This has been a crazy week, to say the least. I published my book, The Brothers (WOOHOO!) and am waiting for conversion (will talk more about this in a later post). I spent way too much time in both cars and planes. And last but not least, I learned more about the differences between people than I ever cared to know.
There is a limit to how much time I can be trapped in an aluminum cage having reached its maximum occupancy. There is a limit to how much bumper to bumper traffic I am capable of handling in a given day, or even, an afternoon. It is true - I might be able to be comfortable with an hour in such a situation, but once I've passed that time limit, all bets are off. Forget civility, or even a level head, it's just over. I may shoot someone, break a window, or induce a berserker frenzy. In short, I do NOT encourage anyone to sit in a car with me during rush hour through LA - it's not pretty.
The thing about traveling is, you learn about people. I for one, clearly don't handle being in tight spaces trapped with a given amount of people for long stretches of time. I also can't handle slow anything. But beyond these things, and most importantly, I am angered by discourtesy and unsafe actions.
You can see these kinds of things all the time on the road. People cut others off - my favorite is when a Civic cuts off a tractor trailer (You have to wonder what the driver of the Honda was thinking...). People disobey traffic lights, weave in and out of traffic at dangerous speeds, and just plain don't pay attention to the road. In planes, its not always so obvious or blatantly unsafe.
This last set of flights was from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, and then Phoenix to Los Angeles. Pittsburgh has historically been a blue collar city with everything that implies. There is a sense of community about the place which is refreshing in a country where individualism has become the norm. People hold open doors, say please and thank you, smile to one another, and are generally welcoming. This is not the same with people from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, as Christian has pointed out to me, is a city where the main industry is television and movies. Everything is show. This leads to a kind of self-absorbed vanity and falseness that can be nauseating in the best of times. On the plane ride, there was a full flight, yet some people actually were trying to save empty seats because it was more convenient for them. This happened to several different passengers. Quite a few people moved items from the overhead bins for their convenience regardless of how that may have impacted people. One guy actually opened the bin at the end of the flight and the hard metal handle of his case fell out and hit Christian on the head. Christian picked it up and offered it to him. The guy took it without apologizing, checking to see if Christian was okay, or even thanking him for picking it up and giving it to him.
Today when we drove along Sunset Blvd out of Hollywood after Christian's interview, we saw some of the excessive buildings in Beverly Hills. It served to cement the idea into my head that Los Angeles is not the kind of place I can live for any length of time, if at all. I would go crazy there, and not just because of the excessive cement, and lack of trees, or even the heinous traffic patterns. The use of wealth, the manifestation of selfish tendencies, and the pomp of manner in every day actions of people I encountered - even on the plane ride there - is the kind of thing that I would never want to have surround me.
Thank GOD for little traveling metal boxes!