Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monday Morning Madness

 You ever had one of those moments that you realized you've made a mistake about 2 seconds too late and there's no way out?

Welcome to my morning.

Everything started out pretty good actually. I woke up not too tired and feeling OK. Jeff seemed to have had a restless night so I snuck out of bed and out of the room quietly so he could sleep.

I got the kids together in the allotted 20 minutes we have to get out the door and even managed to get myself a nice big cup of warm coffee to take with me to help in the waking up procedure.

I got Alex to school on time and even got Katherine to her morning class within 2 minutes of start time. That left Jeffrey and me to sit in the car until the yard duty arrived to open the big gate. He and I hung out, listening to my IPOD and singing some of his favorite songs.

Finally the gate was opened and he was on his way. I headed down the hill to go home. While making my way along the main road to the freeway I noticed there was exceptionally heavy traffic going the other way. I glanced in my rear view mirror wondering if I missed a stalled car or an accident but I didn't see anything. (Warning number 1).

I approached the freeway and checked the overhead bridge for slow traffic which there was but it didn't seem much slower than usual.  (I later looked back and figured I was hallucinating when I thought saw the cars moving). I knew I could get on, jump over a few lanes, skirt around the 2 merging on ramps and by the time I got to the 101 it would have shaken loose. I did not however notice that there was absolutely no traffic going the other way on the freeway. (Warning number 2).

I crossed under the freeway, turned right onto the looping on ramp, drove about 50 feet and came to a dead stand still. The traffic was stopped half way up the ramp and realized there wasn't a single car moving even a little bit in any of the 4 lanes of freeway traffic.

I desperately looked behind me to see if I could do something terribly illegal like back down the on-ramp but suddenly there were 15 cars behind me and the line was growing fast.

I knew something was really wrong and I was stuck. I crept forward until I was almost to the bridge and I could see the road below. People were continuing to pull into the line waiting to get onto the freeway. Across the street was the other on ramp for people going the opposite way on the street and those people were now trying to merge into my lane about 50 yards ahead of me. Only none of us were going anywhere.

I simply could not believe people were voluntarily getting in line. If I had seen there was even the smallest line backed up onto the ramp there was no way I would have gotten on. I would have taken surface streets home. But these people were forming a line that was now backed up under the bridge and out of sight.

I reluctantly flipped off my music and flipped on newsradio (traffic on the 5's) to see if maybe there was any mention of this.

When the traffic report came on the first thing they talked about was a sigalert on the 101 approaching the Hollywood freeway with several lane closures. OK.. if my freeway was backed up for 20 miles then I might as well get out and walk from here.

"And now to that problem in Thousand Oaks..."

oh please oh please oh please let it be nothing huge....

"Seems there is a chemical spill on the northbound 23 freeway and both sides of the freeway have been shut down until the hazmat team can be called in to clean it up. Looks like there is a cloud of vapors rising off the pavement just after the Janns Road offramp and everyone is being diverted off the freeway as far back as the 118. If you are anywhere in the area I would advise staying as far away from the freeway as possible and taking side streets as an alternate. Its a real mess out there and it looks like no one is going anywhere fast."

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Ever have one of those feelings like someone just slid the jail door closed and you were on the wrong side? I was one mile from the next exit which just happened to be Janns Rd. I couldn't go back. I certainly couldn't go forward and Oh Yeah.. I had that huge cup of coffee almost an hour ago. In about 30 minutes I was going to be in so much trouble I wasn't going to be able to see straight.. or think straight.. or even drive straight. Not that much driving was likely to be going on.

I did the only thing I could think of which was to call Sally. I figured if a cop came by and tried to give me a ticket for being on the phone I would simply stuff it up his nose.

I spent the next half hour creeping forward (MAYBE went 50 yards), catching up with Sally, and moaning to Jeff about my predicament since he called to see what the hell was taking me so long.

They eventually closed the freeway on-ramps. I could see that because I hadn't moved off the bridge in the entire time I was talking on the phone.

I also noticed that the other side of the freeway had been opened (lucky them) and there was now almost nobody in the lanes to my left as the traffic behind us had been shunted over to get off at the street I had just gotten on from.

Suddenly there was a small parade of traffic driving the wrong way down my side of the freeway. I briefly thought of making a run for it and joining them but thought the better of it because there was a cop car every 100 yards. I was really glad I didn't because someone a few cars in front of me tried that and the police caught them and made them go back.

Shortly a policeman got out of his car and walked over to the car in front of me, talked to the driver who then made a u-turn and headed backwards to the ramp behind us. The cop headed over to me and I rolled down my window and asked where everyone was going.

Please oh please oh please let me go too.......

He said if I wanted I could follow the other car and head back to where I just got on.

You don't have to tell me twice.

I was to the off ramp behind me and off the freeway in less than  minute.


My joy was short lived as I realized everybody and their brother was getting off the freeway and trying to find alternate routes home or to work or to the 101. Twice I tried shortcuts only to find myself exactly back to where I started because the damn roads around here double back on themselves to prevent exactly what I was trying to do.. cut through and save time.

I eventually made it home an hour and half after I first turned onto the freeway and two and half hours after I left the house in the first place.

I was a blur as I burst into the house and headed straight to the bathroom. Relief has rarly been sweeter.

All I want to know is.... what idiot was carrying around a bucket of muriatic acid (used in pool cleaning) in such a way for it to fall off their truck and break open in the middle of the freeway??

This is not the Einstein I want cleaning my pool.

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