Why Southern California Sucks
I've finally figured out what irks me about the people in Southern California and why after two days in Manhattan Beach I start to twitch. It's not the smog or the Hummers or the omni-tattoos around biceps and calves. It's not the materialism--we have that just as bad in Northern California--and it's not the classism and blandness of white-ism. It's not the fake boobs (hell, I've lined up dollar bills to get closer looks at those) or the traffic or the McMansions springing up.
It's the fact that this lady cut me off with her stroller and didn't say excuse me.
She didn't even hesitate; she just blasted on past me, almost excising my big (and my favorite) toe in the process. She didn't look up, she didn't give a furtive glance or look around sheepishly. Nor did any of the surrouding pedestrians have the slightest problem with what had happened. None of them had even noticed.
Trying to parallel park on Highland, I turned on my blinker as I slowed to a stop just past the open parking space. I prepared to back in only to be blocked from behind (from WAY behind) by a woman driving a SUV (which was cooler than mine except for the color) yapping on her cell phone next to her 15 year old daughter who was yapping away in the passenger seat on her own cell phone. She stopped right at my bumper. And then she realized that I was not going to move out of HER way, so she backed up--about one foot. She backed up another foot and continued to yap on the phone while backing up. I had choices here. I could have stood my ground and forced the lady to force the line of cars behind her to move. But I just sped off. Why? Because I'm from the land of Northern California where we are fair-minded and diverisfied and tolerant, where we recycle and read high-minded books. Okay, no, it's because I didn't want to flip out in front of my ten-year old boy and his best friend.
It's not like these are evil people. Or even Republicans. They just don't have empathy. They don't seem to be able to see that their actions are affecting other people. A person in So Cal will cut you off not because he's out to get you; he just doesn't have a clue that his actions may be affecting you in any way. After cutting you off, he may even look up from his Palm Pilot and wave at you and smile. In fact, if you're from, say, New York, and you travel to L.A. you may be overwhelmed by the number of smiling faces and "niceness" you'll find here. The women will smile at you, the metrasexual men will smile at you...especially if you are white, blond and at least somewhat female. That is, until they cut you off and run over your fucking toe.
If you're from New York, you know that the person who cuts you off knows damn well what he did. In New York, drivers will speed up just so they can cut you off (and then scream "Get off the road!"). It's an open act of agression which I find sort of endearing. The New Yorker has empathy; he just chooses to ignore it. Or maybe it has to do with revenge. In Boston, my friend would wait at a red light, four cars back, his hand poised above his horn. The instant the light turned green he would lay on his horn, pushing it as if his full weight would force a louder blaring from it. He never tired of this game because he knew he was pissing people off. Now that's empathy!
I think if I had told off the lady in the car New York style, she would have been genuinely shocked. I don't think it would even have occurred to her that I was there in the first place. And if I had stopped the lady with the stroller and said "How about an excuse me?" I think I would have gotten a mumble, a dismissal. Why should my toe matter to her? At least my friend from Boston would have the decency to back up and run over my other one.