The Wild Wild West

There was yet another shooting on Interstate 80 last night. The reason that I know about it is that I got stuck right in the middle of it.

Thanks be to God, I wasn’t there when the shooting occurred. But I was one of thousands of cars who got rerouted off of the freeway and caught in a horrendous traffic jam.

After the shooting, the freeway was closed from Hercules to Pinole. All traffic on the freeway was rerouted to one, single, traffic-light laden city street. So this one avenue was clogged with every car that came off the freeway or needed to get onto it.

It took me literally 45 minutes to go in one big circle — where we were taken off the freeway onto another freeway going in the wrong direction. Then we had to find out way to that one city street back to our original destination. When I returned, 45 minutes later, I saw the same police cars blocking the exit ramp.

Then it was another 40 minutes to drive two blocks. Exhausted, hungry and needing to use the facilities, I got off in a small shopping center. In one of the restaurants, I found several other refugees from the nightmare traffic jam, all staring at their Smart Phones for answers.

The restaurant owners were kind. Even though they were about to close, they let us refugees use the bathrooms. Seeing my exhaustion and stress, one of the workers even invited me to sit down and rest. My contact with them provided a sweet little respite from the anger and frustration seething from the drivers of the other cars.

I walked around the little shopping center some more, though almost all of the shops were closed, including a Starbucks. Then I went into a still-open Jack in the Box. There I got some food, and tried to figure out my next move. At the rate traffic was going, it would take me another four hours or so to go the many miles home.

I decided to wait it out, and hope and pray that the freeway would open soon. After about a half hour of listening to the local news, great news: the freeway opened.

I high tailed it out of there, but, of course, so did several thousands of other people. The freeway was clogged like the city street. But at least there weren’t any traffic lights further delaying our trip.

I got home safe and sound, again thanks be to God. But a 25 minute drive took over 2 hours. By the time I got into bed, I was so agitated by the constant surging of stress hormones that it took me several hours to fall asleep.

This is life in the Bay Area. Shootings on this particular stretch of Interstate 80 are commonplace. There have been literally dozens and dozens of shootings the last few years.

This is horrible and should not be tolerated. But maybe what is even more shocking is that no one talks about it. I mentioned it today to a man I know who lives in Hercules, near the shootings.

He didn’t know anything about it. When I filled him in on the details, he shrugged his shoulders, as in, “Oh, well.” Since freeway shootings and every other kind of violence are routine in the Bay Area, especially in the East Bay and San Francisco, the local denizens don’t even raise an eyebrow.

Widespread violence is unacceptable, and it should not be commonplace in a civilized society. But this area is not civilized. In numerous respects, it resembles the Third World more than it does the First.

Here we have the Wild, Wild West, with thugs and gangs running the streets. They not only shoot each other. Tragically, innocent bystanders get hurt, sometimes killed. A local teacher was shot in the head in front of her child for simply driving down a street in Richmond.

But there is some sort of strange disconnect here, a Night of the Living Dead, where residents walk around, unconcerned and indifferent. If anything like this freeway shooting happened in your neck-of-the-woods, the community would be outraged, worried, especially for the young.

But here? The young are sacrificed to the gods of political correctness. Why is this? For one, talking about the horrific crime around here requires naming who is actually doing the crime. And this is absolutely forbidden.

So, instead, the citizens are victimized over and over again. Our cars are stolen; we are robbed and mugged; and on and on it goes. Even children are robbed and beaten up, on the streets or in their schools.

And along with this, law-abiding people get trapped in nightmare traffic jams because criminals decide to shoot people on the freeway. They can literally get away with murder.

And yet no one seems to care.

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