Light traffic in LA, and other upsides of a down economy

June 24, 2008, 6:37 PM UTC
Fortune



I’m in the LA office today, a lot earlier than usual. Know why? I mean, not why I’m in LA because that’s none of your business, but why I’m in early? Because there was no traffic.

Let me say that again. There was no traffic. This is LA, and there was no traffic.

Those unfamiliar with LA may fail to appreciate the magnitude of that statement. Let me give you a few others that may equate:

  • I went to the supermarket and there was no pensioner in front of me on line with 10,000 coupons;
  • I sat in Coach the other day, and there was no crying baby spitting up right next to me;
  • I took a rush-hour subway in New York yesterday and a group of thugs got up to give an old lady a seat;
  • I went to a Paris boutique last week and they were very friendly in spite of the fact that I didn’t buy anything;
  • I had lunch at a midtown restaurant last Tuesday, and they didn’t offer me $16-per-bottle water five times until I finally relented and bought some;
  • I went to Las Vegas recently, and nobody commented on how the 115-degree heat didn’t matter because “it’s dry heat”;
  • On my last visit to Japan, nobody offered me their business card.

I rented a car at LAX and took the 10 into town. It was clear sailing the whole way. Yesterday, I went to the office and it took me ten minutes. There was a minor hangup at one traffic light. And then, this morning, I made a trip that used to take me an hour… in eight minutes. It was creepy. It was like the early scenes in an apocalyptic movie. The fluid road stretched out before me, and my rented Avalon cut through it like a hot shark through the overly warm Pacific. And now I’m here, with time to kill.

No traffic in LA. More people car pooling? Summer, and people working from home?

Thousands of cars owned by people who can no longer fuel them up?

Anyway you look at it, it’s good news. Unless, you know, it’s not.