I have seen the enemy and he is nuts.

Short Day’s Journey Into Night

I hate this time of year. Not because of the looming holiday gauntlet I'll be running for the next six weeks. It's not so much because I get endure another discontented winter watching my beloved 49ers circle the drain. It's a seasonal affective disorder though, triggered by shorter days, longer, colder nights and a protracted 158-mile daily commute that winds through the impacted colon of L.A.'s freeway system. It all started when Daylight Savings Time ended on the first of November.
Mornings are mostly okay. The sun came up at 6:32 a.m. It goes down at 4:45, giving us 10 hours, 11 minutes and 46 seconds to work with. As we begin the steady decent toward the shortest day of the year - 9 hours, 52 minutes and 51 seconds on December 21, a.k.a. Winter Solstice – the commute gets worse. Sure it's psychological. Everything is psychological to some extent. The stagnant four-lane river of cars is bad enough. Splitting lanes makes it endurable, except for the steady stream of two-wheeled sociopaths coming up from behind.

Last Thursday: perfect example. The inevitable shunt stops traffic maybe 12 miles into the ride. I’m easing around motionless traffic in the carpool lane when some sociopath on a GSX-R whistles up on my six close enough to trade paint, holding the revs at about 7000 to let me know I’m holding him up. I’d move around if there were enough empty real estate, but there isn’t. The GSX-R tach goes to 10,000 while my emotional revs approach redline. Breathe. Feel The Force, Luke. Let it go. And I do. Eventually he figures it out and goes around. Then some genius in board shorts on an 1100 Katana rips through stopped traffic at 50 mph, followed by an aspiring member of the Manson Family on a Yamaha V-Star, who knocked the passenger-side mirror off a Prius with his fist right in front of me.

Hey, I know it’s rough out there, but regardless of what you’re dealing with, busting yourself up can only make it worse. Even if you have a job, work is harder than it’s ever been. This economy has everybody with a paycheck shaking in his or her shoes and saying yes to things we would have laughed at three years ago. But do me a favor. Take five or ten minutes to decompress before strapping in or saddling up for the ride home. Cut the rest of humanity at little slack. Especially if you’re on the 405 North after 5:15 p.m.