I’m mellow. I’m quiet. I’m reserved.
Little gets under my skin and turns me mad. A caffeine overdose, sure. Tripping over Buzz Lightyear and falling on Jessie and Bullseye in the living room. Yeah, that can get me sometimes.
Twice in a week I got caught in traffic so bad I wanted to cry and leave my car in the middle of the road and walk. Or drive down the sidewalk and across the plaza or right through a building. It was hell, twice in a week.
I know about traffic. I grew up half a block from the 405, a north-south freeway in Los Angeles. It buzzed and hummed night and day. I watched my dad’s nerves boil as he fought the traffic day after day. He grew up in Buenos Aires and lived in New York, St. Louis and Mexico City – all pretty good walking cities – before moving to Los Angeles, the world’s capital for the car. And the traffic broke him, with a little help, no doubt, from us five children. His response? He went healthy and Zen. He scorned fast food despite our pleas for a burger. “It stinks,” he’d say. He filled the kitchen with fruits and vegetables, fish and lentils and his homegrown alfalfa sprouts and plain yogurt. He took up yoga. He walked. He ran. He race-walked. He went tai chi and did it whenever opportunity allowed. At the beach? He’d do his thing in front of thousands of people while us kids looked the other way and hoped nobody pointed at us, the children of that funny man. We kept our heads down and went swimming or took a walk down the beach. He’d do tai chi at our soccer matches, basketball, baseball and football. “That’s your dad, right?” our friends would ask. “What’s he doing?”
I never could answer. But years later he told me that the tai chi and the rest of his health trip helped to reduce his stress, to keep him driving sanely on the 405 and the 10 – another main freeway in Los Angeles – day after day.
I remembered this today as I drove through the worst traffic of my life. And a few days ago when I drove through the worst traffic of my life.
This is Buenos Aires and driving conditions are worsening. The reasons are many:
- Too many cars
- Too many protests and road blocks
- Mad drivers
- Mayhem in general
Corroboration? Have a drive around for yourself and you will believe me.
Take the subway and walk, even with the kids. It gets crowded on the subway, like sardines at rush hour. But at least you can wait for the next train or get out and walk and not sit stuck in a car for hours, inching along and fuming along with hundreds of others. Another benefit of the subway is that I can do tai chi while waiting for the train, just like my dad. Come on kids, you’ll eventually come round to the fabulous and wonderful benefits of moving your body in funny ways while looking like you are in a trance. Believe me, you will.