In just a couple of weeks I will be marking my 8th year of living in Los Angeles.
And for that entire time I have worked in the same area of the City, which is across town from where we live, so yes, I commute to work everyday.
At first I only took the freeways since I did not know any other way around LA back then. And anyone who has read my blog for very long knows how much I hate the freeways, so after a couple of months of freeway driving, with Patrick's help I found a new way to work.....surface streets!! Even though it would be ideal if I worked on the same side of town that I lived on, I don't, so I just go with it. As someone told me a long time ago, you have to deal with things in life as they are, not as you wished they were.
For the most part I really don't mind my drive, it is 14 miles one way and usually takes me an hour each way. Since I am on surface streets, each day I get to drive through some really nice areas of LA. In that short 14 miles I pass through Lincoln Height, Chinatown, Echo Park Silverlake,West Hollywood and end up in Beverly Hills.
Some of these areas are part of the older parts of Los Angeles and so the neighborhoods I get to see everyday have some beautiful old homes and I am finding in my studies of LA, there is so much history in these areas.
But I must tell those of you who have no idea what it is like to commute to work... commuting is not for sissies!! Take this past Friday for instance. I had
just started my drive home that Friday afternoon and I could already tell the traffic was not going to be too bad.I had just turned on Melrose Ave, which makes up 5 miles of my drive and had only gone a few blocks when all the sudden the traffic in front of me started slowing down.Usually I drive with my windows down because I prefer the outside air to AC. Just as I was coming up to the traffic I started hear this sound that I can honestly say I will never forget. I was a cross between a scream and a loud sorrowful moan. It is really had to describe it but it literally gave me chills, and I did not even know what it was yet. I kept looking around trying to see what direction it was coming from. There were people crossing the intersection just up ahead and they kept looking back over their shoulder and when they got to the other side of the street they just stood on the corner and looked back in the direction they had come from. Then suddenly the car in front of me pulled up enough I could get a look at what everyone was looking at...and I found the source of the sound I kept hearing...it was a woman lying face down in the street....she and her bike had been hit by an SUV...her bike had been broken in two and the front part was laying close to the middle of the intersection and the back part was laying at least 8 feet in the other direction. It really was a horrible thing to see and what made it even more horrible was...NO ONE was trying to help her!! Every one was just standing there or sitting in their cars looking at her laying there in the street but none of them was trying to see about her. I could not
believe it. The way the cars were parked on my right and how slowly the traffic was moving at that point there was no where for me to park my car. By the time I did
reach the side street where I could pull out of traffic, the police and an ambulance pulled up. At least someone had called the police! The entire weekend,the image of the woman laying in the street and the sound she was making would not leave my mind. And the fact that no one was helping her made it even worse to me.
Now fast forward a couple of days to yesterday, Monday. After a really fun weekend
I had just dropped the nephew off at the High School, it was the first day of school, and I had started heading for work. I had reached the Lincoln Heights part of my journey and traffic was busy but moving along really nice. On this part of my commute,the traffic is 2 lanes both ways winding through an old neighborhood of homes and store front businesses. The light up head turned red so both the lanes
going my direction started slowing down. As we started stopping I could see
I was going to be in the middle of an intersection with the road I was on and a side street so I stopped just before I got to the intersection so I would not be blocking it. To my right there was a woman in a large black car waiting on the side street to
make a turn onto the street I was on. Since I had stopped she had plenty of room
to come from the side street into the traffic.She pulled out where she was directly in front of my car(I was in the right lane)and I could tell she needed to go
in the opposite direction as we were going so she would be turning left into the
traffic going in the opposite direction. She had taken so long to do what she needed to do that the light had turned green and my traffic was starting to move again, except she was blocking my lane. And all the sudden like I was sitting there watching a 3D movie, she hit the gas and plowed into the car that had just passed me on my left that was going the same direction as I was. He never saw her, she was in a large car and he was driving a smaller car. He was traveling probably 25 miles
an hours or so and she slammed into him right beind his rear passenger door. When she hit him,his car immediately swerved to the right and hit the car that had been traveling in front of me before we stopped at the light, his car pushed her car aside andhe kept going and slammed into one of the store front businesses.I sat there and truly could not believe what I had just witnessed. The lady in the black car ended up across the street blocking traffic that was coming toward us. There were literally car parts everywhere, large car parts!! I immediately pulled on the
side street and got out to make sure everyone was ok. People who had been standing
there waiting to cross at the light was already running toward the guy she had hit and the lady he had struck before the hit the store front. As I ran toward the intersection,the first thing I noticed was that the traffic was not stopping. People were driving right through the intersection, swerving to miss the car that was blocking everything and they were driving over all the parts of the cars that
were laying in the street like they were not even there.
The first person I got to was the kid driving the car that had ended up in the store front. He had gotten out of his car and was trying to talk on his cell phone. He was not speaking English but he did when I started talking to him. You could tell he was in shock. I looked him over good and made sure he was not bleeding or hurt. He told me he was ok. I then headed over to the lady who had been driving the car in front of me. She was shaken up but fine. The lady who had cause the accidentwas standing next to her car with a group of people and she appeared to be ok too. I stood there and looked around and thought how amazing things had changedfor us who were sitting in traffic on our way to work that morning. In just a brief instant, everything changed.Thankfully, this time,it was the carsthat were messed up.
Everyday Patrick and I both commute to work, in different directions. Everyday when
we both get home safely I always say a little prayer of thanksgiving that we both made it home ok. For those of you who live close to where you work, be thankful and don't take it for granted.For the rest of who who commute everyday,be careful. And all those who do commute,I am sure you will agree with me that commuting is not of sissies!!