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Venice Canals, Venice Beach, California, boats
Photograph: Shutterstock

14 weird things about living in L.A. that you just get used to

They seem odd to out-of-towners, but to Angelenos these are just part of daily life.

Michael Juliano
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Michael Juliano
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We can’t stand all of the lazy stereotypes that are constantly lobbed at Angelenos: that we’re all lazy-yet-somehow-fit industry-obsessed health nuts just waiting to be validated by East Coast media hot takes.

But if we take a step back, even we have to admit that there are some peculiar things about life in Los Angeles that seem perfectly normal to us but bonkers to just about everyone else. Only when you spend time outside of L.A. do you notice—and come to appreciate—some of our more specific quirks.

They may seem inscrutable to out-of-towners, but to Angelenos, these 14 things below are just a normal part of our everyday lives.  

1. Making plans without checking the weather first

When meeting up with friends, checking the weather forecast so rarely comes into play because of course it’s going to be pleasant enough for a beach day on Saturday.

2. But also not going anywhere when it rains

And maybe even being borderline afraid of the rain thanks to drivers who treat preciptation like the Purge: All rules of the road are off, as are every other car’s headlights.

3. Driving to and from bars

Let’s just clarify upfront that we’re not encouraging anyone to drive while impaired. But the fact is, for plenty of Angelenos a night at the bar means driving there, having a few drinks and then driving home—and thinking nothing of how senseless that must seem to public transit-reliant out-of-towners.

4. Measuring distances in minutes and not miles

Traffic, of course, is the obvious explanation here: Who cares what the actual distance is from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica when that drive can take anwyhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the time of day. (For the record, it’s about 15 miles—and yes, we had to look that up.)

Monty's Good Burger vegan cheeseburger
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

5. Assuming that just about every menu will have gluten-free and vegan options 

Sometimes when we’re out of town, we can’t wait to come home just to be able to eat a fresh vegetable again. We suppose heirloom tomatoes, oat milk and quinoa exist outside of SoCal, but they sure are much easier to find here.

6. Putting “the” before freeways

Our love-hate affair with freeways predates most other cities, and when named highways (the Hollywood Freeway) flipped to numbered ones (the 101), the “the” stuck around—hence why Angelenos rattle off directions like they’re talking about exponents. Maybe that same cozy relationship with freeways also explains why we insist on qualifying all other roads as “surface streets” instead of simply “streets.”

7. Acting like earthquakes are no big deal

A brief flurry of social media posts aside, we’re shockingly nonchalant about anything under a 4.0. Occasionally though, an earthquake swarm sends us into a spiral about how the Big One could hit at any moment and our emergency kit is woefully underpacked—until we kind of just forget about it until the next quake comes along.

8. Nobody seems to drink the tap water

Whether they’re topping off a filtered pitcher, stocking up on bottles or lugging jugs into refill stations, Angelenos seem wary of the city’s tap water even though the government says it’s totally safe. Your apartment’s neglected pipes on the other hand… 

9. You can valet park just about anywhere

Restaurants, arenas, medical offices, shopping malls, theaters, airports, supermarkets, theme parks: Valet parking is seemingly everywhere. Just don’t forget to validate. 

10. There’s a fifth season and it’s fire season

Why’s the sky orangey-brown today? Oh, you know, it’s just fire season—a term we so casually toss around to describe a summer-to-fall period that seems to get longer and scarier each year.

coyote
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Ben Mater

11. There are coyotes everywhere

Oh, that scruffy-looking dog-sized wolf? It’s just a coyote looking for a snack in Silver Lake or holding choir practice in Griffith Park. Totally normal.

12. There are Teslas everywhere

If L.A. had an automotive mascot, maybe you’d assume it would be a luxury car (or, about a decade ago, a Prius). We, however, insist that it would have to be a Tesla, an electric vehicle that probably turns heads in most of the country but is pretty commonplace here. As of 2020, L.A. had more zero-emissions vehicles than any other county, and among all cars in the county about 1 in every 100 is a Tesla.

13. There’s legal weed everywhere

Sure, now all the other cool states are legalizing marijuana, too. But you were able to get a medical marijuana card on the Venice Boardwalk (for that thing that was absolutely ailing you) back in the ’90s, and now dispensaries look like Apple Stores, assuming you’re not just getting it delivered. Try that in Texas.

14. Just accepting that everyone is flaky

Making plans can be tough and actually keeping them is even tougher. But you somehow don’t hold it against your friend that they bailed on dinner last minute—because you were honestly considering it, too. 

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