L.A. Lessons

Today marks 3 months that I’ve been in one of the biggest cities in the world, and I feel like I am starting to get a sense of what’s going on here. There are a few things that will take a little longer to, if ever, get used to. For a girl that hadn’t seen the beach since her honeymoon 7 years ago, now knowing that the beach is only 15 minutes away is still a concept I am trying to wrap my head around. And my heart just breaks seeing so many homeless people, on what feels like every corner. It’s a sight I don’t think I’ll ever consider the norm.

There are plenty of things though that I am acclimating to and am coming to expect from the locals. Here are a few-

1.) Let’s get this one out of the way. Everything you’ve heard about driving in Los Angeles is true. The traffic is horrendous. If you want to drive on a highway between the hours of 3pm and 7pm, best of luck getting anywhere in a timely fashion. Where I am used to calculating that going 3 miles will take about 5 minutes, it is now more like 3 miles can turn into a 15-20 minute car trip.

You’re best bet for beating the traffic around here is to a.) be an L.A. native that knows the ins and outs of the city by heart, or b.) install a free phone app called Waze. Waze has been my co-pilot since my arrival. If not for Waze, I don’t know if I’d be confident to venture further than our street. It not only navigates but, thanks to other “Wazers” on the road, it updates you on the traffic, road closures, construction zones, and even where you can find the cheapest gas. I’ll stop now before it starts turning into an advertisement. My point- the traffic really does suck!

2.) The people here are actually some of the nicest I’ve ever met. You think Los Angeles and you start getting ideas of celebrities, upscale boutiques, and just a kind of snooty-better-than-you atmosphere. I was pretty anxious at the idea of fitting in. Truth is, I’ve only witnessed a handful of jackasses. Mostly everyone that I’ve come in contact with has been perfectly pleasant and helpful, until you put them behind the wheel of a vehicle….

3.) People in L.A. love their horns. The aforementioned niceness turns into every man for their self once they turn the ignition, and patience is NOT a virtue. Take a nanosecond to realize the light is green- BEEP! Stop for an elderly lady at the crosswalk- BEEP! BEEP! Slow down to make a left turn- BEEEEEEEEEEP! You really can’t win. The good part of it all though is, with so many other cars whizzing by all the time, you’re not always certain if someone is beeping the horn at you. So maybe ignorance truly is bliss in this instance.

4.) Keeping with the driving theme, parking lines are more of a suggestion rather than a boundary. For probably about 80% of the population, you could paint the lines bright orange, with runway lights, and they’d still take up 2 or 3 spaces.

5.) Nobody returns shopping carts. In any store parking lot, you find carts in every nook and cranny, except the sanctioned cart corrals. Though most carts just get left in an empty parking space, to the annoyance of newly arriving customers, some people go as far as pushing them all the way home. Where we live, it’s about a 5 minute walk to a couple various stores. It’s not uncommon to find a CVS or Trader Joe’s cart outside the apartment complex. Some of the bigger chain stores equip their carts with devices that lock the cart wheels if it passes a certain perimeter, and you end up finding abandoned, disabled carts along the sidewalks.

Despite it’s obvious flaws, I really am enjoying Los Angeles. It’s very different from where I come from, but in a good way. Well, mostly in a good way. There’s still a ton of stuff out there that we haven’t experienced yet and many more lessons to learn on our way to becoming Angelenos. One Los Angeles fact that I will never concede to though- 70 degrees is NOT cold!1

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