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How dense traffic creates a more enjoyable city for people like me

This morning as I was enjoying my coffee, sitting in my backyard, I was listening to the call of the peacocks at Sahuaro Ranch, and mourning doves, and I could also hear the steady flow of dense traffic, which is so thick and consistent that it sounds like a river. And that river, fortunately for me, is a place I've rarely been in, either in Phoenix or in Los Angeles.

I've been lucky, I haven't commuted much. When I lived in Los Angeles, the distance from my apartment to where I worked was about two miles. When I lived in Santa Barbara, my job was so close that I could walk to it, although I rarely did. My longest commute has been from here in Glendale to downtown Phoenix, about twelve miles, and that was for only a few years. Like I say, I've been lucky.

Nowadays my "commute" is to my computer, and has been for years. Before that, it was just a few blocks to Glendale Community College, where I taught until 2012. Usually I drove there, but sometimes I walked, and even biked there. And looking back on all of this, I realize that the dense traffic around me has created a great excuse for me to live in a much smaller world.

The Woman in My Life in Los Angeles accused me of "living in a triangle" - work, the gym, and my apartment. Of course I often visited her, which made my tiny world a square, but her place really wasn't all that far away, either. People who know that I lived in LA asked me how I dealt with the traffic. I didn't. On the rare occasions that I needed to be on the freeway, I would take along a book. When traffic came to a halt (which I've never seen it do like that in Phoenix), I would read a bit, and when it started to move, I'd move. When I tell people in Phoenix that, they rarely believe me. Yes, freeways have been "parking lots" in LA for a long time. I would literally put the car in park and read. I got to read several books that way!

To me, dense traffic is similar to bad weather. I may not be going anywhere today (maybe the gym, which is just a few blocks away), and it makes me happy to think that "I don't have to go out in that stuff". And I sympathize with people who do, and somehow knowing that just seems to make me more happy with my smaller world.

And just to be clear on all of this, if you're one of those people who have to go out in that stuff, I appreciate what you do. I order things online all of the time, and I know that the drivers who have to do that are doing something that I've never had to do, and I appreciate it. They're the people who keep my two favorite cities, Phoenix and Los Angeles, running, and without them people like me would be in big trouble. So I thank them when I can, and I thank you.

I've just made another cup of coffee, and I'm going back to listen to the steady flow of the river.

Image at the top of this post: traffic in Phoenix in 1973

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