I was surprised by two things this weekend: snow and the response of other freeway drivers to the snow. If you know anything about Southern California, you know that it rarely snows. Heck, it rarely rains. So it is always a surprise when the white stuff appears, as it did on Saturday.
Mr. Distortion and I took a trip out to an area at the base of some seriously big mountains (around 12,000 ft.) that separate the ocean from the high desert. We tend to forget that we have such large mountains nearby since the smog and haze often obscure the lovely view of said mountains. I know ... sad. So we weren't thinking snow. We knew about possible rain, but the temps weren't supposed to get down to freezing. Almost freezing, but not quite. Apparently the "not quite" was enough to turn the light rain into lovely white sugar snow. As I stared out the car window on the way home, I was startled to see an empty lot covered in white. This took a moment to register. Snow! Then I noticed it on the roofs of buildings. I began bouncing in my seat and practically yelling at my husband: "Snow! Look at the snow"! A moment later I noticed that the snow was covering the freeway. I went from sheer excitement to an immediate sense of dread. Oh no. It's snowing and we're on the freeway. We're on the freeway with a bunch of other Southern Californians. In the snow. Driving in the snow.
Why this sudden fear? I've experienced So. Cals. driving in the rain and it's scary. Few drivers slow down. I can only assume they prefer to hydroplane their way down the road. They don't drive more carefully, but rather continue to drive as though they are merely playing a video game. They forget the laws of physics (did they ever learn them?) and drive 90 mph as they dart from lane to lane within inches of other cars. After all, in the video game you get a new "car" if you "wreck" and of course no one dies. So. Cal. drivers finally pick up on the idea of adjusting their driving habits to the weather and road conditions after about 3 days of wrecks and freeway closures due to fatal accidents. About the time the drivers adjust to WEATHER, the sun pops out and everything is back to normal. The lessons learned do not stick. It can rain again 2 weeks later and So. Cals. have to start all over with the hydroplaning and car wrecks and freeway closures. So you can see why I shuddered in sudden fear when I saw snow on the freeway.
My husband slowed our speed to accomodate the snow and possible ice and I waited for the cars to begin zooming past us at top speed. And I waited. No one was tailgating. No one was hysterically switching lanes in their quest to gain an advantage. No one was driving down the shoulder of the road spewing gravel and muck in their wake. All was calm and all was white on the interstate. I can only guess that the other drivers were as stunned and as pleasantly surprised as we were to see the snow. It was a true gift of the season to see some snow and, even more, to see my fellow Southern Californians driving carefully as they enjoyed the wonderful scene.