Thursday, February 16, 2006


I'm a little cranky this morning.

Yesterday, I had a meeting in West Hollywood at 9:30 a.m. I left the house around 8:45ish and set off to make the trek over the Hollywood Hills via Laurel Canyon. I've taken other routes to our WeHo office before. They all take the same amount of time and this one is the most direct.

Here's what sucks about the morning "rush" over Laurel: start, stop. Wait. Start, stop. Wait. Start, ooh! 5 miles per hour, sweet! No, hang on. Stop. Wait.

Imagine how much fun that is with a stick shift. I'll just go ahead and tell you. NOT F'IN VERY FUN.

Oh, and did I mention, this whole start/stop/never leave 1st gear NONSENSE is totally happening while being pointed uphill for 30 minutes? Good times.

So here I am just trying to make it over the hill. I have a rad mix of new music in my car, I've allowed enough time for this bullshit, so I'm already proactively managing the stress a drive like this would usually generate. I'm doing alright. Until, that is, my gas light goes on.

Uh oh. But wait, that's just because you're pointed uphill and all the gas is sloshing to the back, right? Right. But then it keeps going down. When it started kissing the bottom of the gauge, I started to panic, just a little. When my car started revving really high trying to start & go (only to STOP 2 seconds later, GAH! I hate driving in LA!!!), then I really started to worry. So I pulled over and called the person I was meeting with to tell her I might not make it.

Eventually, I made it over the hill. The downhill stretch was much better, although now I'm doing a balancing act between my clutch and my brake, instead of my clutch and the gas. I made it to the first gas station I saw, spent approximately $400 filling up the tank (Y'ALL, SERIOUSLY, THE GAS PRICES!), and made it to my meeting 30 minutes late. The woman I was meeting with was really cool and sympathetic. I bought her a coffee for putting up with my car drama.

After my meeting when I tried to drive my car again, it wouldn't accelerate and would only rev really high. It would go, so I was able to get to the office and then to a mechanic. I was fairly certain that my little trek over Laurel had trashed my transmission.

Since living in LA, I've had my tires replaced, my brake pads replaced and now, I am having my clutch replaced. This town is wrecking my car.

The potholes are out of control, and it hasn't even really started raining yet. If one pothole blows out your tire (yes, there are several in the city that bad), then the city has to pay for the repairs/replacement, but what about when the repeated little bumps in all the rest of the potholes just accelerate the general wear & tear on your tires? Yeah. The city didn't pay for my new tires.

The stop & go traffic isn't so hard on the brakes, but what is hard on them is the collection of idiots in this town that like to make really sudden, dangerous moves that cause you to SLAM on the brakes every, oh, say once a month? Right after I got my brake pads replace, some dude pulled out in front of me suddenly despite the fact that I was cruising at around 35? 40? on a fairly major street. SLAM. My new brakes helped prevent an accident... but they're squeaking again.

The stop & go traffic has, however, apparently wreaked havoc on my clutch. No matter how carefully you try and dance from the clutch to gas to clutch to brake without riding the clutch, it gets hard. I can't count how many times I start in first in a given commute. On the highway. All I know is, when there's no traffic, it takes 17 minutes from office to home. With traffic? About 50.

I don't know what's to be done about it. The idea of taking the Metro is appealing except for the fact that I often work late and don't love the idea of sharing a bus with the freaks of LA. At least when the miscreants are in their cars, I can't smell them. Oh, and I don't fear for my life either. I don't know anyone from work anywhere near my neighborhood, so carpooling isn't a good option. I'd love to work from home, but it's not a practical option for someone with lots of meetings and two direct reports to manage.

So in the meantime, I just vent, get my car fixed, crank the tunes, and keep on driving.


Anonymous said...

ride a bike...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dinah said...

BWAH Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa! That's awesome. Oh, my sides. Best laugh I've had all day. Really, I... wait, are you serious? Dude, have you ever BEEN to LA? Obviously not. Did you miss the bits concerning crazy drivers and potholes? Do you WANT me to die? Why do you hate me so?

Although, in fairness, this is an option I should have addressed, so let me do so now.
1) My commute is approximately 13 miles each way. If you MapQuest it, it says it should take approximately 20 minutes. In traffic, it takes 45 - 50. On the highway. I'm not allowing 2.5 hours each way just so I can bike on side streets with potholes.
2) I actually often need my car during the day for meetings.
3) I have a fairly high-profile, professional gig. In other words, showing up to work in sweats all disheveled & reeking of toxic sweat is not an option.
4)What else? Or is that enough for you? My Anonymous poster? What were you thinking, that I was just another single car driver who's hell-bent on destroying the environment regardless of her options? That my concerns for my safety on the bus or my practicality issues with your "ride a bike" idea were just lame excuses? It is, isn't it?

Erika said...

Seriously. Ride a bike? I could do that too if I wanted to show up for story assignments soaking wet and red-faced. I'd be fab.

But I could so relate to this post, D. Atlanta traffic isn't much better, and I'm so grateful that I moved closer to work so I don't have much traffic. On the other hand, two weeks ago, I had to go to a story north of the city, against traffic, and it took me two and half hours. Grrr. I feel your pain.

Jeff Evans said...

At least now we know why everyone in Hollywood leases outrageously expensive cars, that way they can tear them up and it's still considered normal wear and tear. I mean, if you're going to be trapped in traffic, you might as well be trapped in something pretty and expensive, no?

phil said...

a) Mad props for driving a stick shift, especially in LA traffic. Not fun. I presume (hope!) you have more fun places to drive too. Angeles Crest or somesuch.

b) That kind of driving is hell on clutches (especially) and brakes. No two ways about it. The Laurel trip obviously fried your clutch, although if it's any comfort, it was probably on its last legs anyway.

The only suggestion I have is to spend a lot of time studying Google maps and try to find clever and unlikely shortcuts. But you probably already did that.