Friday, November 05, 2010

Moving to Los Angeles: Pandemonium in Parking Structure No. 3

I know some native Angelenos are going to be pissed off at me, but this needs to be said: If being around nice people is really important to you, then DO NOT move to Los Angeles. Plain and simple.

About five years ago, my roommate had an audition in Santa Monica and she asked me to go with her. She begged me, actually. We decided to make a field trip out of it: lunch, a little shopping, and a long walk on the beach to work off the cream puffs that mysteriously made it into our stomachs the night before. Alert the meter maids, here we come.

We had lunch at a mediocre restaurant on 3rd Street Promenade (how very LA of us) and then we headed to the beach via The Pier. I must admit it was fun. The sun was shining and while most people were stuck inside in front of their computer screens pretending to work, we were out at the beach dodging bikers and rollerbladers. During our walk we concluded that after six months in Los Angeles we had come to like it more than that friggin' parochial Navy town aka San Diego. After an hour at the beach we made our merry way back to Parking Structure No. 3 which was adjacent to a mall.

When my roommate tried to turn on the ignition, the wheel locked and her car wouldn't start. She told me the car had been acting up lately. She tried several tricks to no avail. I heard a loud horn, looked back and spotted a car waiting to take our place. They got tired of waiting and took off, but not without giving us the obligatory LA Finger. She tried and tried and tried. She told me she would have to roll back a few yards and then try it again. That trick usually worked. The cars kept on coming and we waited for a window of opportunity to roll back. Finally, the traffic stopped and I told her to go. As soon as she did, a car came around the corner and she was unable to roll far back enough to make the car work. So now we were stuck blocking traffic. People started to blow their horns and we started to sweat. A middle-aged, blond woman in a BMW was directly in back of us. She continued making noise and my roommate lost it.

My roommate turned into the Jerry Springer guest that she is and had worked so hard to suppress. She stuck her finger out the window and yelled "fuck you!" repeatedly. Meanwhile, the cars started to pile up, one after the other. I got out of the car and told the woman our car was dead. "Oh," she said. She sat in her car and watched me try to push the car back into the parking space. It was hard because we were in an upward slope. I was able to push the car far in enough to let the cars squeeze around us. One by one, the cars went around, most of them throwing birds our way.

I left to find help. I searched all over the parking structure and found no one that worked there. I went back and to my horror, my roommate had rolled back again and was blocking traffic. The line of cars wrapped around the parking structure all the way to the street. People were just sitting in their cars, pissed off, honking. To my surprise, yet another BMW was right behind our car. This time it was an older man. He sat in his car, grinding his teeth. I told him we couldn't move our car. He said "well, just tell her to move it out of the way so I can pass by!" I wrote the dialogue in my mind: SIR, ARE YOU RETARDED? THE CAR WON'T START." But I didn't use it. Finally, two young girly girls in Juicy Couture and Jimmy Choo pumps got out of a car. "What's the matter? How can we help you?" they asked as they ran up the ramp. They helped me push the car while the man in the BMW cursed us. We made room for the cars to go around. Again, the cars drove by and we heard someone yell "stupid bitches!"

We were going to need someone from the parking administration to manage the traffic. I left again and finally found the parking office. I explained our predicament in detail and in Spanish to the young attendant. He told me he couldn't help me and that I had to go to the security office. I had just spent 20 minutes walking around trying to find someone and I was not happy. I asked him if he could call them for me. He looked at me as if I were speaking English. He answered my question by giving me directions to the security office. I reached my limit. He was about to become the recipient of my wrath when my phone rang. It was my roommate.

When I got in the car she told me that a Mexican man from Mexico (not from LA) helped her turn her car on. I sat back, exhausted from all the stress and unreleased emotion. At first, all I could think about was the nastiness of LA people. If we had been in Mexico or Italy, the car would have been surrounded by people trying to help. If we had been in Cuba or Puerto Rico, there would have been a party and a drum circle. We were in a jam and we were abused for it. Just because we were making them late for their shopping.

I couldn't stop thinking about the incident. I couldn't shake the feeling of complete sadness and I didn't know why. Worse things have happened to me but there was something about this incident that was very telling and I couldn't figure it out. Finally, I realized why it got to me. I had to live among these people for a long time. And it’s not that being around “nice” people was ever an issue for me. I guess I took it for granted, since I’d always lived in places where people were nice but I never gave it any thought since I didn’t have a reference point. Until now. Now that I live in LA I notice how much nicer people are everywhere else, even New York and Paris. And you know what’s worse? I realized I was a nice person. Barf. Please don’t tell anyone. It really bothers me when I’m in my car and I give the right of way because I know they don’t deserve it. I just can’t help it. I don’t want to be like the rest of people here.



Eric said...

Great post. Really feel for you in that situation.

LA is tough, though West LA harbors a particular coldness at times.

I've found other parts of LA a lot friendlier. Have you been out to Silverlake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, or Highland Park?

I'd like to think the same thing wouldn't happen in those parts, but it is LA, so you never know...

dizzydent said...

I live in Silverlake because it's more diverse. What got me is that no one got out of their car even to just investigate what was going on. Let alone help.