The sky is falling — again. The end of the world is near — if not today, or this week, maybe this century.
Do you remember Y2K when the computers were all going to fail at midnight on Jan. 1, 2000 and there was supposed to be a giant calamity where society as we knew it would cease to exist?
This week’s “end of the world” notice is that a 10-mile section of Interstate 405 is being shut down for an entire 54 hours. It’s being dubbed “Carmageddon” and tales of the expected nightmare of traffic, the decimation of businesses large and small, and the ensuing horrors are being communicated to us at a frantic rate.
From the overhead signs on the freeways warning us of the closure of a piece of asphalt for a few hours, to the gnashing of teeth and wailing about how our society is falling apart and there shall be an end to life as we know it, there has been a sustained effort to alert the public that a road is closed.
I am reminded of the many warnings that preceded the date change in 2000. We were warned to stockpile cash because the ATMs were not going to be able to service us for days, or weeks. We were warned that our electricity would be cut off as the grid that provides the life-sustaining force was going to come crashing down in some cataclysmic fashion that would render our world back to the days of the founding fathers.
Just two months ago we were warned that the end of days had arrived because some preacher decided that May 21 was going to be Judgment Day. Personally, I packed a bag.
For as long as we’ve been roaming the Earth, there have been these “end of the world” doomsday predictors. They have a horrible track record.
We are warned that come midnight on Friday, the freeway will be closed until Monday morning. In the immortal words of Linda Richman of “Coffee Talk” fame, “No big woop.”
The stories that have been written showcasing people who are scared about the horrendous impact the closure will have on businesses, people’s work schedules, the damage that it will do to our economy and the drastic steps that workers are taking to combat the breakdown of our society, are all over blown. For a weekend we will not have the easiest route to go from Westwood to Van Nuys.
Big. Freakin’. Deal.
There are routes around the closure. The Pacific Coast Highway is still open and you can cross the mountain at Topanga. The downtown corridor is going to be open and you can stop off and have some dim sum or a French dip. The canyons are going to be open for those who want to tour through Beverly Hills, pick up a Nate ‘n Al’s pastrami and head to Universal City Walk.
For my part, I’m hoping that all of these warnings and scare tactics means that Santa Monica will look like it does during the holidays when everyone is out of town skiing in Aspen or has gone home to New York to shop at Macy’s. I want to see our little Beauty by the Bay become the peaceful, sleepy little town it was 40 years ago.
When I was in the Fourth of July parade this year, I noticed there was an old style police cruiser, and it made me think of the “Andy Griffith Show.” The town of Mayberry was a sleepy little town where everyone knew everyone, and kids could roam the streets because there were enough actual adults around to make sure they didn’t do too many stupid things. It was a fictional town, and idealized as a consequence, and in many ways we love to fictionalize and idealize today. Sometimes for the better, often for the worse, like with the coming traffic nightmares.
We have an opportunity this coming weekend to enjoy a peaceful time at home, and have an excellent excuse to just stay in town. Maybe host a barbecue, invite the neighbors over and we can all claim that we are doing out part to minimize the traffic snarl and horrors that are coming.
Those businesses that depend on tourists and weekend traffic are preparing for the worst as they have been warned that no one will be able to get around thanks to the traffic. Which actually makes no sense. If there’s traffic, it’s because people are moving and trying to get somewhere. I’m thinking that most people are so bathed in the warnings, that traffic might actually be a breeze with most people staying home.
Personally, I’m going to be breaking out the bicycle, stay within the city limits and laugh at the warnings that tell me the end of the world is coming over a 54-hour shutdown of a freeway.
I hope you’ll join me.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.