I was reminded recently that I’m hyper-sensitive to people criticizing Los Angeles. I met a neighbor who lives in my building last week, and our smalltalk led to the standard “Where are you from?” When I said LA, he joked, “Oh, I’m sorry.” He and my roommate had a good chuckle while I grinned and thought to myself, “Thanks, asshole. I’m sorry that you feel forced to continue to live in such an awful city.” What came out was, “I love LA.” He backpedaled a bit and said he liked it here, at which point I decided his opinion was worthless, since what he had said could basically be summed up as the following:
“I pity you for being forced as a child to live in a city where, as an adult, I have chosen to reside. How sad for you. No, I don’t want to move away. Why do you ask?”
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard this totally meaningless opinion: I hate it here, but I choose to stay. This is the thought pattern of a crazy person. Luckily, I’ve found a solution of all those live-in haters: go away. This remarkable breakthrough is the solution to the following common complaints:
–Traffic is awful– Because apparently no other major city in the world has traffic, people who come to Los Angeles are just shocked that a city with a population of almost ten million might have a few too many cars on the road.
Solution: Leave. The people on the road aren’t a bunch of yahoos with nothing to do. They’re people like you who came from somewhere else and decided to stay and complain rather than learn how to take a bus, stay off the road at rush hour, find an alternate route, or leave.
–It’s unsafe– Because apparently no other major city has similar crime rates, reading the LA Times makes people fear for their lives daily. And unnecessarily.
Solution: Leave. LA’s murder stats are almost five times lower than Baltimore, Maryland. Chances are you’ll live through the day, and as major cities go, there are far worse places to get stabbed. If you don’t feel safe in a city, move somewhere you’ll feel safe. Fresno is nice this time of year.
–I don’t know my neighbors– Because apparently every other major city is full of people who have become best friends living side-by-side, people who come to LA are just appalled that their neighbors don’t bring over cake and lasagna to welcome them to the neighborhood. I have never encountered a neighbor who was opposed to stopping in the hall or on the sidewalk for a quick chat. My parents introduced themselves to our new neighbors growing up. Getting to know your neighbors takes a little bit of courage and time, neither of which the people complaining have in spades.
Solution: Leave. Or introduce yourself to your neighbors, you anti-social shut-in. Most of the people who log this complaint have never even knocked on their neighbor’s door to say hello.
The point is this: All these LA-specific complaints are not LA-specific, they’re big-city specific. Here are some legitimate problems with LA:
Public transportation- I know, I just said people should learn to take the bus (I did between ages 12-20 all the time). And yes, loads of people take the bus and *sigh* metro all over LA, but our public transportation system just sucks out loud. It’s slow, unpredictable, crowded, and it just gets more and more expensive without any real improvements.
Bike lanes- Where do I start? There are not enough significant bike lanes in LA to get around on a bike without being afraid for your life, and if there were, it would take a long time for the drivers here to get used to sharing the road. Biking the streets of LA is a life-flashing-before-your-eyes experience.
Hollywood- If every waiter/waitress that was trying to be an actor/actress just picked up and left LA, the city’s population would be cut by 10% overnight. Now take all the people trying to become models or stunt doubles, and their agents, and there goes another 10%. Now remove all the tourists who want to see the Hollywood sign (2.5%), and the illegal immigrants who don’t pay taxes (2.5%), and there’s another 5% right there. I’ve cut our population by a quarter. Yes, our economy would slow way down, and there would be no one to serve that thing you like at that restaurant you just discovered, but it would make the city a manageable size again, and make the remaining residents’ experience of the city exponentially better.
I’m not saying only people born in LA should live here. That’s just ridiculous. What I would like to see is more people who want to be here, people who enjoy living here instead of those who stay only because that’s what their industry demands. Those of us who actually do love LA would love it even more if it weren’t overpopulated with unhappy people who trap themselves in a city they hate for no (or few) good reason(s)!
If you live in LA but you hate LA, the solution is simple. Leave, or find something to love about it. There is so much to love. But seriously, gtfo.