Posted by: stillironic | March 13, 2015

I’m sorry, East Coast

Rainbow Crosswalk

Rainbow Crosswalk

I’m sorry, East Coast. I thought our love would last forever. Always thought of the West Coast as flakey and self-admiring. Who needed mellow. I liked inquisitiveness. The brashness of the East. Changing seasons. Europe in seven hours. Walking instead of driving.

Yet, in West Hollywood, people were walking everywhere. And LA’s dreaded car culture? Doesn’t everyone on the East Coast outside of New York City drive practically everywhere. And guess what, the city streets of LA are way more pedestrian friendly than any I’ve traveled in the East.

Shall I go on? LA drivers stop when you cross the street at a crosswalk and don’t drive through till you’ve reached the other curb. As if a ten-foot-wide invisible barrier is shielding you. We have crosswalks here in Baltimore with signs planted right on the street—“Stop for peds, Maryland State Law.” But we drivers don’t stop more than half the time. Sometimes drivers speed through so fast as you cross you feel the whoosh as they go by.

And the weather? One day last month with the wind chill factor, it was zero degrees in B’more. In West Hollywood the high was 80 with low humidity. And that was February! This kind of weather on the East Coast would be called a perfect day. In LA perfect days happen all the time. And the food? Emphasis on healthy eating is good by me. Lunch at a fast foodish-type place was fish tacos with roasted Brussels sprouts and root vegetables.

Californians are willing to pay more for gas to reduce pollution. In LA plastic bags have been outlawed in grocery stores.

Hollywood sign

Of course, the Achilles’ heel of LA is freeway traffic. When you ask for directions and how long the drive will take, Angelenos say either 20 minutes or five hours, depending. That’s pathetic. But, I’ll tell you one thing, it’ll be five of the quietest hours you’ve ever spent on a highway. There’s virtually no honking of horns in LA. Curious, I googled “LA traffic culture.” Drivers are supposed to only use their horns to avoid an accident. If you honk like we do on the East Coast, you just let people know you’re a tourist. Ouch.

So back in Baltimore I’ve decided to drive like an LA driver. And I’m amazed at how less stressful it is. I don’t try to jockey into the most advantageous position. I don’t hurry. I defer to other drivers and to pedestrians. And I don’t honk. I find I’m more alert. And I realize I’d been using my car as a weapon. Yikes! Don’t know how long this LA driving will last, but who needs an elevated blood pressure? I’m opting for mellow.



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