With COVID-19 quarantine regulations ever so slightly easing up, and my desire to travel ever increasing, I spent the last week and a half in Beverly Hills at Tempo‘s team house. Of course, just because stay-at-home orders are lifting doesn’t mean the threat isn’t still there, so I drove there instead of taking a flight.
Usually, driving from Las Vegas to Beverly Hills can take anywhere from five to seven hours, depending on the severity of the traffic. Obviously, the trek through the desert is usually pretty quick, but it’s the final stretch of road from San Bernardino to the Pacific coastline that really gets you. I distinctly recall a drive back home to Las Vegas in December 2019 where that stretch of freeway had so much congestion that I was sitting in traffic for three hours and literally had to get a hotel in Victorville because I was already so tired and felt like I couldn’t safely finish the drive home.
This trip? Four hours and forty-five minutes, including three breaks. Actual driving time was just shy of four hours. It was the fastest I had ever made it from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
My favorite part of the drive was when I went to a McDonald’s in Barstow and proceeded to get kicked out because I didn’t have a mask on. Why is it my favorite part? Because the person who kicked me out had his mask on around his neck instead of on his face.
I usually like keeping myself isolated and staying alone, but this trip actually made me realize that interacting with people can be nice if the people are pleasant and also just as driven for success as you are. The team house obviously hasn’t been getting any visitors lately, so the only people around were long-time employees around whom I’m already comfortable, so my time in Beverly Hills was surprisingly productive.
What made things even better was that the Studio City area was actually driveable. When I was setting up the team house back in December 2019, there was so much traffic that I literally couldn’t even find a spot to park in at the grocery store, so I had to go to three grocery stores before I found one with sufficient parking to actually go in and get food. This past week, I’d say the traffic was at about 50% of what it usually is.
Now, I’d say the “usual” traffic in Studio City is around 160% of maximum capacity, in that it’s about to explode around the edges because there are so many cars, and the roads are just completely inconvenient and unnavigable because of traffic congestion. Obviously, 50% of 160% is still 80%, so the roads were still pretty busy, but it actually just felt like a bustling city rather than a place that needed a purge. I was actually able to go out and do errands without having to drive in circles for ten minutes before each stop in an attempt to find parking.
One funny thing though was how fast food restaurant drive-thru lanes were packed and flooding out into the street. I’m not too familiar with the Studio City area, so for food each day, my strategy was to drive around until I found a restaurant with a drive-thru that actually had room for me to fit. This made it so almost every day’s meal ended up either being McDonald’s or Taco Bell.
One of the days, though, our CEO added my food to his Postmates delivery order from SUGARFISH. I went with the “Trust Me,” which came with 8 pieces of nigiri, a small cut roll, some slices of tuna sashimi, and edamame. The price? With tax and fees included, ~US$42.00. For that price in Las Vegas, you can get all-you-can-eat sushi with a specialty beverage and gratuity covered. That’s absolutely insane.
Due to the generally confidential nature of my job duties, I can’t share too much else of what I was up to in Beverly Hills, but one thing that I can share is snapshots from all the productions that happened while I was around. We did some filming with one of our Rainbow Six Siege players, went out to The Point at the Bluffs in Pacific Palisades to capture some b-roll footage, and recorded some YouTube videos with our broadcast personality Jake.
The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously a terrible thing, but if we’re searching for silver linings, I think one of them is the fact that people are realizing that they can do a lot of things from home, and they don’t necessarily have to go outside. I’m hearing that a lot of tech companies are realizing how efficient work-from-home actually is, and are extending the offer to employees to continue working from home, even after the pandemic has subsided.
People staying home is what’s making Los Angeles much more pleasant for me now, because I feel like I can go out and take care of business without having to be paranoid about not being able to find a place to park my pickup truck, or worrying about not being able to make it back home from running errands for 2-3 hours.
If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think this is going to last. But while it does, I don’t think Los Angeles is that bad. Dare I say, “not that bad” enough that I might return for another visit in a few weeks.