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20 things in L.A. that happen to you when you’re 20 minutes away from your destination

It takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in L.A.—supposedly. You’ve had these happen along the way—definitely.

Lisa Kwon
Written by
Lisa Kwon

The cliche that it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in L.A. has transcended its origin in Clueless. It couldn’t be farther from the truth, of course, yet almost three decades later we still live, die and drive by it. In honor of the mantra we accept as a challenge, here are 20 things that happen when you are 20 minutes away from your destination.

1. Halfway into your commute, you’ve resolved to become a biker.

2. Five minutes and two traffic accidents later, you’ve changed your mind.

3. You can get to your doctor who is five minutes away, but it takes you 15 minutes to find any parking.

4. You’ve muttered under your breath over the new luxury apartment complex that appears to have gone up overnight, despite your passing by the lot for five consecutive months.

5. At 5am, it’ll take you 20 minutes to get from Downtown to Santa Monica for a morning bike ride. You think about this at 5pm, when it takes you 20 minutes to go a few blocks in Santa Monica.

Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Rihards Sergis

6. You have definitely cried. Multiple times. And they have been some of the best cries of your life.

7. You understand that when your friend says she’s five minutes away, you need to add an extra 15 to that.

8. But because of an unexpected backup on your end, you have had to coordinate with your friend on who will get to the dinner reservation first and thus be responsible for stalling the host.

9. You’ve thought about what your vanity license plate would be after you saw that a car one lane over has taken the 1UWNTED.

10. You’ve realized that it has been over a year since your last vacation. You’ve realized this after seeing that the “smoking deaths” billboard has reset its ticker.

11. You’ve looked up how much it would cost to “adopt a highway” under your name.

12. You have wondered how late you can be to your first date to still be considered on time. Or without leaving a bad impression.

13. You’ve seen an ex/co-worker/a friend removed by two degrees jamming out in the car next to you through their untinted windows. You’ve slowed down to avoid eye contact.

Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Andrew Sterling

14. Against all public warnings, you’ve caught up on your unread texts, DMs and emails. Well, you were completely stopped on the 101…

15. But wait, what if an earthquake happens right now as you are stopped on the top level of the interchange? You’ve shaken it off.

16. You’ve wondered whether call boxes even work anymore.

17. Of all the curses you’ve cast when a car cuts you off, you’ve realized “transplant” is your wickedest one—and also your most used one.

18. You’ve wondered if you could start your own podcast.

19. A few blocks out from your destination, you’ve discovered that if you left even 15 minutes later, it would have taken you less time to get to where you are now.

20. You’ve opened up a maps app to see how long your commute would have taken via other means. You contemplate the Metro. You become a bus rider. You never thought your arc as a traffic hater would end with a pro-public transportation twist.

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