Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Tale Of A Left-Hand Turn

Humankind knows little vexation like making a left-hand turn in Los Angeles. You sit there and sit there while the world passes by, waiting for a sliver of opportunity to gun the motor and complete the turn.

Several minutes had gone by and I wondered what the woman in the Crown Vic ahead of me was waiting for. My own car idled behind hers as she waited and waited. Several long gaps in the traffic came and went like a flickering candle, yet the Vic stood there.

My impatience was beginning to flirt with despair when the sound of a siren distracted me. As it drew closer, I could hear there was more than one. Several, in fact. Louder and louder, closer and closer.

Into the intersection, a motorcade arrived. Six highway patrol motorcycles escorted a limousine to the corner, then fanned out and closed off the intersection. Officers kicked their bikes onto stands and raised their arms to halt traffic. What was going on here?

The door to the limo opened, and out came the mayor. Crowds were quickly forming on the sidewalks, and flash bulbs were going off. As the mayor emerged, he smiled his best Kennedy smile and waved. The crowd roared with adoration.

To my astonishment, the mayor made his way to the Crown Vic in front of me, his smile unrelenting. The driver's side window pulled down with an automated hum, and the woman – bespectacled and behatted – stared up at him. The mayor held his hands in the air to quiet the throng.

"Mrs. Ethel Stoat of 34 Roxbury Drive?"


"Ladies and gentlemen!!" cried the mayor. "I present to you – Mrs. Ethel Stoat of 34 Roxbury Drive!"

The crowd applauded warmly. The mayor continued: "Mrs. Stoat, I am here to welcome you to the intersection! Please, I prithee, feel free to make your left-hand turn and be on your way!"

Somehow, without my noticing, a marching band from the local high school had assembled, and they began playing something rousing by John Philip Souza. The crowd began to applaud for extra encouragement.

And slowly, surely, Mrs. Stoat's car rolled forward and, with six officers from the highway patrol holding up the oncoming traffic, the mayor waving her on, the marching band pounding away, the car tentatively completed the turn. As the the Vic accelerated out of the turn, a burst of fireworks exploded in the air.

The crowd was in a frenzy. Confetti flew everywhere as the mayor flashed a 'victory' sign and climbed back into the limo.

The crowd began to disperse, with some lingering to buy hot dogs from the food carts that had quietly arrived during the hubbub. The marching band broke ranks. The limo and the motorbikes pulled away, without ceremony.

And the traffic healed itself right up.

Now I sit here waiting to make a left-hand turn.


j said...

hilarious. now i have another stolen memory, another private joke everytime left or right turns get time warped to the point of entropy.

Anonymous said...

What an eventful morning commute! I sometimes marvel at the way your mind works.

bradley said...

Queueing practice, is something to cherish. I do enjoy leaving much space in moving traffic, as I practice patience, and the reflection of my id disolves into the random theatre of life beyond the windshield.

While in line upon my feet it is yoga; the deliberate awareness of posture, stance and breath that are the trinity of my wits' salvation.

Anonymous said...

You faux-intellectuals sure are a funny bunch.

Algernon said...

Well, anonymous, we are happy to entertain you.