If you look closely at this city, you’ll see it’s not made for humans. It’s made for cars. For machines. And each human rides that machine isolating themselves from others. Every day and every night.
People doesn’t walk in the street, even though there are cute neighbourhoods like the one in Detroit street between the The Grove area and Santa Monica boulevard, with palmtrees, grass, flowers. But nobody walks there. Everything is empty.
Another sad thing is that people doesn’t reply “you’re welcome!” when you say “thank you”. And I say “thank you” a lot. In spanish it’s «gracias!» and the meaning of the word is close to bless somebody, to wish well to somebody. So I thank, a lot. The only people that replied with a “you’re welcome sir” were bus drivers. The other people replies your well wishes with an annoying “uh huh”. What’s that sound?
A few people that I was, lucky, I guess, to talk to, agreed that angelenos were very closed. Someone complained about them holding the door and not getting a “thank you”, a smile or even a look in their direction.
My own story takes place at a LEGO store. There was a little girl trying to build a house, and she had a door but the guy from the store told her there weren’t door frames. The poor girl was getting frustrated and the mother couldn’t do anything but propose solutions that the girl knew weren’t good. You could see the crying coming anytime. So I grabbed a LEGO 2×2 turntable with its top and used the obscure technique of the orthogonal fit to place a 4×6 brown plate on the disc. A nice door for the cabin-like house that the girl was building. I gave it to the mother whispering “here, give her this door”. Without saying anything, she gave the little girl the door and she quickly realized it wasn’t the mother who built that, she looked at me and said “it’s an amazing door, thank you!”. I smiled and bowed. The mother never said a word. Not a single “thank you”, not a smile, nothing, zero, nada.
Sad thing is that when the girl grows up, she’ll learn to not thank.
See, I don’t expect to be friends with everyone I meet. It’s just that in other cities you can start a random conversation with a stranger and end up being invited to a party, like it happened in Kitsilano, Vancouver, when I said “bon apetit” to a well-groomed guy eating at a bus stop, a curious sight. I didn’t went out of self-preservation, but we talked a lot and sat together in the bus on the way to downtown. He was from England and even had a sister that had visited Argentina, he was looking forward to go in 2017.
Or in Munich, which might not be the friendliest city around, but when you go to some places to eat, people start talking you randomly. Like in Hofbrauhaus where I sat and started talking to people (and people talking back) each one of the five times I went. Or talking to somebody sitting right next to me in a cafe in Amsterdam watching the rain in front of a flower market.
You don’t get to do those things in Los Angeles. And it’s sad. Because there’s so much beauty in just talk to some random someone that can teach you or show you something. Like the time in Chile where a guy talked to us in a parking lot advising us to go to a place called Totoralillo. He didn’t have to. But going there was amazing. And he did it pretty surely for that, so others could experience the enjoyment.
I’m happy to leave Los Angeles. I’m happy to leave loneliness behind.