Matt's Blog

The 101 Gets Its Swirve On


Los Angeles is full of quirks and oddities, from the people to the landscape to the history- Los Angeles is wacko. People-wise, there’s the celebrities, the wanna-be celebrities, and then the just plain lost-souls. Last week I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and a mid-forties year-old man, with a dirty, scraggily beard, walked past me. He was listening to a WalkMan and kind of disco-dancing to the music. And he was wearing a short-cut, pink sequin dress with white high, high heels. Nice hairy legs. He winked at me as he strutted by.

Another fascinating characteristic of Los Angeles is the highways. Six lane behemoths on each side with high volume traffic endlessly flowing to and from. Ten minutes after a brief rainshower the Santa Monica freeway will be dry. The sheer quantity of passing automobiles blow-dries the road.

In the ten years I’ve lived in this city I’ve seen incidents that reaffirm the prominence freeways and highways play in the character of Los Angeles. But today I witnessed a really cool spectacle.

I was whipping along the 101 South, just passing Ventura Boulevard’s exit, when all of a sudden a Highway Patrol car jets in front of me. His lights flashing like crazy. I obviously slow down as do the other five cars driving parallel to me.

The cop starts weaving from the furthest left-lane all the way to the furthest right-lane, then back again, back-and-forth, back-and-forth.

I’ve seen this maneuver before. The Highway Patrol does this to slow down traffic and break it up. They control traffic flow and prevent traffic congestion by spacing it all out.

But he kept going back and forth, back and forth, and all the while he was slowing down. I looked in the rear-view mirror and masses of cars were stacking up behind me. The scene became a little tense; I noticed cars in the way back cutting in between other cars; people didn’t see the cop, they just thought they were hitting heavy traffic and they were getting frustrated.

And then he brought us to a complete stop. The cop parks his car sideways across the road. I’m sitting on the 101 freeway and I’m thinking, “Damn. An accident. They’re shutting down the freeway. I’m screwed.”

And then the cop jumps out of his squad car, runs in front of it and disappears. A second later I see him pick up a massive 4 by 6 plank of wood. He runs to the side of the highway and heaves it onto the hillside. He hops in his car, swerves some more, stops and does the same again. Picks up another huge plank of wood, lumbers with it to the side of the road and tosses it.

So a bundle of Los Angeles traffic slowly followed this lone police officer as he picked up and removed debris from the 101 freeway. The guy did a helluva job. That can’t be an easy thing, singlehandedly bringing the 101 freeway to a stand still so you can pick up crap that fell from some idiot’s truck because he didn’t properly secure his junk.

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