If you live in this great city of ours long enough you eventually come to realize one essential truth: We’re all in it together.
That means that every act, every word, every breath that comes out of your mouth is an opportunity to have an effect, good or bad. Whether we’re driving in our cars or standing in line at post office or thinking about the way the lips pucker on that stranger ordering ahead of us at Starbucks.
Of course, despite whatever word service might be paid, not many people want to make it their daily priority to perform civic duties on behalf of their fellow angelenos.
But laziness not withstanding, I’m pretty sure we’re all kind of vaguely good-intentioned in our hearts.
So with that in mind here’s a list of seven stupid easy things you can do everyday (starting right now) that will make this city a more hospitable place for everyone.
And if all you can do is one out of the seven, at least then you can, with an almost straight face, tell strangers at cocktail parties that you’re doing your part.
1. Don’t Tailgate
Traffic, and by direct association the driving habits of every Jack and Sally on the road is part of the fabric Los Angeles. It’s the first thing we check in the morning. It’s the first thing people ask about when considering moving here. But you know what I hate even more than just pure, obnoxious traffic? Tailgating.
Tailgating, you know when you’re riding right on someone’s ass (or vice versa) is the leading cause of rear end collisions as well as a major contributor to road rage and other irrational driving behavior. Oh, and it also makes traffic a hell of a lot worse.
So what exactly constitutes tailgating?
Drivers.com says there are generally two steadfast rules in being safe in terms of tailgating, though these are basically just minimum requirements.
1) The car length rule: For every 10 mph of speed the following distance should be one car length. At 20 mph, following distance would be two car lengths, and at 60 mph six car lengths.
2) The 2-second rule. This means being two seconds behind the car ahead, and it was applicable to any speed. The distance will, of course, vary depending on the speed you’re traveling. (see full explanation)
If you can abide by the above two rules of thumb, then you’re off to a great start to improving the state of our roadways.
Furthermore, as a side benefit, when you provide ample space between you and the traffic in front of your vehicle you can actually dissipate traffic waves. A single car can have an incredible effect. For some evidence, check out this video of a Seattle truck driver sharing his experience below:
2. Don’t Park Like a Douchebag
Parking is limited enough as it is, and until we master this whole public transit thing we’re pretty much screwed.
I mean, have you ever tried parking in WeHo on a Friday night? Or Silverlake? Or Downtown? Or Old Town Pasadena? There are many neighborhoods in Los Angeles where parking is at a premium. So please, don’t be that guy.
Things douchebag parkers do:
– Park in handicap spaces (when they’re not handicapped)
– Unnecessarily take up multiple spaces on the curbside
– Take up multiple parking lot stalls with one (normal sized) vehicle
I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you can at the very least refrain from doing those three things, we’re off to a good start.
3. Curb Your Dog
Dog shit is shitty, so this is just common sense and basic decency. Clean up after your pooch, and dispose of it properly, lest you end up like the mayor of San Marino…
4. Mind Your Water
Every drop of water you consume takes an incredible journey through hundreds of miles of terrain, through rivers, pipes and treatment facilities before it spits out your shower nozzle or faucet or garden hose.
Moreover, it takes a crap ton of energy to get that water from points A to B to C, not to mention the effect that rampant water drainage has on the environments from where our supply originates.
In this L.A. Times article they conjecture that if we were to somehow curb our daily water consumption by about 45% (actually not too far fetched they argue) we would save the electric output equivalent to a mid-size power plant. That’s like, hundreds of thousands of homes being powered every day. Take that green-house effect!
So why not start today doing little things like…
– Taking shorter showers
– Watering lawns at appropriate times
– Check all faucets for leak drips
– Only run the dishwasher when it’s full
And if you don’t like those, here’s a full list of 77 water savings tips to kick drought’s ass!
5. Read the News
Getting the general populace to be an engaged electorate base would be too big an ask. And telling people to vote? Forget about it.
But the first step towards engagement is awareness, right?
So let’s label this a wake-up call to get the ball rolling.
Maybe consider spending 30 minutes a week (a week!) gliding through the pulse app on your phone, or reading the Times or L.A. Weekly or perusing /r/losangeles on Reddit. Maybe just even following a couple key Facebook pages or Twitter profiles.
Arming yourself with a little bit of weekly knowledge is the first step towards creating a vibrant democracy. And as our second president points out, that’s pretty fucking important. And if you prefer T.V. wisdom to our founding fathers, see also bombastic Newsroom monologue below.
“An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic.” -Thomas Jefferson
6. Don’t Litter
Seriously. Don’t be that asshole who brings food to the beach but then just leaves it to blow away in the wind.
It seems totally common sense, yet I see litter decorating the sidewalk of too many parts of Los Angeles not to include it in this list.
Don’t. Make. Native. Americans. Cry.
The simplest, and (for some) probably the most difficult of the suggestions is this: Just smile, bro.
Now I totally get that being nice doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I’ve met enough people in my life to realize that now, and then of course there are those unfortunate souls who are born with what amounts to a permanent sneer plastered on their face (you know you’ve seen them). Still, smiling is a silent, wonderful act that imparts positivity, diffuses tension and costs exactly… nothing. Plus it looks great (see picture of Christina below)!
And if you can somehow take the smile suggestion one step further, maybe you might even have it in yourself to open your mouth and say something nice about a random person you interact with throughout your daily activities
I mean, have you ever had a complete stranger give you a wonderful and totally unexpected compliment? Great hair? Awesome glasses? Cool scarf? Lovely eyes?
It feels pretty awesome doesn’t it? So what better way to inject some good vibes into this wonderful city then pay it forward with the warm and fuzzies.
Plus, if you’re a dude who happens to heed the advice of this article, consider the possibilities.
Maybe you pay a compliment to a young lady, strike up a conversation, ask her out on a date, make an awkward but heartfelt move in your car, end up in a relationship, put a ring on it (it was your grandmother’s), have a couple kids (they’re beautiful), and move into your dream home with your awesome family. Wouldn’t you say it all worked out for the best?
And it all starts with the compliment. Or the smile. Or hopefully both.
Now, on that note, your welcome Los Angeles. Have a nice day.
Have other ways you think angelenos can be better to one another? Please share them in the comments below.