a whole new world (partie numero deux)

Today is the second part of my “California is Different” series. Well, really it’s a two-part series, making it more of a set, but I could expound in the future. Today we will cover strictly traffic-related features of the state. This post was altered from its draft form when UC Davis students began returning to the city–you’ll see why later.

The Car Physical (meaning the physical car)
Cars out here are generally the same, except that they have to pass more stringent emissions testing to be permitted on the roads. Whatevs, my Focus passed with flying colors. The difference comes at a closer glance. Cars here have more stickers and labels on them than a new weight-loss drug whose statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. First you have the greenies. They have the yellow “Carpool Lane Access OK” stickers in up to four places on their bumpers. I guess if you have a super duper fuel-efficient car, you can drive in this lane whenever. Well, too bad everyone is a terrible driver in all lanes at all times; otherwise, it may be an incentive. Then there is the cancer warning sticker on the driver window that states a car contains known carcinogens. I’ve seen similar stickers before at discount stores, and I didn’t know it meant they were made with stupid chemical plastics; I thought it meant they were like dipped in lead paint or something, so I didn’t buy them. It’s a little ridiculous, and I think Californians just like stickers. Perhaps they want to have art on their cars as they do their bodies because literally everyone has a tattoo. I’m not really into that stuff. And while the premise of being chased by inked toddlers is interesting, it seems a dichotomy from the autistic Barney children I remember.

A Scholar of Lights
The term “scholar” is a new unit I’ve developed to measure the number of students that pass in front of my vehicle before I can proceed through an intersection. A scholar is roughly equal to three “classrooms,” or 30 students. If you need a larger unit, a “student body” is equal to 20 scholars. Carrying this logic, literally a scholar passed in front of me the other day when I was in downtown Davis. I knew students were coming back, but I didn’t expect them to flock like livestock. As the sun set, I finally made my way to the main road. You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned any traffic specifia–well hold your horses. In Ohio, I almost never saw someone riding a bike after dark. Here, it’s rather common. In fact, everyone has head and tail lights for their bikes. Going down the road is a sea of unique, orange-white-and-red-colored flashes and reflectors. It’s like being in the ocean or something. Classrooms of people swarm the streets on bikes at night…creating traffic in their own lanes. It’s new, and it’s interesting. It’s also annoying because they are everywhere.

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