You guys may not have heard about this but gas prices are like, really high. Since I’m not fabulously wealthy I’ve had to make changes to my habits to compensate for the increased fuel costs. For starters, I’m carpooling, but I’ve also stopped drinking gasoline.
Those aren’t the only changes I’ve made. The high price of gas means I’ve also officially retired my ages old practice of sleep disorder driving. It’s something I haven’t done in a while, but until recently I’ve always considered it an option.
You’ve probably never heard of sleep disorder driving so I’ll explain. I used to have terrible sleep problems, which kept me awake for days at a time. Many nights I would find myself lying awake in bed wondering if I’d ever get to sleep. My worst fear at the time was that I would die but still not get any rest. I’d be found dead, but in a cruel twist of fate I’d still be wide awake with all of my annoying qualities intact…a zombie that rises from the grave to criticize your record collection and talk about movies you haven’t seen. There’s nothing worse than a smug zombie.
When I couldn’t bear the thought of an afterlife as the insecure undead, I’d get in my car and drive until I felt better. On most nights I’d make my way downtown to the Second Street Tunnel, which gets a notable mention in Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep”:
“Mars flicked the Luger out again and pointed it at my chest. “Open the door.”
The knob rattled and a voice called out. I didn’t move. The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel, but I didn’t move. Not being bullet proof is an idea I had had to get used to.”
The Second Street Tunnel is not only in “The Big Sleep”, it’s also featured in Blade Runner, so in my head it’s somewhere in between the past noir of Chandler and future noir of Phillip K. Dick. The contrasting images of old LA and the city yet to come play out as you approach and enter the tunnel. I’d roll the windows down as the gray exterior gave way to the light inside and stop worrying for as long as it took to get to the other end. By the time I made it through I usually felt good enough to head for home to try and get some sleep.
In the last few years I’ve had fewer and fewer sleepless nights and so I’ve had very few reasons to get behind the wheel in the middle of the night but I’ve always kept the option in my back pocket, just in case. I suppose that the price of gas is as good a reason to put this to rest as anything else I can think of, I’d feel guilty about wasting gas. Next time I’ll ride a bike.