The One About Driving in L.A.

Radical thought for the day:  It’s more important to pay attention to what is going on in front of you than behind you, when you are driving.

I was behind a Prius on Mulholland Drive yesterday, for what ended up being an eternal stretch between Coldwater and Laurel Canyons.  I have often wondered if Priuses have gas pedals at all.  This driver was lollygagging along, maybe 20 miles per hour, hitting the brakes on every curve, car in front of him nowhere in sight.  I thought I couldn’t get more fed up with him when he stuck his cigarette out the window and flicked the ashes.  “You are going to set us all on fire!” I said to myself.  OK not to myself, out loud.  With the window open.  Actually really loud.

So putt-putt we kept going, and yeah, I was tailgating him.  And yeah, he did the slam-on-the-brakes thing and I was not deterred.  “MOVE,” I thought, this time actually inside my head.

And then he whipped out his iPhone.  [I continue to wonder what all of the people who have taken a picture of my license plate do with that image.  There must be dozens, hundreds of them.  What good does that picture do?]  And he stuck it out his driver’s window.  So I darted to the right side of the lane, hoping to reduce his ability to capture my license plate.  Then he moved the phone to the middle of his car, and I darted back to the other side of the lane.  Then he stuck it out his sunroof.  We played this game for a few moments and then it occurred to me that he wasn’t trying to take a picture of my license plate, HE WAS VIDEOTAPING ME driving behind him.

So after a few minutes of this foolishness, I determined that  he was never going to drive any faster, that he was clearly spending way too much time focused on what was going on behind him and I would wave the white flag.  I pulled aside and let the car behind me go ahead of me.  Enough already.

The car behind me pulled ahead and I got back right behind him.  Having been behind me as I moved back and forth (but always inside the lane!), this next car thought I was the asshole, and he pulled BACK over to let me BACK in front of him!  No!  I resisted, and then let two additional cars in front of me.  I really just wanted to get where I was going at this point.

Finally close to Laurel Canyon, Prius driver pulled into a swanky private drive and continued to videotape the procession that passed him, including me.

And so I return to my thesis:  it’s more important to pay attention to what is happening in front of you than behind you.  If everyone in L.A. would just look up from their lap and follow the car in front of them, I am pretty sure we would all get where we are going much faster.  While I was not the paragon of good driving during this episode, I was not the one breaking the law and photographing/videotaping while I was driving!!!!!!

I know you have your own stories to share – here’s your chance!  Comment below. 



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2 responses to “The One About Driving in L.A.

  1. Susan Hazel

    Well, some might debate if you were completely law-abiding during this excursion (you were a self-professed tailgater), but I thoroughly enjoyed the exchange. Sorry that my humor is at the expense of your experience, but hopefully that makes it somewhat better, right? Let’s hope we can find the video of you on YouTube somewhere (as I’m sure it is by now!).

  2. Martine Spann

    SAP has a huge focus on sustainability and as part of that, those of us in the US have the Prius as our preferred rental car. I would love to see my German colleagues try this horrible vehicle on the autobahn. The Prius has absolutely no pick up, especially if you have the misfortune to be on an on-ramp with the slightest upward slope. Worse, you cannot see behind you because some design idiot decided to divide the rear window in half to accommodate a goofy looking tail-like appendage out of the rear window. I have a convertible with a limited rear window view when the top is up – I almost took out an unattended toddler backing out of a grocery store parking lot. I couldn’t see him at all. Fortunately, I back out of spaces very slowly for that very reason. The Prius field of view is much worse. And how the he!! does a Prius get ranked as an intermediate size car? Try putting 4 business people, each with one overhead size suitcase and one laptop case, in a Prius. That dog don’t hunt!

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