Thursday, May 28, 2009

Something Flows Freely in LA, and I Don't Just Mean Opportunity


So, culture shock is a real thing. Share with me some of the often crazy differences between this world and the one I left in Georgia.

-Motorcycles can apparently legally ride between lanes. Like when traffic is moving slowly, they can zip between cars. I thought at first I was witnessing some rogue riders doing this, but it happens a lot, so I assume it's legal. This is strange, and increases the potential of swiping one of them with my car.

-Pedestrians are everywhere and I am having to try to be diligent to watch out for them, and the bicycles all over the place.

-The grocery stores sell liquor- not just wine and beer, but liquor.

-The apartments do not generally come supplied with refridgerators. Thankfully my roommate had one.

-People "curse", or as we call it back home, "cuss", in the course of a normal conversation just like they might be discussing a vegetable garden. I noticed the word s%!# being thrown about by a few people shortly after I got here. I did not see this as a big deal, though- I just thought maybe these people had a saltier vocabulary than most people. Then, however, my boss used it when we were talking about pigeons, and a massage material supplier whose store I was in used another expletive while on the phone with someone. It was a small store, but she did not seem the least bit concerned about my hearing her. This was a surprise. Certainly in Georgia, I know a lot of people who use strong language on a regular basis, but in the South, most people will get to know you before breaking it out. In a business setting, it would be considered, in most places, highly unprofessional to speak like that. But I'm not in Kansas- or Georgia- anymore.

-The parking is amazingly complicated here. I would say the majority of parking is done on the street in the LA and Santa Monica areas. But there are problems. Some of it is free, and some is metered, but even the metered parking is usually only for a max of two hours. Street cleaning is a common interference, in addition to busy times of day when parking is forbidden. So, you may come upon a sign that says: "NO PARKING EXCEPT 2-HOUR PARKING MON-FRI BETWEEN 8AM AND 6PM AND NO PARKING MONDAY BETWEEN 10AM AND 12PM." I need a mathemetician to decipher these instructions- they are word problems. "If you can park here between 8 and 6, but cannot between 2 and 4 on Thurs, and 9 and 12 on Mon, Wed, and Fri, what is the likelihood that you will escape without a ticket?" I'm thinking, not good. Although, amazingly, I have not gotten one yet. Let's see how long that lasts!


  1. I had that same parking situation during my brief stint in L.A. I had to park on the street outside my apartment but then two or three times a week there would be a "no parking" period for a couple of hours for street cleaning. How likely was I to remember that! Yes, I contributed greatly during that time to L.A.'s economy. Maybe that's why they're in financial trouble now. I'm not there to pay for parking tickets. But now Kristi is there to save the day! :)

  2. I totally understand culture shock, Kristi. I lived in Ukraine for a year. Sometimes I would go to one of the little shops for bread and it would be closed, in the middle of the day. I asked and found out that it was closed for lunch from 12 to 2. Okay, so shops close from 12 to 2. Then another time I tried to go to a shop at 2:30 and it was closed. What was the deal with that? I was told, Oh, that shop is closed for lunch from 1 to 3.

    That's when a poor, culture shocked person tends to scream, What?! Why can't you people get together on these things? Or the time I discovered that everything is closed on holidays--and there are LOTS of holidays, holidays I never heard of and had no idea about. The Ukrainians have completely different holidays from ours. Huh. Go figure.

    Anyway, I sympathize with how you're feeling right now, Kristi. Like Dorothy landing in Oz. I've been there. At first everything seems so cool and wonderful. The next thing you know, you feel nothing but negativity about this crazy new place. It seems like the people are all nuts! But things will even out for you ... eventually.

  3. Thanks, Melanie. You would think since it is actually the same country that it would not be that different, but if you saw the blog post about my first entering California and my apple being confiscated- many of my friends back home were shocked and concerned that a state in our union is treating its borders as if it were a country unto itself. But it comes down to understanding, I suppose. There are valid reasons that CA is so protective of their agriculture. Some reasons for things are good- some reasons are not. The motorcycle thing for example- I imagine it is because they have such a pollution/smog problem here, so they want to reward people who drive motorcycles instead of cars and thus cut down on environmental pollutants. But, it does, I strongly believe, make things more dangerous for the riders, and for the other drivers on the road, who do not want to hit anyone. You would not believe how close some of the riders come to your car as they zoom along beside you between your lane and the next. So, they may be helping the state, but not the individual. And I think, the individual should take precedence over the state. The motorcyclists, however, are probably glad for it, because of its convenience- where is the right answer? I don't know. It is interesting, though. I just hope I never knock anyone off their bike because I hug the line a little too closely.

  4. Wow, Kristi, it sounds like you're meeting change head on! We lived in LA when we were first married. (I went to Biola University and we got married during December of my freshman year.) I hated driving there, other than just down the road to the nearby store. I'd grown up as the daughter of a forest ranger and lived in little burgs that didn't have a stop light or even a stop sign. So LA was a big change for me too. Even bigger was when we lived in Nigeria. Kind of like Melanie's experience in the Ukraine. Very odd when you're the only white family in the town! And going to open air market which had open sewer running through it ... well, it kind of took away my appetite! Anyway, I know you'll adjust fine, eventually. Just never forget your roots!