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September 16, 2009

Los Angeles: It's got a groove, it's got meaning

1) I'm on a Mexican Radio
Listen, it was weird enough when one day I'm listening to Rick Dees in the morning on 93.9 and then the next day I flip on the radio and it's Mexican love songs. Well, I figure, it's FM. It happens.

But then last week I go to listen to traffic on the ones on KFWB News 98 and all you hear is DR. FREAKING LAURA. Listen, I don't mind Dr. Laura, she's fine, whatever, but she's supposed to be over on KFI with all tho other talkalots. I don't listen to talk radio, I listen to news radio -- I have spent the past 14 years flipping between 980 and 1070 to get traffic on the ones and on the fives. Why would they do this to me? Why would they remove half of my news and traffic? I've taken it very personally. This is Los Angeles. We have traffic needs, people. Once every ten minutes is not enough.

This is why people are abandoning radio and buying those subscription radio thingies, which I refuse to do since I own a car that any five-year-old can break into and steal the radio. I had to listen to traffic on KOST 103 this morning! What is the world coming to?

2) The city of Angels is going bankrupt
Explain to me why we've got liquid gold flowing from the city coffers when it comes to hosting celebrity funerals or basketball team parades, but the city now cannot find the money to open City Hall more than twice a month?

I didn't vote for our Mayor, I thought he seemed slippery and a little seedy, and I did a lot of "I told you so..." to my friends when his salacious private affairs became public. Mostly I just wish someone who knew basic math and accounting would run for Mayor. In the meantime, can we hire Bob from AccountTemps to come in and do some line item auditing while our Mayor is off attending the opening of yet another envelope?

3) To the left, to the left ... no, to the right, to the right.
One thing that is free and easily available to all Californians -- yes, even those living and driving in Los Angeles! -- is the California's Driver's Manual. I am often amazed at the crazyass things I see on the road, but the absolute top of the crazymaking list is the way people respond to emergency vehicles.

It is not legal, normal or sane to come to a complete stop in the middle of the road, or the middle of an intersection, or in the middle of the freeway when you see sirens coming.

Here's what usually happens on side streets when people see sirens coming:

A: They move over to the right a little bit but keep driving because their destination is more important than the ambulance's destination.
B: They stop completely no matter where they are on the road, including in the far left lane, in the middle of an intersection or directly IN FRONT of the emergency vehicle.
C: They freak out and drive into the person next to them.

In case you're wondering, none of those options are the preferred method of dealing with sirens. On side streets (meaning non-freeway roads) you are supposed to move carefully and expediently to the right side of the road and then stop. STOP. All the way stop, not "just drive a little slower than usual, weaving around those who obeyed the law and stopped so that you can be first in line once the ambulance passes."

The actual driver's handbook text reads:

Emergency Vehicles

You must yield the right of way to any police car, fire engine,ambulance, or other emergency vehicle using a siren and red lights. Drive as close to the right edge of the road as possible and stop until the emergency vehicle(s) has passed. However, never stop in an intersection. If you are in an intersection when you see an emergency vehicle, continue through the intersection and then drive to the right as soon as you can and stop. Emergency vehicles often use the wrong side of the street to continue on their way.

On the freeway it's a whole 'nother ball of insanity.

Twice this month alone I have seen a procession of police cars with lights and sirens blazing coming up on the freeway. They usually come in a line on the far left lane (the number one lane) and I am not sure why this freaks people out to no end. I mean it freaks them out more than rain, even. I saw people come to a dead stop in the same lane police were trying to use to get to their big crime scene. Cars! Coming to a dead stop! In the number one lane!


The rest of the freeway experienced a mass panic attack, too. Some people had actual brains and used them, moving carefully and expediently over into the right lanes of the freeway.

Some people came to a stop no matter what lane they were in.

Some people, we can only guess, spontaneously exploded.

Here is what the LAPD says about dealing with emergency vehicles:

If you hear a siren or see flashing lights on a freeway, you should:

* Pull over to the right when safely able to do so;
* Continue to move forward at a safe speed; and
* If the operator of the emergency vehicle requests you to move in a certain direction via the PA system, please do so expeditiously.

· DON’T panic!

· DON’T stop on the freeway!

So that's my little Public Service Announcement for this Wednesday morning. I had plenty of time to compose it in my mind on the way here, seeing as they've stolen my News 980 away.

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Edited to add: I've had the comments off for so long I forgot that everytime I mention anything not stellar or perfect or peachy about my favorite city, people say things like, "Well you should move instead of complaining." Why on earth would someone leave that as a comment? Complaining is my cardio, people. And what normal person doesn't complain about where they live? Complaining about your city and making fun of your fellow city-dwellers, especially the drivers, is one of life's few certainties and pleasures!

Posted by laurie at September 16, 2009 9:43 AM