This past weekend was Southern California’s nationally-recognized “Carmaggedon” weekend, in which a large heavily-traveled portion of the 405 freeway was shut down for construction and demolition of an overpass bridge during a controversial lane widening project.  Warned of gridlock traffic swallowing the roads and creating mass chaos, fire and brimstone, Angelinos instead planned family days of Netflix marathons, coupled with lots and lots of extra sleep.

This too was our plan, and though a few offers of hang-outs surfaced, we eagerly turned them all down, looking forward to a relaxing, perhaps even productive weekend spent indoors, waving at the stranded drivers spilling out onto our near-freeway-interchange 405-alternate-route street.

After months of warnings by newspaper, Internet, radio, television and digital signage, something incredible happened:  the citizens listened (and there was much rejoicing).  Up early as usual, I turned on the news to find “Special Coverage” of the 405 shutdown.  A news reporter was providing live commentary from a typically busy intersection not far from home.  But no cars were passing.  There was nothing to report. And you could tell that both the anchor and her in-station counterpart were perplexed. 

The cameraman zoomed in on a couple of thumb-twiddling traffic cops, who rued the day they went through basic training.  The camera panned the northbound lanes.  It panned the southbound lanes.  Then it gave up and focused back on the reporter, who began interviewing gas station patrons at random. 

“So, what do you think about your commute?” she’d ask eagerly.

“It’s great,” they’d answer.

And this was news.

My favorite segment was of the news anchor whose assignment was to report from the middle of the shut-down freeway.  He wasn’t even anywhere near the bridge demolition.  He stood in the #1 lane.  “Look, I’m standing in the number one lane,” he said.  Then he walked to his left.  “Now I’m standing in the number two lane.”  And on he went until he’d reached the carpool lane.  It was absolutely riveting.  Five-star entertainment.  Excellent use of the station’s time and money.

I mean, I get it.  Their continuous disclaimer was, “If something was going wrong and we didn’t report it, the people would be upset.  Isn’t this great news?”  And yes, they should have been READY to report.  But cut in for two hours Saturday morning when nothing of consequence was occurring ANYWHERE?  That’s what I found ridiculous.

However, thank you to the forces that frightened our neighbors into stockpiling water and provisions and staying home all weekend because after we prepared for the same, Greg and I had a lovely dinner out  with Carmaggedon deals on Saturday and enjoyed a traffic-free commute to Harry Potter, complete with free Carmaggedon weekend parking.

Suckers!

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