Here’s a snapshot of life in Los Angeles during coronavirus times, things I’m seeing a lot of right now:
- Ridiculous numbers of people jogging (there will be many shin splints on the other side of this).
- Bored dads looking at their phones while supposedly playing with their kids.
- Neighbors shouting conversations at each other from six feet away.
- People wearing plastic lunch-lady gloves.
- Expressions of unbridled glee when toilet paper is in stock.
- The lightest traffic I’ve ever seen in L.A.
Here, light traffic is usually a cause for celebration, a sign that the commuter gods are smiling upon you. Sadly, the current reason for it makes celebration feel wrong. And of course, the irony is that you can drive anywhere in record time right now, but there’s nowhere to go because everything’s closed and everyone’s in self-quarantine.
Yesterday my husband and I went out for our dreaded weekly grocery shopping trip. On our way home, a guy in a BMW pulled up next to us at a red light. He rolled down his window and asked, “Do you know what time it is?”
First of all… what? I can’t remember the last time someone asked for the time. Did this guy really have no smartphone, watch, or car clock?
“It’s one-twenty,” I said.
The guy nodded and took a drag off his cigarette. “Can you believe this?” he asked, gesturing to the empty roads around us. “I haven’t seen traffic this light since, like, ever.”
Then the light turned green and he zoomed off. I realized that asking for the time was probably just this guy’s excuse to have a human interaction, and to share the inappropriate yet undeniable thrill over this rare phenomenon: a traffic-less Los Angeles. In times like this, you’ve got to look for the silver lining, right?