Posts Tagged traffic

The impossible dream

I’m going to write a statement that will make total sense to a third of you while the remaining folks say, “What the fuck does that mean?”  (There was no need for that filthy language – shame on you.)  Here goes: I wish I had a ghost like in Mario Kart.

Fine, I’ll explain.  Back in college, my friends and I played Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64 system roughly…all the time.  We each had our preferred characters to play as (mine was the princess named Peach, naturally), an array of verbal assaults, and a ton of nonsense to spout during the races.  (If the sentence, “Shtoop Shtoop hit a surprise box on the Mooms before he could fie-ay the red on his butt” means something to you, then you probably lived with me during my senior year.)  In any case, the game had a few modes, one of which was called Time Trials.

The Time Trials mode is pretty straightforward.  You race by yourself and try to get the best time on record.  Here’s where the cool part comes in: the second time you race, there’s a transparent version of your character doing a reply of your first race.  You don’t have to wonder if you’re on pace to beat your other time, because you can see that other version of you either ahead of or behind you.  From that point on, every time you race, your fastest time is riding along with you in “ghost” form.

So why do I want one of these in real life?  There are a couple of reasons, naturally.  The first has to do with going to the bathroom.  I literally mean “traveling to the bathroom,” rather than anything more graphic.  At work, I go to the bathroom a handful of times each day.  Being who I am, it was only a matter of time before I started counting the number of steps I took to get there.  My standard pace is about 57 steps, but depending on the urgency, I can get there in far fewer than that.  In fact, I ran once with the longest, most loping strides I could manage (at the request of my boss) and made it in 29.  I would love – LOVE – to have a transparent version of myself replaying an old trip to the bathroom accompanying me as I walked there.  I currently don’t time my trips there and back, so the ghost would add a whole new level to my self-entertainment.   The only catch is that the ghost would have to be invisible to everyone but me, lest they freak the fuck out.

The other reason I’d like to have a ghost involves driving.  This isn’t exactly the same thing, so it’s a modified version of the one in Mario Kart.  When I leave work, I typically go one of two ways (though there is a lesser-used third option).  It’s always a last-second decision for me.  If the on-ramp looks busier than normal and the street is moving, I may stay the course and meet up with the freeway a couple of miles down the road.  If both are backed up, I have to guess which might be the lesser of two evils.  (Speaking of which, if you’re thinking, “Why not check Sigalert or traffic on Google Maps to make your decision?” you might not be from L.A.  Every option is shitty, just one might be a little less shitty.)  What I would like the ability to do is simple: at the moment of truth in which I either turn onto the freeway or stay on the city street, I’d like to have a ghost version of my car take the other route.  Maybe I’d see it later on the freeway and realize that there wouldn’t have been any difference, but most likely, I’d wait until I pulled into my driveway to see if the ghost had arrived yet or not.  If I took the all-freeway route for a week and was consistently getting home after my ghost, then I would change the way I go home (unless it looked especially bad).  It would give me important data plus a missing extra level of fun.  It’s kinda like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors,” except not nearly as crappy.

So there you go – I’m pining for something that is impossible according to everything we know about time, space, and matter.  One thing’s for certain though: I just spent way too much time watching recordings of other people playing Mario Kart on YouTube.  One friend still has the old Nintendo 64, and I think it might be time Peach to come out of retirement. Shtoop shtoop, everyone, shtoop shtoop.

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Idle observations

L.A. is full of douchebags, and that’s never more evident than on my drives home from work. One one side of me, I’ll see an older guy in his Porsche with a cigar in his mouth listening loudly to Spanish guitar music, and on the other I’ll see a guy in his 20s in a modified sports coupe with mufflers that intentionally make it as loud as a jet engine.  I usually try to ignore them, since that’s probably the last thing they’d want anyone to do. 

My drive home yesterday started off pretty normal. First I saw a new lime green Corvette that was as ridiculous as it sounds.  A few minutes later, while sitting in traffic in the fast lane of the 101, a guy in a convertible pulled up to my right.  “Is he wearing…a captain’s hat?” I thought.  On closer inspection (which was easy since I was going about 0 mph), I saw that he was indeed rocking a captain’s hat.  “Wow,” I thought or maybe even said aloud, “That’s a douchey move.”  A second later, I looked to my left at the stopped traffic going the other way.  Next to me was a guy in his 30s who caught my eye because he had two perfect lines of eye black under his eyes.  It only took me a second to realize that he was probably wearing a costume for the last work day before Halloween.  “Oh, is that what Captain McDoucheypants is doing too?” I wondered.  I looked back to his vessel to see if there was a matching jacket or not, and the results were inconclusive.  I’m gonna guess that he was also in costume instead of personifying the “damn I’m good” feeling that a lot of people seem to have in this town, though I could very easily be wrong.  That probably tells non-L.A. dwellers all they need to know about this town: I couldn’t tell if someone was a typical arrogant prick or in costume.  Hey, at least we have the Lakers.

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