Let the anticlimactic Carmageddon be an inspiration

07/21/2011

A couple of months ago, I arranged a trip for my son to visit some family friends in Colorado. It was his first trip on an airplane by himself, so there was a lot of anxiety for both of us. Soon after his ticket was booked, talk about Carmageddon began — it was to be the worst traffic nightmare that apparently Southern California had ever seen, and my anxiety level went through the roof. Because my son was supposed to return to California on Saturday during the Carmageddon crisis, I made alternate plans to avoid the traffic by booking a hotel room for Friday and Saturday nights with a plan to leave early Sunday morning.

I headed down to Los Angeles early that weekend, leaving on Friday morning to watch a trial and then head to the hotel to do some work. Once I got there, I started watching Sig Alerts for traffic. Early afternoon traffic was fine.

Early evening traffic was also running smoothly. Later in the evening once the 405 was shut down, the crisis was supposed to be in full swing, but didn’t materialize. Perhaps in the morning, the traffic nightmare would begin. But I was wrong. Apparently, everyone was wrong. For both Saturday and Sunday, Carmargeddon was just the boogey man of local highways.

Given that it took nearly three hours to get home the weekend before last via Highway 1, it was easy to believe that with a major section of highway shut down, traffic would be a disaster. But, evidently, thanks to the media saturation and word of mouth, people apparently listened and stayed off the freeways. For those who had to be on the road, it was quite the sight — getting around with ease throughout L.A. and around the region.

Now that the anticlimactic Carmageddon has come and gone, there may be a great lesson to be learned in all of this — that there is power in all of us working individually, yet together, to ease discomfort and frustration.

Over the years, we have become increasingly apathetic about making the world a better place. Many feel helpless, even hopeless at times, about whether things will ever change, so they don’t try. Others just don’t seem to care as long as they have their creature comforts. Our voices are muted when it comes to great injustices, from the wars in the Middle East to rising gas prices earlier this year and the bipartisan fighting over raising the national debt ceiling that could leave our country in financial jeopardy if the proposal is rejected. (The blatant hypocrisy over the debt ceiling reveals itself in the fact Congress and its GOP leaders raised the debt limit 19 times by nearly $4 trillion under the George W. Bush administration.) We choose ignorance and channel surfing over questioning the powers that be as the income disparity grows, the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the middle class disappearing. Where have the strong, vibrant voices and protests of the 1960s gone?

Unfortunately, unless each one of us will be affected on a personal, individual basis, it appears we don’t want to change our routines, to stir the muck, make a difference. But for those who feel powerless in general, let Carmageddon, or the lack thereof, prove what can be done if we just put our minds to it — there is much power in numbers. We can all agree, traffic is a pretty irritating situation in life and should be avoided, if possible, but it pales in comparison to the havoc being wreaked in politics and the disappointing and cumbersome future we are setting up for our children. If we can work together to prevent one major disaster from happening, we can certainly do it again to instill change and improve our lives.   

 

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