Though the words that most frequently escape my mouth when I refer to Los Angeles' 405 Freeway are "torture," "hellscape," and perhaps some variant of "sodomy," my morning commute on the evil expressway is actually relatively painless as far as L.A. journeys go; typically, I can accomplish my eight-mile drive in about 25 minutes. (I long ago abandoned any delusions about taking the freeway during the evening -- there are only so many 90-minute bumper-to-bumper morasses a man can tolerate before the desire to simply drive his car off an embankment and end it all becomes disturbingly palpable.)
Occasionally, a stalled car or accident doubles the duration of my drive; I assumed this to be the case yesterday morning, when it took me 25 minutes to even make it down the on-ramp onto the freeway proper. It took another 25 minutes to progress about a mile, at which point the presence of several wailing police cars and one of those giant trucks equipped with a blinking "----->" sign in the left-most lane indicated that I was approaching the scene of the accident. Plodding my way through the gridlock, I stole a quick glance to my left as I passed the cacophony, idly pondering the severity of the accident that had resulted in the doubling of my commute.
My glance did not reveal a stalled-out semi truck or a totaled SUV, nor even a beleaguered motorist hurriedly changing a flat tire. Instead, I saw that multiple police cars and a giant "----->" sign had shut down the fast lane of one of the most congested freeways in the country at one of its absolute busiest times of day...so that a solitary orange jumpsuit-clad worker wielding a weed-whacker could clear away the light sprinkling of weeds emanating from the crack between the freeway and the center divider.
I'll let that sink in for a moment.
Better yet, I'll close this browser window and go about the rest of my day, lest I begin jabbering nonsensically about exacting revenge upon the City of Los Angeles before realizing that I don't even know to which agency I would address an angry letter that would assuredly be ignored.
At least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that the city has finally devoted ample resources to combating the most pressing obstacle facing commuters each day.