I was invited to an event hosted by a prominent family in Irvine at six that same evening. Irvine is forty eight miles away from Pasadena. I did my research and according to Google and the car’s GPS the drive could take either an hour and fifteen minutes or two hours depending on traffic and the route I chose. I opted for the physically longer 210 freeway rather than the shorter but more congested 5.
I left Pasadena at three thirty, but by five forty five I had only managed to get as far as Azusa sixteen miles away. Two hours and fifteen minutes divided by sixteen miles is… incredibly frustrating. Remember, this was the less congested route. The longer I remained on the road the later my estimated time of arrival in Irvine became. Not only would I not get to the event on time, but I had reached the point where the event would be over by the time I arrived. I pulled off the road, stretched my legs, and took a deep breath of LA smog.
At that moment I looked around at the ten lanes of bumper-to-bumper congestion and had a few thoughts. People live here? And they do this every day? Really? This is a Saturday afternoon, not rush hour. This isn’t downtown or even a particularly dense suburb. It’s Azusa. I think Azusa must be an ancient Greek term for, “please, just shoot me in the head.”
I looked at the ads for new cars on the side of the freeway. Power. Prestige. Speed. Excitement. Freedom. Yep… that’s exactly what it’s like to be in a car in LA. And with only five short years of easy low interest payments! Where do I sign up?
In an environment as desolate as this you wouldn’t think parking would be a problem, but here’s a multi-story garage on the side of the freeway. Evidently someone with a fair bit of cash decided that a parking deck was really critical here.
Of course, there are alternative methods of transportation in Azusa. You could drive to the train station. There are even bicycle storage lockers on offer, although I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out how to get to the station on foot without breaking the law or getting killed. I was not successful in my attempt. Then I thought about where I might be coming from or going to if I weren’t in a car in this environment. Transit here is a prosthetic device to help motorists puddle jump over the freeway traffic from one sad suburban wasteland to (hopefully) someplace slightly better. Or maybe Metro put the station there with the impossible dream that someday the good people of Azusa would build an actual town.
When I got back to my host’s home in Van Nuys some hours later I took in the coveted single family homes, front lawns, and backyard swimming pools with the full knowledge of the curse that comes with them. I immediately cancelled the other appointments I had that week. Life’s too short to drive in LA.