I lit a cigarette on a parking meter and walked on down the road. It was a normal day.
Nothing like this has ever been attempted before: The closing of a ten-mile stretch of the "405" -- the busiest highway in the world -- for 53 consecutive hours! The ramifications are nearly unimaginable. Rerouting half a million cars into the surrounding streets will surely lead to a disaster of Biblical proportions. Paralyzing gridlock, looting, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
I have decided to keep a log of my activities during this historic time. Future generations may look back on this weekend and wonder how we Angelenos survived. It certainly won't be easy. And if the worst should happen, I want to leave behind an accurate record of events exactly as they unfold. Perhaps tomorrow's civic leaders can learn from my experiences and work to prevent another potential cataclysm of this nature.
DAY ONE - Prelude
Friday, July 15th
On my way to work. Laurel Canyon seems fairly clear so far -- except for the dumb-ass in the white Range Rover in front of me. Signal first, then slow down, then turn. Not all at once!
Getting on the 101 is pretty smooth. Have to cross three lanes of traffic fairly quickly to get over to the 134 at the Bruce T. Hinman Memorial Interchange. No problem, except for one jerk in a Lexus who sees my turn signal as an invitation to speed up and prevent me from merging. Nice try, bitch.
At work. The place seems pretty quiet. My boss hasn't shown up yet. Rumor is she's staying in Santa Monica. Could be a smart move. Everyone is doing their best to remain calm. But we all know that disaster is imminent.
It's quiet. Too quiet. My supervisor, who lives on the west side, has decided to make a run for it. There are only a few of us left now. No reports of gridlock or mayhem. Yet. Indeed, the very lack of information is terrifying. We wait.
I confer with a co-worker who advises me that, as I live near one of the key arteries connecting the valley and the west side -- the aforementioned Laurel Canyon Blvd. -- I might want to consider making my exit. I check the internet and learn that on-ramps to the 405 will begin shutting down at 7 p.m. Time for a command decision. It's now or never.
The 134 is relatively clear, a slight tie-up at the Bruce T. Hinman Memorial Interchange, but that may have as much to do with the glare of the afternoon sun as with anything else. It feels like the calm before the storm.
Crossing Mulholland -- now I'm starting to hit some traffic. It's slow going down the canyon. It's a good thing I left when I did. I start making plans for what to do when I get home. Maybe I should stop and buy provisions: bottled water, power bars, tequila -- bare essentials. You know how people panic when things get hairy.
I manage to snag one of the last parking spaces on my street. Nice and shady. I leave the car knowing I won't be using it for the next two days. And while this is actually a fairly normal state of affairs, somehow the prospect fills me with a wistful sense of melancholy. Perhaps due to the very real possibility that, should things take an ugly turn, I may never have the opportunity to use my car again. I walk up the block to my building, not daring to look back.
I check the internet for updates on the situation, but there is very little new information. Weird. Are they deliberately withholding the horror from the public? One can only assume. I take a quick inventory of the fridge and decide to put off my provision-gathering trip for now. I'm going to need to keep my wits about me in the coming hours. Time for a quick power-nap.
I awaken to the shrill jangle of the telephone. Some stranded friend calling for assistance no doubt. I steel myself for the inevitable let-down -- I can't go running off to rescue someone who failed to take adequate precautions. Not with that sweet parking spot I landed. Turns out it's just some jackass taking a survey. Stupid telemarketers. Don't they know there's a crisis at hand?
At the grocery store. The shelves still seem pretty well-stocked. For now. I stick to the salad bar. Best to stock up on fresh produce. In a few days there may be none left at all.
Finally getting some news reports. Things are eerily serene. Most of the on-ramps to the 405 have been blocked-off by now. No incidents of extreme road-rage are being reported. Cleary there is some kind of cover-up in the works. I flip from channel to channel, but the story remains the same. Peaceful. Calm. No problemo. Obviously it is a conspiracy.
Second wave of news programs, and still no real stories regarding major gridlock or widespread panic. I become bored and drift off to sleep.
DAY TWO - Lockdown
Saturday, July 16th
Slept in most of the morning. Need to conserve my strength for the coming ordeal. Woke to the sound of helicopters overhead. Probably patrolling for looters. Check TV for latest news, but all I find are infomercials. Thinking about getting a Power Juicer.
I venture out onto the streets. Santa Monica Blvd. seems oddly deserted. I must have caught a lull. I walk up to Whole Foods for some basics: chicken dogs, soy milk, pasta. I think I will also pick up some coconut oil, because it's supposed to be good for everything. You never know
Whole Foods is not very busy, although I do get hung-up at the express checkout by one of those annoying couples who divide their stuff in half and stake out two different lines, then one of them jumps over whichever line moves fastest. I hate that.
Heading home. As I near my street, I consider going down the block to check and see how my car is doing. But I decide that it would be better not to tempt myself. I need to stay focused.
Purely out of habit, I check my mailbox and surprisingly, I find that I have mail. I had assumed that delivery would be suspended. Could be the last mail I receive for a while. Or maybe ever.
Must have dozed off after lunch. Important to stay rested. And hydrated. Woke up to check the news reports, but they keep dishing out the same old propaganda about everything being just fine. I'm not buying their malarky anymore. I decide to ignore the news from now on. Trust my instincts. Really need to hunker down and ride this thing out. Maybe I'll watch a movie.
DAY THREE - Aftermath
Sunday, July 17th
Last night I cooked up some pasta and watched a few movies on demand. L.A. Story, Speed, and Falling Down. Ate two bags of microwave popcorn. Tried putting some coconut oil on the popcorn. Not good. Went to bed with a stomach ache and dreamed about hordes of angry pedestrians clamoring for a seat on the last bus out of Santa Monica.
Not sure if this is a hoax or what, but Mayor Villaraigosa is on TV claiming that the crisis is over and the 405 will be reopening within the hour. So the question is: What were they really doing out there? This whole "freeway closure" story must have served as a diversion for some other massive undertaking. The mayor is answering a bunch of stupid questions about timetables and budgets, but no one is asking the most obvious question: What are you trying to cover up? This is maddening!
The 405 Freeway has officially reopened, 17 hours ahead of schedule. Or is it? Maybe this was the plan all along. Make everyone think there's going to be a huge "construction project" while meanwhile, something else entirely is going on. But what? I have a few theories:
- Installation of Commuter Tracking Devices (CTDs) and/or mind-control technology;
- Covert transportation of Alien Artifacts from the Santa Monica Airport to the Getty Center;
- Illuminati Death Race.
Who knows what really happened. We may never find out. This whole ordeal has been highly stressful. I think I'll go for a drive.