The Value of Reference Points


An Empty Parking Lot at Target- Got to love it.

My second day in town someone told me that if I am smart I’ll find “the shortcuts around 35 and 820 because traffic and construction are bad.”

I had to smile at that because my reference points for traffic are the freeways around Los Angeles. I know traffic and I know what it means to have to be in the car for extended periods of time because you just aren’t moving as fast as you would like to.

And I know what it means to find alternate routes and how sometimes the “shortcut” isn’t any faster but it feels good because you are still moving and that feels better than sitting in a line of cars.

Twenty Minutes

I thanked the woman for the advice and asked her if she could provide more specific details about how long it would take to travel between the two parts of town I had to hit and she said twenty minutes.

That made me smile again but it also raised a number of questions. That is because it is tied into the old joke about how long it takes to go from point A to B in Los Angeles.

The answer is always twenty minutes even when it takes much longer or far less. So when you say it takes twenty minutes I wonder if that is an “LA” twenty minutes or if it is really twenty minutes.

It makes a difference, how else do I figure out when I should leave.

A Horse and A Funny Accent

One of the first questions my daughter asked was if I was going to ride a horse and have a funny accent. I had to laugh and smile at that one too, but I wasn’t surprised because her reference point didn’t come from first hand experience.

It is really no different from the comments and questions I get about Los Angeles about earthquakes, traffic, gangs and movie stars. If your reference point is limited to what you have seen in the movies or heard from others it is easy to be “confused” about the reality of the situation.

The Untourist Rides Again

I suppose that part of the reason I am trying to become the untourist is to create accurate reference points so that I know what people mean when they say “twenty minutes” or other things along those lines.

And I wonder when old reference points will blur against the current ones and I won’t be surprised when I can walk through Costco during the week and find it half empty.

How long will it take for this place to start to feel more like home and not just a vacation.  There is no right or wrong answer to that question or need to rush. It is just something I am curious about.

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