When Shanti first moved down here he complained to me repeatedly about how fast the people drove.
I told him to stop being such a baby, and reminded him that north of Sand Hill Rd., people on the 280 rarely let their spedometers drift below 80 mph. “The people in L.A. couldn't be driving faster than that,” I argued, “They've got all the traffic!” He sighed, resigned to my disbelief, and we moved on to other topics.
But now I'm here, and I get it.
Holy Mother these people drive fast! And they are not messin' around. They don't slow down even 1 mph when you are trying to merge onto the freeway. Not one. If you do not choose a large enough gap and accelerate rapidly enough to slip into it, that Nicey McNice waitress that just blew your mind with her awesome customer service will drive her giant black Hummer right through your teensy-weensy Prius—without a moment's hesitation.
And the weirdest part of this behavior is the universality of it. It's not one or two loonies zooming past everyone and zipping in and out of lanes. It's a much more coordinated, almost militant affair that seems to involve the entire freeway-driving population. Like they all know about some rule that I am unaware of.
Well, I was unaware of it. I'm pretty sure I've figured it out though: Step on it or get creamed.
I haven't decided how I feel about this yet. One the one hand it does seem a little unfriendly of my new neighbors to willfully attempt to mow me down. But in a way I find the lack of ambiguity kind of comforting. There is no “Should I go? Is that guy slowing down for me to pull in? Yeah, I think he might be. OK, here I go. Oh wait—maybe I don't have enough room. Oops! It looks like he had to slam on his brakes. My bad. Sorry! (Waving out the window.) Thanks! That was nice of you.” Nope. You know that the burden is on you to pick a gap, hit the gas hard and make a decisive move into the lane. Anything less will result in disaster. Draconian, yes, but it makes sense. Who knows...maybe it really is the law and I just didn't know it.