How to Be an Angelino: Part 1

Every city and region (part of a state or country) has its own culture, its own set of customs, beliefs, and unwritten rules. I will soon complete my 20th year here in Los Angeles, and in honor of (to celebrate or mark the event), I thought I would share with you some of the local customs and unwritten rules that make one an Angelino (resident of Los Angeles).  Lucy has already covered the first and most important of these unwritten rules: Never pay too much attention to celebrities.  If you see one, stay calm and pretend not to notice.  I’ll add a few more in this and in upcoming (future) posts, adapting (changing) a few ideas that a local reporter shared recently in the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s today’s rule: Know your shortcuts.  Los Angeles is infamous (well-known or famous, but in a bad sense) for its traffic (too many cars on the roads).  If you take only the main drags (primary or busiest streets), it could take you hours to reach your destination (where you are going).  When I first moved here, a friend recommended I buy a book describing the best shortcuts (the fastest routes or ways to get somewhere).  (Yes, there was a whole book of them!)  So I bought it, and was I glad I did (I was very happy that I did).  The book (I still have it somewhere) describes a few dozen ways to get from one part of the city to the other, using side streets (roads that are not main drags) to avoid traffic.  Even after 20 years, many of these shortcuts I learned when I first arrived here still save me time when driving.

Angelinos even talk about their best shortcuts to friends and family members.  My brother-in-law, who’s lived in Southern California since he was a child, has lots of these shortcuts.  We tell other Angelinos we know about them, but are careful not to tell too many people.  If we did, the shortcuts would themselves become popular and no longer be shortcuts!

Are shortcuts important where you live? What are some of the unwritten rules of your city?


Photo credit: San Diego Freeway, Wikipedia CC


This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to How to Be an Angelino: Part 1

  1. emiliano says:

    Living in a big city like Madrid is necessary to have a lot of not writing rules to be a good citizen when we are traveling by the tube or by
    buses or just walking along the streets.

    Madrid is a city where usually people walks a lot, also thousands take all kind of public transportation like Metro or Buses, in fact
    this city have a very good net of public transports which make the city one of the best about this aspect in Europe.

    The airport is connected to downtown by the tube or some buses what is really unusual in other big cities of Europe or America.
    You do not need to spend a lot of money to go from the airport till the centre of the city and it is really good for the millions
    of tourist that are coming here every year the same as for us when we need to fly.

    Being a good pedestrian or civilized citizen is not as easy as it appears and we need some years or being educated by the
    big city.

    Shortcuts here are the rule also for thousands of workers that every morning need the car to go to the work site, sometimes
    just to the other side of the city and it would takes them more than what is really reasonable.

    Thank you Jeff, we need to learn how to be a good Angelino if we are going to live in the beautiful city of L.A., or only
    going to the large city for a short period of time.


  2. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff ,
    You are funny , the last part of your post is so true. Don’t reveal them otherwise everybody wanna use them to their advantage to circumvent the famous LA gridlock.
    I personally think every city has one or two unwritten rules that locals are familiar with.
    Take Toronto for instance , as you probably know, winter time is very brutal and harsh down here and it sometimes lingers 7 or 8 months. Everybody I guess has heard stories about the notorious winter in Canada
    However,it is not the point , the pint is there are many underground hallways that are called collectively(as a group)” The path.”
    The path is litterally a small city situated right under the major business districts of Downtown Toronto and also all the streets leading to the area.the trick is just a local knows his/her way around all the main and side underground corridors. You can find everything down there foot courts,ritzy restaurant ,and even shoe repair stores.the idea is the path shelter people from freazing temperature outside particularly in January and februaruy when the temperature dropped to minus 20-25 without wind-chill. With windchill feels like monies 30 -35.
    As you probably know Toronto is a windy city. No matter what time of the year the wind always is blowing.
    The nice breeze in summer time turn into a heinous wind-chill in winter.
    Just imagine new comers who land in here in winter time. God bless their souls:)))

    You can fullfill all your daily needs underground without the need to walk on the surface streets if you know all the hall ways like back of your hand.

  3. el comandant says:

    I’m a Spaniard born in Valencia city located next to Mediterranean sea.

    Here there aren’t shortcuts because the city isn’t too much big (810.000 inhabitants). Then, if you want to go from one side to another you can drive through the streets. Better to use public ttnsportation, of course. However there is a way that allows you arrive fastest than any other. That magic way is called “bike”.

    You can use bikes paying just 18 euros per year, and they are in a lot of places around the city. These bikes have been set by our Council.

    Bikes are posible in all cities that its streets are enough flat, like Valencia. Besides, we have here (17,8ºC annual) a weather similar to L.A. (18,9ºC annual). I’m not an elderly, of course, but I’m already 58 years old and I’m using these bikes as a shortcut. Even better, because I don’t need use my car nor busses nor tube. I always win. I win time, I win money, and I win health.


  4. Aina says:

    Jeff: really .You are 20 years . If so , you’re so young

  5. BAKHTIAR says:

    Hello how are you friends now i am sitting at my desk at office with my friend that sometimes we are estranged and sometimes engaged, i mean that we sometimes agree with each other and sometimes we do not , but generally

  6. Johnny says:

    Thank you , Jeff ,for bring us an another rewarding post.

    I’m now living in Shanghai, and traffic transportation here is really convenient, and most of citizens working and living here would prefer to pick up subway for work and going out than to

    choice driving their private car or anything else, the reason is simple , there are more than 10 subways and according to the programming of Chinese government for future ,they would construct

    up to 25 ones by 2050. I thought that would be terrible in some extent for the underground would be nearly go empty. I’m not clear ,just my imagination. The route of some buses is a mile long, rather

    long, so you might wait one hour for the bus number you want to ride. For driving a car , the freeway will be packed in peak time ,It’s really easy to get caught on the highways, while taking

    subway to work would not get you into any trouble above unless that day is out of you(I’m kidding), so from my point of view, the fastest shortcut is to take a subway.

  7. Johnny says:

    This post has called up my experience of taking a bus in hometown when i was a kid.

    My hometown is located in central part of China, we call it “YU”(Henan province) themselves,

    10 years ago, my hometown are not prosperous and booming as it is today, and we didn’t have

    lots of smooth and broad roads at that time, ever time when I went out to downtown I need

    to take a bus, in normal situation, those chauffeurs of buses would like to cut through the main drags,

    because they would be charged road toll if they driving on it.

    Unfortunately,driving on side street is so bumpy and congested that slow drving speed down.

    Even if that was a truth, for those chauffeurs ,they just didn’t want to drive on a shortcut for reducing cost.

  8. Ethan says:

    Here, the importance of knowing shortcuts are becoming less significant due to developing IT technology.
    What I found interesting is that ‘never pay too much attention to celebrities’ works here too. O btw I’m in Seoul, Korea.
    Honestly there’s no point knowing shortcuts because there are simply way too many cars out there. Come to think of soaring gas price and environmental crisis, it’s really hard to believe that more people get to drive on their own.


  9. Ziba says:

    Yes, my city is one of the biggest cities in the wold and crowded. It’s infamous for its traffic, too. There are a lot of shutouts and side streets where you can use to get where you want sooner, but almost all people know them and they are not useful anymore.

    The best ways that don’t take more time to go from one place to another is taking bus or subway. Although they are crowded but the municipality make special routs for buses to take people faster than usual.

    Plus there are some highways around the city and they are very useful especially when you want to get from a side of the city to another side (for instance from north of city to south)

    Now, about unwritten rules: as everyone knows when you are driving and you see an accident please continue your driving and don’t make it slow or stop to see what happened, it increases the traffic.

    Thank you Jeff it is a timely topic with practical words,

    Ziba (Tehran, Iran)

  10. Dan says:


    Living in a small town does not require knowing shortcuts, so I am feeling luky about that.

    I do not know whether the following one is shared or not by other men, but one of my rules while driving is that, if a good looking woman
    is about to cross the road, I stop let her pass and I execute a body scan.

    Again, while driving if I see a hot girl, you know, maily during the summer, I flash her with the front light. Not with a horn blust, that’s rude.

    This makes me think that driving in the summer is not safe, too much distraction.

  11. Sergio says:

    Sorry, Jeff (and Peter and el comandant)…
    Because of the distance, its infamous traffic, the much expensive… shortcuts book,
    I must say… Emiliamo has been more persuasive: Madrid could be a great spot to visit!
    About Rimini (Italy), it’s a really small town [143.321 inhabitants (M 68,649, F 74,672), Density
    per Km2: 1,065.4, area: 134.52 Km2], the city itself is… short! However our county is named
    Romagna, which is the bike and motorbike’s land. My wife, my daughter and I have two cars
    and eight bicylcles!
    ¡nos vemos!

  12. Hilario says:

    Jams for breakfast and dinner.- I think Jeff´s forgot, we know well supposedly trying to avoid unintended publicity, to quote the title about such a great practical piece of urban literature. A book like this can be considered the bible of honest taxidrivers and work commuters in every big city around the world and if it still unwritten on a particular city that should be a must challenge to someone to write it.
    On the other hand, one of the most extensively false excuses for not being punctual could be attenuated by knowing these shortcuts or direct access. But more significantly that could be a help solving one of the most terrible problems in current times daily life. In some highly congested cities, traffic planners are heavily working on designing intelligent GPS systems telling and warning to drivers in advance about best routes and less congested streets access and even available parking spots as a way of avoiding jams forming at rush hours.

  13. Peter says:

    Another thing ,
    Toronto subway system is just two lanes the west -east lane the covers just a part of bloor street ,and the south-north lane that gives access to just a part of yong street.
    The bus system, though, covers most part of the city all they way up to the city limit. The subway trains and buses in Toronto work like a clock. They are totally reliable. In every bus shelter across the city there is a framed post giving the time table and the map showing the rout on which the relative buss travels.
    There are a a significant number of touris attractions Here ,but in all fairness there are a number of tourist traps here. Those tourist traps really take you for a ride:)
    There’s another unwritten rule here: you are better off having a local along while visiting Toronto.



  14. John says:

    “Are shortcuts important where you live? What are some of the unwritten rules of your city?”

    I live in Vienna (Austria) and we have a great public transport system over here; you can go almost anywhere by subway, tramway or bus.
    The annual season ticket is like €450 for Viennese citizens (you can use all Viennese subways,tramways and buses as much and often as you please), that’s quite cheap compared to owning a car (the gas price is pretty high in Austria). Still there’s a lot of people that drive to work.
    Shortcuts are almost only in summer important, due to roadworks. Especially on the main roads, chances are, that you’ll get stuck in a cumbersome traffic jam. Personally, I use the subway a lot – I don’t own a car (though I sometimes use my brother’s one) and I’m fine with it.

    Unwritten rules: It’s considered to be polite, if you don’t talk too loud in public (especially in public traffic) – also it’s kinda impolite if you eat in public traffic (not on the street), especially food that one can easily scent from a far distance (Pizza, Kebab etc.).

  15. Peter says:

    I m the first to admit that I sometimes step over the line. Well, I m hooked on reading the blog and put up stuff on there.
    Sometimes I get all carried away

  16. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Jeff, for this interesting topic.

    I am very worried that I have not written for so long that I nearly forgot how to keyboard.

    So, I have to force myself to take a break from the cleaning and tidying of the house and sit down and write something, for God sake!

    The first time I learned the word ‘shortcut’ was when I was in the final year of my secondary school. I was so desperate to pass the public exam that I bought all the Shortcut to Physics, Shortcut to Chemistry, Shortcut to Biology, etc etc.

    I did not have enough time to study everything in the text books, so my only saviors were all these ‘shortcut’ books.

    Now the shortcuts that Jeff talked about in this article has the same function in our lives – they save our lives.

    Driving in Hong Kong is a totally different game. All the shortcuts were so full with traffic at peak hours. I always take a longer route and use more expensive tolls if I am in a hurry. Longer distance it is, but can help arriving in a shorter time.

    About unwritten rules: all I have in my mind right at this moment is, mothers always look after their children’s everything. From cooking to cleaning to helping with studies and clothes. Where did they write down that a mother must do all this? Nowhere. But then a mother always does this without a doubt.

    Thank you again, Jeff, you are a clever teacher.


    BTW, Aina Says that Jeff is 20 years old, we all know that he is not.

    Jeff has been living in Los Angeles for 20 years, but he lived in other places before.

    Aina if you want to find out how old our teacher Jeff is, just go back to some past podcast, Jeff sometimes tells us how old he is (but he has never revealed his age when there is an announcement of his birthday eg on Friday 24 September 2010).

    In any case, age doesn’t matter, Jeff is a man of integrity which is most important.

  17. emiliano says:

    Being younger than now I like to travel through Europe just a lot.
    One of the cities I like more was Vienna, till the point that I think
    it could be a nice place to live if I would have to change Spain
    or Madrid for another place.

    Yes, I do think Vienna is one of my cities and I agree with
    John about the public system transportation, it was a model.

    To me Vienna was a place to remain and live too beside Madrid.
    Sergio, I have not any doubts that you could enjoy Madrid
    very very much, despite today the temperature is near
    to 40 ºC and several hundred thousands of young pilgrims
    from all round the world are in the streets suffering the
    hot… weather.
    The are awaiting for the Pope who is coming tomorrow.

    Too much faith (I do think) to be in the streets with such a hot
    days, and tomorrow, the day after tomorrow till sunday
    that is the day the Pope is leaving Madrid…..

    It would be a pleasure to meet you Sergio in madrid, like
    to all the friend who would like to come, if you decide to see
    this nice city in future.
    I think Madrid is the city of the art, culture and gastronomy.
    among other nice things.


  18. Sergio says:

    Hi, Peter.
    Did you know an Austrian writer, Robert Musil? He wrote “The man without quality”
    (Der mann ohne eigenshaften).
    I would like to mention you an important – as I see it – Musil’s quote:
    “To pass over the line one needs to be precise (exact) and objective (fair)”.
    I think he wrote that because he laved often pass over the lines…
    After doing everything, I remeber these words… It’s very useful.

  19. Sergio says:

    Sorry, friends, I’ve got a great problem with “after” and “before”, like
    somebody with “left” and “right” (my wife)…
    I would say:
    «I think he wrote that because he lOved often TO pass over the lines…
    B E F O R E doing everything, I remeMber these words… It’s very useful.»

    Definitely, Emiliano: too crowded – errr – the streets in Madrid these days!
    If you will seize and keep Him, I’ll be very happy.

    Only joking…

  20. Johnny says:

    I’m pleased that Betty come back again. That is definitely a big news in this eslpod kingdom

    as you are always a queen to lead us and inspire us to fight for English and life.

    and I thought written rules here in Eslpod is that:

    there’s no regulation or rules to require us we are bound to leave a reply to our teacher’s topic,

    but everyone followed it.

    so I hope more of people could comply with this unwritten rule in Eslpod.

  21. Peter says:

    Thank you Serigi for mentioning me
    Dear Ziba
    Do you nean you have a running subway system down there? When did you get that!!!?
    Ziba I enjoyed your comment
    Hang in there Sis
    You may want to slow down as you are approaching a road accident. If you don’t slow down ,you might get into accident for the build up traffic caused by the accident happened down the road.
    Don’t be a rubber neck , but be sure you slow down sis:)

  22. emiliano says:

    Yes, I agree absolutely with Johnny as I am very happy seeing Betty again
    with us, she is a treasure in this blog and we must be grateful to her for
    her work, her thoughts and nice polite character.

    I don´t like to push anybody scarcely about anything but It is important
    for this site and for us to have Betty contribution here.

    To me it is a very special gift every one of your comments.

    Very welcome dear friend.


  23. katia kouzelis says:

    Well here in São Paulo Brazil we have the traffic minus the celebrities ( you would have a better chance of seeing them in Rio ).Our biggest passtime in traffic is talking on the mobile I’m afraid. Although you can get fined for doing this, people all around you do while you’re there stuck.Sometimes the jams can take hours to get out of. It’s depressing really, so I try to not do things during the rush hour or use the subway.

  24. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    I like your sentence structures particularly on the current post.
    To tell you the truth, I have worked a system. I usually surf the blog and Lucy’s scripts and collect the interesting ,hard-to-come by sentence structures you guys utilize. I spot the structures , and then, log the time of the entry along with the title of the relative post on which the sentence structure originally used, that way i can find the contex in which the sentence is employed when it is necessary :).Believe it or not, I have been doing it for 4 straight years. The result is a kind of thick log book with a smal lock on it with a lock combination of course. When I want to kick back and relax( Eslpod ,number 99 ,,title “sitcom and Games”,)
    I usually go to a local Starbucks; get a Venti cafe late and flip through the log book for hours. Belive you me, this my only hubby that I always look forward to getting into it.
    Sometimes , it happens that I spend the entire weekend doing that. I never feel lonely , as long as I have Eslpod alone.
    It is a little quirk of mine( something that a person does -that is , it is different with the norm or the conventional way) that I just shared with you guys
    My comments is a good proof of my claim, because Eslpod is all over them:))



  25. Tyres Glasgow says:

    In Glasgow, if you take a short cut, someone will probably try and mug you or something.

  26. Ziba says:

    Dear Peter,
    Yes we have subway here but it is very crowded especially in rush hours. I’ve used it several times and as you said, yes I have to hang in, Peter, and there is not any space especially for breathing.

    And about accident, sorry Peter I should have told you that when people slow down or stop to see what happened at the accident maybe they block the road and there will be a terrible traffic so that the help like ambulance can’t come soon.

    Thank you Peter for you kind comment.

    By the way,Peter, my English is not as good as yours. I don’t know some expression in English, so maybe I didn’t get your meaning. If so, I’m so sorry.


Comments are closed.