Dedicated to: the husky, slightly more than middle-aged man in the Hawaiian shirt and the hemp flip flops.
This morning, while waiting for my delicious iced nonfat dirty chai at the Coffee Bean on Sunset and Fairfax, a “gentleman” waiting in the same general area as I walked right into in the midst of very important call (as all of his calls are I’m certain). After running into me — me, you was standing in one place unmoving and minding my own business –he looked at me as though I was an obstructing baby stroller or other inanimate object of inconvenience then, without breaking strike for more than a second, redirected himself and walked outside pacing. I haven’t even mentioned yet that he was in his mid-late fifties, unfit and wearing a short sleeve button down shirt with some kind of botanical pattern (a la a hawaiian shirt) on a Monday morning at 830am… yes I’m certain you are rushing off to the office after this in your tropical shirt and your hemp flip flops. I, too, returned to my previous activity of standing and waiting. I noticed, of course, that it had happened but the occurrence didn’t really strike me as odd or upsetting. It was my unaffected reaction that prompted my annoyance.
If I am not surprised in the slightest when something like this happens then I’m certain I am not alone. I believe there is an expectation in L.A. by those that live here that most people in this warm and “friendly” city care only about themselves and are more concerned with how they are perceived by others (“must appear important, powerful, attractive, wealthy, blah blah blah”) than with enjoying their day to day life. By extension, when someone flips you off because you made a turn when you had the right of way or when someone glares at you like you owe them your first born because you have politely nudged them to slide over the painfully inconvenient half an inch because they are blocking the only open walkway in a store or restaurant, you probably have a little giggle or understated roll of the eyes or both (if you are anything like me) and then move on with your day. Why? Because this shit happens everyday and you expect it to happen. Oftentimes, it occurs multiple times in a single day.
There is a reason why the saying exists, “It takes more energy to be negative than to be positive.” So why is it that many of the people in this city insist on pretending to be positive when they are really just mad and aggravated? Why do these people care so damn much about how they are perceived? These are rhetorical questions of course (though I would like to know about anyone else’s position on this).
The majority of the examples I could come up with as I tap away in this moment include self-important a-holes clogging the streets in and surrounding the sunset strip where the majority of “the business” is located (Of course I am referring to show business, the entertainment business, “the biz”). However, this attitude is not exclusive to that geographic area or the stereotypical demographic with which it is congested. I cannot even say how many other countless times I have been cut off, run into, obstructed, interrupted, bulldozed, scowled at (you get the idea…) by someone and then experienced a follow up attitude from that person suggesting that I should have been quicker to get out of their way or just generally not exist to make their daily dealings less trying. I would take this personally but it’s not. I have many friends who have the same experience and it is happening all day, everyday and in every area of the city.
I know this exists other places but, based in experience from living in 3 major US cities, Los Angeles breeds this attitude more than any other (on a digressing note, I do fear that the attitude may be spreading due to social media and reality TV…just saying). In a city where you “only get one shot” and “only the strong survive”, you would think you might find a bit more character. Instead of character, we have characters. Even those who are not actors are playing a role every day. Why is it that being yourself is such a scary notion these days?
I will continue to use Coffee Bean as my prototype. I have not discussed my impression of this specific location at length with many but I have always personally considered the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Sunset and Fairfax to be one of the most “sceney” (factoid: sceney is not even in urbandictionary.com … this is a major oversight).
For those who are not familiar with the term, “sceney” is another way of saying “douschebag-invested” or “filled from floor to ceiling with wannabes”
As someone who generally likes to avoid the more “sceney” places in the city, I have not been a frequent customer at this particular Coffee Bean. This morning, however, it was already in to 90s at 815am. I am not pursuing a hot coffee in 90 degree weather and the iced coffee at 7-11 (though cheap) is f**king gross. I do not like Starbucks across-the-board and if I am going to spend more than $2 on my coffee I want it to be delicious. I recently moved into a new neighborhood making said Coffee Bean by local one. Therefore, for reasons of proximity and slight morning-coffee-OCD, I have been going to (only when warranted by weather which requires iced caffeine) arguably the most pretentious and tool-infused coffee shop in the city. I can’t and don’t judge everyone that goes there. That being said, the only way that I could be washed over by more examples in less time of the LA “characters with no character” attitude to which I have been referring would be if I were to stand still at a mid-point on Runyon Canyon where I could absorb the many snippets of “complex” discussions that would “hike” past in carefully selected workout attire OR if I were to seek re-employment as a front desk “greeter” at Equinox West Hollywood (a job which I, in fact, held for over a year) where the absolute worst of the worst are concentrated into one building from sun-up to sun-down.
Please do not misunderstand me. Though my rants may sometimes suggest otherwise, I actually love my life in Los Angeles and I love far more qualities of this city and its surrounding areas than I dislike. In addition, once you are able to weed out the BS, there are many people living in this city who can have a sense of humor about all the pretentiousness and stereotype that it breeds. These people become your friends. For me, it has been in finding these people that I have found home here. I am glad that a visit to the Coffee Bean and Tool Tree cannot sway my day anymore. Short-sleeve Hawaiian shirt guy can choose his anger but I am glad that I naturally and instinctively move on without even absorbing his ignorance. If anything, I thank him because he inspired me today. He inspired me to write and to recognize that I can choose my own attitude everyday. I can choose to not wear a Hawaiian shirt and to be aware of those around me and treat people with respect. I don’t claim to be perfect — in fact I openly claim to be deeply flawed — but I try to be real everyday. In LA, real and genuine people have a high value and having character makes you much more unique than being one.
TBC on being mad…
When I sat down to start writing this entry, the idea was inspired by self-important (or rather self-aware) mid-fifties Hawaiian shirt man and I was going to get into how everyone in this city is a little mad. When I say mad I mean everyone in this city is either a.) harboring or living in anger or b.) a little crazy OR BOTH. I still think that’s true. I actually have a lot to say on this topic because I had two very potent events occur this week which made me question my own level of crazy.
I will consider that my TO BE CONTINUED…