Monday, November 24, 2008

Southern Hospitality - L.A. Style

Los Angeles drivers get a bad rap. For good reason. The traffic is atrocious, and everyone is in a bigger hurry than you.  A friend of mine once told me a quote by George Carlin, "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?" This mentality is exactly how Los Angeles drivers act. I thought I had them all figured out until these two occurrences happened:

Occurrence 1
Rush hour traffic on a 4 lane street (2 lanes in each direction). Stop light turns green, and maybe 2 or 3 of the cars in line make it through before the light turns red again. (Thank you, construction workers!) I'm the second car back in the left lane. I notice that a pedestrian is crossing the street in front of us - legally - but he is moving slow... very, very slow.

I immediately have sympathy for this man. He looks to be in his early 70's, thin, hunched over, and is able to walk at a shuffle pace. Just as I had expected, the man was only 1/2 across the street when the light turns green for us. I panic! The cars were going to start honking at each other to go, the cars in the front may be in too big a hurry to notice that someone was still crossing the street, or worse, the man was going to obey the light and stop moving.

I hold my breath.


Not a peep from any of the previously-overly anxious drivers surrounding me.  Not a honk.  Not a beep.  Nothing. Every one of them just patiently wait for the elderly gentleman to make it all the way across before we are free to move.  By the time he reaches the sidewalk at the other side, the light had already turned red. We had to wait through another cycle. I then realize that not a single car had made it through the previous light. Not a one. And no one was honking. Unbelievable.

Occurrence 2
There was a homeless guy moving his three trash bags full of questionable stuff across the street. He could only carry two at a time. It was clear to me that the guy would have to carry two trash bags, wait for the WALK light again, cross, wait for the WALK light AGAIN, and then carry the last bag across. How many lights this guy had already crossed this way so far, I don't know. But, I was saddened that I couldn't do anything to help him. My 4-year old BoopaLoop and I watched as the light turned to WALK for him.

The next thing I know a man hops out of his car next to me. He was the driver of this car! He runs up, has a few words with the homeless guy, runs over to the trash bags, picks up two, and hurries across the walkway to deposit the bags for him while homeless guy carried the other one

Several cars honked at him in applause.


These two moments remind me that sometimes a few rotten, spoiled, loud, obnoxious apples make the rest of the beautiful bunch look bad.


All Things BD said...

Hold onto those nuggets. They will serve you well as you travel on Thanksgiving. :)

gingela5 said...

Oh those are neat things to witness. Traffic and drivers are probably just as bad in Oklahoma (at least where I live) as it is in LA.

Don said...

Many of us are feeling humble and sympathetic now. Hard times will do that. Let's hope we can remember the compassion when times improve.

Your vignettes moved me.

Michele said...

Tiffany those were two really beautiful 'occurances'. I can't envision them happening. Anyplace. I guess we are all jaded by the bad drivers we see, and hear. Thanks for reminding us that there are caring people out there, and that we hope they are most of us.