Archive for Driving in LA


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.



More Driving Quotes

By popular demand, here are some of my favorite driving quotes…

Just because you’re sober, don’t think you’re a good driver, Cookie.
– John Irving, Last Night in Twisted River

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.
Mac McCleary

It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.
– Author Unknown

The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
– Dudley Moore

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
– Dave Barry

Making a left turn in L.A. is one of the harder things you’re going to learn in life.
– Lawrence Kasdan

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.
– Comedian Jason Love

Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.
– Dan Rather

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
– Albert Einstein

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
– Robin Williams

And on that note, Happy Monday! Be safe out there.


Thanks for Checking Out My Blog!

fireworksWoo hoo! We did it! In the month of February (a short month I might add), I passed the 500 unique visitors number. 521 Visitors and 1,560 visits!

Thank you for checking out my blog and emailing me your comments. I love hearing from you and hope you continue to contact me.

Now, help me double that number in March. There are some fun posts coming — quizzes, surveys, the Red Light Shuffle Rap, video (soon) and as always my observations about driving in Los Angeles.

Drive safely and please don’t text and drive!


Goldilocks and the 3 Mechanics

Once upon a time a there was a little girl (for purposes of this post) named Goldilocks. She lived in an urban metropolis and was completely dependent upon her car for getting places. One day (today) her car broke down on her way to work and her plans for the day got royally screwed up! She’s had challenges in the past finding a mechanic that was just right. One was too expensive. Another was completely incompetent and a third was priced right, but just not quite good enough. Here’s the tale of her day so that she could carry on and get to the proverbial grandma’s house. Oh wait, that’s a different fairy tale.

This morning, I got in the car ready to head to the office and all of a sudden my car started convulsing. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to a mechanic, let alone drive all the way to the Valley.

I typically don’t go into the office Fridays, but today was one of those days where it was necessary. It’s a very busy time at work and I had multiple appointments scheduled. So, I went back home to make calls and develop work contingency plans in the event I can’t get this problem fixed quickly. I also needed to find a good mechanic.

Basically, I had 3 options.

Option #1: I could call AAA and get my car towed to the dealer. At least at the dealer I can get a loaner car. The last time I did this though, it took hours to get the tow truck. I didn’t have hours to spare if I was going to make it to work. I also don’t like going to the dealer since my service warranty ended. It’s as though they’re trying to make up for lost time since they weren’t collecting money from me for 4 years. To say they overcharge is a gross understatement and more often than not I have to bring the car back because they forgot to reset something. Frankly, I’m not so sure what they do is always needed either.

Option #2: I found an independent mechanic in the Valley whom I trust. He seems pretty knowledgeable and his prices are fair. He is certainly honest, which puts him way ahead of the pack. BUT … he’s not BMW certified, so I worry a little bit that I might be shortchanging my car at the expense of keeping the cost down. Driving to the Valley with this problem was clearly not an option today anyway.

Option #3: Find a new (good and honest) mechanic. Not an easy task. I did an Internet search for the area and found a shop fairly close. I checked out the YELP reviews and it sounded pretty good. So, I got back in the car, bobbing along as though I was driving on an unpaved back road somewhere in the desert. I was hoping my car wouldn’t explode or die along the way. I made it and was pretty pleased with what I encountered. It seemed that this mechanic was just right.

The owner of the shop was initially impressed with my knowledge of cars. That’s because when I got out of the car, I said, “I suspect I need a new engine coil.” Now, I don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about the inner workings of cars. In truth, I’m pretty ignorant about this stuff and I’m completely fine with that. When I listen to someone talk about cars, it’s as though it’s the teacher from the Peanuts series saying, “Wah wah wah wah wah.” As it turns out, I’ve encountered this problem before, hence my knowledge. He suspected I was right and would go ahead and order the part before he even examined the car to minimize my wait time. I was grateful and pleased.

As it turned out, I got my car back too late to make it to my last appointment of the day. But, all in all, despite missing work, I managed to make a little bit of lemonade out of a lemony kind of day. It’s not every day you find a good mechanic. And, this mechanic charged me half the price of what the dealer charged me for the exact same service.

…And we all lived happily ever after.

Marci aka Goldilocks



How to Save Endangered Los Angelenos

I realize I’m a day late in posting. Chock it up to a tryptophan haze. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I did and it was in part because traffic was surprisingly light over the holiday weekend. I could get places in a fraction of the time it usually takes me. Surface streets on the Westside were uncharacteristically light. What a pleasure. It seems a lot of people went out of town. But alas, they’re all back now.

This leads me to a campaign that I’ll be launching. I’d like to know what you think. You see, traffic was light because all of the Los Angeles transplants went home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Los Angeles has grown to impossible proportions over the last couple of decades due to these transplants. They have invaded our city and surrounding areas and we are feeling it on the roads.

I often say that native Los Angelenos are endangered. It seems many of the natives have fled our overcrowded city. I know it’s true in my family. Between my siblings and first cousins alone, I’m the only one who remained in Los Angeles. Our fair city has become a melting pot of transplants. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not an ethnic, racial or cultural statement for that matter. I love living in a diverse city with many of the world’s nations represented here. It makes for an endlessly rich and interesting life in the big city. That said, I could, however, do without the seemingly endless supply of people who have turned L.A. into an adjective — they’re so “L.A.” They want to get discovered, become famous and live the Hollywood-LA life. BUT … I digress. My point is, I believe in the same way that Alaskans have fought for indigenous rights, so should native Los Angelenos.

Since the traffic nightmare we live with every day of our lives is really not of our making, I therefore submit to you that we should start a campaign to grant native born Los Angelenos full access to the carpool (HOV) lanes regardless of whether they have any passengers in their cars! Granted, there are issues to resolve before taking on the campaign. For example, should we perhaps grant native status to those who have lived here at least 30 years or more? Should all native Californians be afforded this right or is this something we should reserve for just Los Angeles as we put up with the lion’s share of traffic? I’m not saying that other parts of California are without bad traffic. I am saying that I believe the worst congestion is in Los Angeles. In fact, I read just last week that the 110 Freeway has the worst gridlock in the country.

Let me know what you think.

Marci, your native activist

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

The Rain Paradox – things that make you go hmm

Wash Me

Wash Me










Have you ever noticed when it rains a clean car gets dirty and a dirty car gets clean? See if you can guess which way it went for my car Thursday night.



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.


Stay Away From the White Light!

White Light

Stay Away From the White Light


I’m driving along on the 405 South as I do nearly every day of my life. I can see traffic slowing down ahead. I’m in the fast lane going along at a good clip. The car in front of me is setting the pace. Thankfully, I’m keeping a safe distance between us. Suddenly he changes lanes, not slowing down first. If anything, he’s accelerating at a faster pace. He also doesn’t signal and zips along oblivious to anyone else on the road. Meanwhile, the lane I remain in is at a dead stop right in front of him. Has this ever happened to you? There was a great car chase scene exhibiting this in Against All Odds. Not a great movie, great chase scene though. One of the best. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. Leave this to the movies. Don’t let life imitate art.

It seems someone is trying to invoke the red light shuffle in a dangerous way! There’s no red light. Maybe a white light cause you’re headed for a collision of significant proportions if you didn’t keep a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you. There’s no gentle shift. This just is not good, but it seems to be a common occurrence in Los Angeles.

I was okay. Thankfully, I had enough space. I was able to stop without issue, but the car behind me was not as well positioned. I saw this Mercedes in my rear view mirror slamming on his brakes behind me, swerving to the left and right hoping to make a lane change but couldn’t while I watched him in my rear view mirror. I prayed he would be able to stop and I’m not a praying person. Thankfully, the driving Gods were on my side. He was able to stop without hitting me. I started patting my chest as if I was trying to regulate the beat and return it to a normal pace. Deep breaths. I looked at him in the rear view mirror and I’m sure he was doing a Hail Mary himself. He also put his hand to his chest. I’m grateful he had a later model Mercedes thereby having antilock brakes. I’ve been hit before by a car that did not and it wasn’t pretty.

Here’s the thing. There needs to be a protocol, rules of driving etiquette if you will. You have a responsibility to yourself and every other driver. When you drive irresponsibly, you might be lucky yourself, but you’re putting everyone else in danger. I’ve experienced this. I went through 2 miserable years of pain, surgery and rehab for an accident that was caused by a guy texting (another very dangerous issue). He lost control of his car because he took his eyes off the road for a split second. Actually, according to a witness (oddly an ambulance driver), it was caused by a reckless driver in a van who cut off a driver and started a chain of events that lead to a 3 car crash. The van drove on unscathed and possibly oblivious to whole thing.  Interestingly, both incidents happened in exactly the same place — the 405 heading south near Santa Monica Blvd. a frequent spot for collisions. Traffic tends to slow down here.

I hate to have a somber moment in here, but this was a reminder, a daily reminder for those of us who hit the road each day for our commute. Please be safe. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. You might think you have plenty of time to stop, but maybe the car behind you does not. It’s called Paying It Forward.

Have a great weekend.


Halloween in L.A.

Only in L.A.!

Only in L.A.!