Archive for Driving Behavior


Have you ever been somewhere in your car waiting for another vehicle to move so that you can move? Well, good luck. You have just entered the OBLIVION zone!

It feels like I’ve woken up in a post apocalyptic time when no one seems to be paying attention to anything more than an arm’s length in front of them — and that may be a generous distance. Maybe it’s a zombie thing, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Stepford Wives. Maybe the cause is environmental, too many vaccines growing up or hormones and pesticides in food? All I know is it’s epidemic and annoying as hell!

This past weekend, I was driving in Santa Monica, looking for street parking on Main Street. There was a chick in a Mini Cooper with her reverse gear lights on, meaning presumably she’s backing out of a parking space and her departure is imminent. Well, I sat in my car for a minute or 3, waiting for her to leave, but she didn’t move. After a few minutes, I inched forward so that I was by her side, trying to get her attention to find out if in fact she was leaving. She was looking down at her cell phone, texting. Okay, so I applaud her for not driving while she’s texting, but she wouldn’t look up. I could not break her concentration. I don’t believe she was ignoring me. She was simply oblivious to the fact that someone wanted her parking space. Even if she was hearing impaired, surely I was in her line of peripheral vision.

I gave a gentle tap to the horn to get her attention. She didn’t flinch. I did it again. No response. She just kept texting. I gave a full honk of the horn, still nothing. I unrolled the passenger window and called to her. NOTHING! Flailing arms couldn’t get her attention. No acknowledgment that I was even there. I’m pretty sure even the police in their parked car a few cars up from her could see me.

Okay, so perhaps by now, you would have given up and left. I couldn’t. I had to see how long it would take her to realize that someone was waiting for the parking space. I mean, it’s not as though she was parked. The engine was running; she had already shifted into reverse. Who knew she could text with such complete concentration all while keeping her foot on the brakes!

It took a few more minutes and finally she looked up, not because of anything I did but because I guess this compelling text marathon had at long last come to an end. Out of the parking space she zipped with little acknowledgement of me waiting for her.

How can people be so clueless? I see this everywhere now. How many times have you waited for someone to pull out of a parking space when you know they see you waiting there? I’ve seen people brush their hair, play with the radio, put makeup on, fidget around before they leave. In these instances they know someone is waiting because that car pulls up while they’re just getting in their car. It’s as though it’s deliberate!

I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, so be sure to comment on this post.

And so now begins a new workweek with more travails. Stayed tuned. Here’s a topic of discussion and perhaps a future post. Talk amongst yourselves… Clueless People Putting their lives and others in peril!

Have a great day.



Holiday Traffic — A Guide to Surviving – Holiday Driving Tips

We’re entering the holiday season and with that comes one of the many joys seldom discussed – holiday traffic. It’s a mixed Santa’s bag. For commuters going with the general direction of most commuting traffic, i.e. 405 South through the Sepulveda Pass, the good news is traffic actually improves with your commute. That is about all the good news there is however with holiday traffic. For those of us who have a “reverse” commute (if you can even call it that anymore) traffic actually gets worse at the end of the day during commuting hours. Why is that you ask? It’s because many people are off work and schools go on break. In preparation for the holidays, everyone is out bargain shopping, driving all over town, making traffic much worse. I submit to you, the better the economic climate, the worse the traffic. Hurray for our economic recovery. Bah humbug! What compounds the problem is the erratic driving that goes on during this time. People are distracted, stressed, and always it seems in a rush. I’m sure I’ll be reporting on that in the coming weeks and appropriately shaming people along the way.

So, with all that said, I offer you a traffic survival guide for the holidays, holiday driving tips. Heed my advice and you’ll hopefully avoid an accident and get through the holidays with less stress.

Be careful driving in a parking lot – this may be the worst place to be during the holidays. People seem to have the misconception that parking lots are racetracks — the dog tracks to be precise. It’s a dog eat dog world in a parking lot during the holidays. People believe the faster they go, the better the odds are that they’ll get premium parking. I prefer to park towards the back of the parking lot. It’s easier to get in and out and walking is good for you. When you pull out of a space, go slow and look carefully. People don’t typically stop to let you out on a good day, so don’t expect it on a holiday. Same applies to shopping carts! Just think of the lady who pushed me in Costco with her shopping cart … and it wasn’t even officially the holiday season yet! Do you part to take just one parking space. If you do see people who took 2 or more, take a picture and send it to me. I will properly shame them!

Rearrange your driving schedule – Okay, so I know this isn’t always possible, but try to rearrange your schedule to avoid peak times. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the worst traffic days of the year. Leave work early if you can (although it seems everyone is doing that), take the day off work whenever possible, or stick around wherever you are for the evening to wait for the masses to get wherever they’re going. I’m a big fan of Happy Hour after work, but don’t overdo it. The last thing you need is to get a DUI. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Prepare for the worst – If you are stuck in traffic, be prepared. Bring plenty of music, a good book on tape, practice breathing and isometrics. Hey the latter will help you burn those Thanksgiving calories!

Be vigilant – Note — I said vigilant not a vigilante! You have to be both an offensive and defensive driver during these times. Everyone else is distracted so you can’t be. So, when the asshole cuts you off, let it roll off of you. At least you saw him coming. I saw a license plate frame the other day on a yellow sportscar. It read something like, “Okay so I cut you off. Relax, it’s just a lane change.” I couldn’t get the camera out quickly enough because he was driving too fast. (Be sure to take a look at my post on what the color of your car says about you.) Don’t flip the bird. Don’t start a fight. Don’t pull out a gun. Try not to even mouth what you’re thinking — people are accustomed to reading lips at least when it comes to curse words. I know this from experience. Exercise kindness this holiday season and who knows, maybe the Karma Santa will be extra good to you.

Let someone else do the driving – Nah, I take that back. Bad idea. Unless you’re a lousy driver, only you can control the outcome of driving in chaos. Well, actually you can only control it to a point.

Consult with Sigalert – This is my bible. I always consult with it before heading out anywhere. It helps me know whether or not to avoid certain routes or if there’s no way to avoid a situation, at least I’ll be prepared.

Be safe out there!

Zen Master Marci

Can you Imagine Driving in a City Where Stepford Wives are Driving?

Sorry for the delay in my post, but I just returned from spending a weekend in Tucson, Arizona. I witnessed something I don’t think I’ve ever seen on the roads in Los Angeles — an open lane, I mean wide open. The lane was under construction more than 1/4 mile up the road. There was a sign that read “Merge Left — Lane Closed Ahead.” We know those signs. They’re on every other road we traverse in Los Angeles. The funny thing is people were actually heeding the message, not at the front of the lane where it was closed, but about 1/4 mile back. Do you get what I’m saying? The lane was wide open with NO cars. What was an even more bizarre sight to see, the cars in the left lane were lined up that 1/4 mile distance one right behind the next. No one was vying to get as close to the front of the right lane as possible before merging. No one was attempting to cut anyone off because they couldn’t wait their turn. I’ve truly never seen anything like it driving in Los Angeles! I wanted to take a picture, but it wasn’t safe and of course being the driving trailblazer that I am, I drove up to the front of the right lane before merging. I was the only driver who dared. I have to confess, it was enormously satisfying to bypass all the traffic in the left lane in mere seconds. What can I say; I’m a Los Angeleno through and through.

This experience left me feeling like I was in a parallel universe where people not only obey the rules of the road, but they also take on a Stepford Wife demeanor. They slow down when someone wants to change lanes. They let people in ALL THE TIME. They use their signals. I will say, I saw one car not signal on the road, but he had a NY license plate. It wasn’t such a big deal though because everyone drives so slowly already!

Are all Tucsonans exceptionally considerate? Or perhaps all Los Angelenos are just rude? It’s stress. Clearly, we drive in a city that is bursting at the seams. It’s a natural response to want to get out of the situation and move ahead as quickly as possible. We’re so programmed to drive offensively, it’s just become second nature to be impatient when we have to wait.

When I returned home to Los Angeles and got in my car, I decided to see how long I could drive like a Tucsonan. It was a test. I would not outpace the speed of traffic on any road I traveled. I would let people in my lane. I already do signal, so that’s not an issue. But, I would be patient and considerate. And so I was … for at least an hour.


Getting Through Costco – A Microcosm of Life on the Road in Los Angeles

All this for a $5 roast chicken!

All this for a $5 roast chicken!

Yesterday against my better judgment, I found myself shopping at Costco. It was late Sunday afternoon, just an hour before closing, which on a normal day means I can pretty much zip in and out quickly without too much stress. Apparently not yesterday. Maybe it was due to daylight savings time. We were all somehow thrown off our regular schedule. All I wanted was a roasted chicken for dinner.

I typically shop at the Culver City/Marina Del Rey Costco location. The traffic at this location is undoubtedly the worst of any Costco location. I challenge you to find one that’s worse. There are simply too many cars and people in too concentrated of an area. When that happens, as we all know, people get stressed and all hell breaks loose. The Lincoln/Washington intersection and surrounding streets feel the stress day and night. It’s become one of the top gridlock areas on the Westside. It can take 10 minutes or more just to get through that intersection during the height of rush hour. The parking lot is a hazard in itself. I’d like to know who designed the layout. Plus, there’s hardly ever any parking so when a car sees an available spot, he guns the engine to get there before someone else beats him, thereby creating an atmosphere akin to Nascar, complete with fights.

Yesterday, it all started when I pulled into the parking lot. Those who drive into the parking lot do not have stop signs. Those who are struggling to get out of the lot DO have stop signs; however, no one pays attention to them. This is where my first near collision occurred. I pulled into the Costco driveway and proceeded to turn left inside the parking lot. A woman (dare I say in a black colored SUV) just didn’t want to wait to turn. She missed hitting me by a fraction of an inch. (I’m picturing Maxwell Smart saying, “Missed it by that much!”) Collision #1 was thankfully averted.

I then proceeded to the end of the parking lot as people tend not to fight over parking spaces there and I don’t mind walking. This parallels my driving behavior on the road as I often drive out of my way to avoid a bad traffic situation. It’s just easier.

I worked my way through the hoards of people, headed to the back of the store, ready to pick up my roasted chicken only to discover there are none left. There were about 25 people standing around waiting for someone to put out more chickens. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This trip could not be in vain. I felt like I was stuck in one of those police blocks on the freeway where everyone is at a standstill and has someplace to be, but they can’t go. So, instead, they inch forward to get as close to the front as possible so they take off just as soon as its possible. We looked like cattle. I almost started mooing. Then it got nasty. Some people pushed their way to the front. Others patiently waited. The chickens finally arrived and one by one they were yanked away. I did get my chicken. It was then time to navigate through the store, down the aisles (aka mean streets), and head to the check out area, the next hurdle.

As I worked my way through the store, I was going down the main artery and a woman with a shopping cart on a side aisle cut me off! She went right in front of me, actually put her arm out and pushed me backwards so she could get ahead. I was stunned. I looked at her and said, “Are you kidding me?” She glared at me, continued on, plowed ahead pushing her way through without any regard for anyone else. I can only imagine what she’s like in a car. The funny thing is she looked like the sort of person who would be hauling her 6 grandchildren in a minivan. Incongruous. If this made the news, the headline would have been Grandma loses it in Costco. Had we been in cars and ended up in a collision, I do believe the police would have ticketed her, maybe even arrested her!

Life, however, sometimes has an interesting way of equalizing these things and redeeming one’s faith in humanity. The lines at the front were exceedingly long, so I picked one and just waited. The lady in line in front me noticed that I had one item and offered to let me go before her. So did the person in front of her and the next person and the next person, until I was at the front of the line, able to check out and go on my merry way.

The exit from the parking lot was not bad all things considered as I was well positioned to exit given my parking location.

We live in this urban jungle called Los Angeles. We love what the city has to offer. We go about our every day lives, but because of overpopulation, too many cars, no good alternative means of transportation, it’s not easy to get things done. It often takes far longer to do errands than if you were in say Pleasantville. This endless hustle and bustle causes stress and makes people do things they might not otherwise be inclined to do. On the other hand, it may just give them another avenue to express who they truly are.

Drive safely out there, that includes shopping carts. Have a good week!


P.S. Costco really does have the best tasting roasted chicken. They didn’t pay me to say that. I wish they would!