I BET IT HAPPENS EVERY FRIDAY in New York City, Chicago, Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Cairo, and all other major metropolitan areas around the world, just as it does every Friday in my home town of Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, I’d stake my pension on it. (Hey, I knew that pension would be good for something!) In L.A., we call it “The Friday Get-Away.” Translated, that means, “It’s rush hour all day, and nine out of ten drivers are homicidal maniacs – bent on seeing how many people they can mow down on their way out of town.” And for some cockeyed reason, most Angelinos think that somehow we will be exempt from the Get-Away insanity, if we leave home before noon. Wrong! In fact, the Get-Away starts at oh-dark-thirty, in the wee hours of the day on Friday morning, because that’s when the criminally insane are at their best (or worse, depending upon your point of view). They’ve been up all night packing their SUVs, and have already downed two buckets of espresso, four Red Bulls, and two quarts of road rage before they careen out of their driveways pre-dawn, while half of the city still sleeps. It’s the other half that is the problem, for anyone who is on the freeway before dawn, and anywhere near these early Ragers, will feel the full brunt of their wrath. Going 80 in the fast lane? Loser! Pull over and let that honking, cursing, red-faced Rager roar past you – going 100, shaking his fist, and using hand signals your mother never taught you. (Well, my mother never taught them to me.) When I left home last Friday and headed out of town at 10:00 am, I was in complete denial. A gambler who has bet the family farm and lost everything has less denial than I did last Friday morning. “It’ll take me an hour to drive across the city and out of town” I told myself, “and then it’ll be easy sailing after that. After all, I’m leaving home before noon.” Hah! Four and a half hours later, after taking seven alternate routes to avoid multiple crashes on seven different freeways, I was almost on the other side of town, when I had to face facts. I needed to pee. I crawled along at 10 miles per hour for the next 20 minutes until finally, I reached the next off-ramp, hoping and praying that I could find a public restroom within a few blocks of the freeway. What I did find was even more congestion, with angry Angelinos jockeying for position to go anywhere and everywhere they could, knowing full well that it was already two and a half hours past noon, and they were now doomed to fight gridlock all the way out of town. Or all the way home. It didn’t matter. The fight was on! I circled one block after another, narrowly avoiding being side-swiped and rear-ended, but found nary a fast food place, gas station, nor grocery store where I could relieve myself. Finally, I gave up and joined the madding crowd queuing up, back at the freeway on-ramp. Thirty minutes and one off-ramp later, I located a gas station with a restroom, stood in line for 10 minutes – during which time the proprietor demanded that I purchase something before using the facilities – and finally answered nature’s call. (Whew!) Victory was mine! Today’s Get-Away traffic had moved quick enough for me to exit the freeway – twice! – and find a restroom where I could relieve myself, before exploding! I was ecstatic. In the past, I had not always been so fortunate. I distinctly recall one particular trip to LAX, in which the gridlock was so intense that I could not move one inch in any direction, for three (count ’em!) hours. Nature had called, and called, and called. And finally, I just had to answer. In desperation, I emptied the plastic box I kept on the passenger’s seat of its maps, pens, mascara, hair spray, and tissues, and then – you guessed it – performed amazing Cirque-de-Soleil like contortions, till finally the deed was done and my bladder was empty. My only question then, was: How could I dispose of the evidence? Sorry! I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it may incriminate me. But I guarantee you, it happens every Friday. (Ewww!)

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