Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Letter to the Uninformed

Dear Los Angeles:

You suck.

Love,

Claire

PS Do you know how long it took me to find any kind of work in Los Angeles? Well, okay, weird piecework jobs, I managed to string together, those weren't as hard as -- say -- laying asphalt. But do you know how many resumes I sent out? 10 a day. EVERY. DAY. Do you know how many interviews I went on? NONE. Unless you count the visit to the temp agency that showed me a film about workplace injury designed mostly to test whether or not you knew to put the truss around your waist and not on your head or down your pants, and asked me a questionnaire designed for the monumentally naive.

It was a forty-question jobbie, apparently cleverly designed by the same people who put together the MMPI, with multiple differently-worded questions to catch you out if you happened to be lying. It became quite apparent after the first four questions what kind of applicants usually work at temp agencies though. "True or false -- Sometimes I use violence to solve problems at work." "I use cocaine...Every Day/Once A Week/Every Couple of Weeks/Rarely/Never" "Have you ever falsely claimed a workman's compensation form?" "True or false -- Taking a little nip on the job isn't so bad." "Are you sure you're not a violent, drug-addicted, insurance fraud? Tell the truth!"

In Los Angeles, when Trader Joe's opened a new store, they got 800 applicants. Now given, TJ's offers full health coverage to employees if you work 3 days a week, so they're probably like the Holy Grail of part-time work, but still. That's a lot of applications. I doubt if anyone I gave resumes to even saw them; more likely, they went into some huge slush pile with a sign on it that said either "INCINERATE" or "For Immediate Recycling." Everything advertised as paying the lucrative sum of $8-10 per hour, which in Los Angeles is about enough to keep you from being evicted out of that nice refrigerator box you've managed to set up behind the Ralph's, with the screenwriter from Pacoima and your boss' cleaning lady. All sharing the same box.

Do you know how long it took me to find a job in Perth? I arrived on Wednesday of last week...by Monday, I had a job offer. Today, literally one week after I set foot on this continent, I have a job that is not only interesting and emotionally fulfilling, but literally two blocks from my house, ON MY WAY to the University where I will be studying, and well-paid. The boss and I were both woefully disappointed that I'm not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week: "I'll schedule you for as much as you want," she told me. I go in on Friday for an orientation, and start my first shift on Sunday.

Have I mentioned that it takes an hour to drive ANYWHERE in Los Angeles? Well, it does. Remember how it's supposed to be a seaside town, with waves sloshing over rocks and the gorgeous, omnipresent sun bearing down on the surfers? guess what else they have here in Australia? Sun. Warmth. All the time. It's a desert, but even in the winter, it doesn't go under 10 degrees Celsius. The ocean and white sandy beaches are about half an hour away...BY EASILY ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC TRANSIT. Do you know how hard it was to go to the beach in California? Who wants to drive for an hour and a half through gridlocked traffic on the 405 to join several squalling kids being looked after by a Mexican nanny while their recently Botoxed mother flips through People magazine?

You know what else Perth has? Smiling, happy, friendly people. Everyone chats with you. It's like a small town, where people actually mean it when they ask you out for coffee, instead of Los Angeles, where someone could nick a small cut in each of your thumbs and press them together, swearing Blood Brotherhood Forever, and then the next day, they won't even return your phone calls. People here are nice. They help you. (Well, except in the International Office at Curtin, but that's another story.) They're tolerant of your failings, like not knowing they're called "bathers" instead of "swimsuits." (Silly Americans.)

PPS Oh, and you know what else? People in Australia have got senses of humor. I was always having to explain jokes in California, especially because people take themselves so f-ing seriously. Here, everyone takes the piss ALL THE TIME. It's like the national hobby, after avoiding poisonous creatures.

You know why nobody really needs to provide health insurance with their jobs, either? They have universal health care.

PPPS Also the money is pretty. Colorful, and different sizes, and cool clear plastic windows in it. And they sell cough syrup with codeine in it.

So, Los Angeles? I know we had a bit of an abusive relationship, where neither of us really wanted to be together, but we put up with each other for the sake of the children. I know we had our fights, our massive flaming battles of seething violence, and our cold-shoulder late-night freeze-outs. I know I cried numerous times over your high gas prices and impossibly fake boobs, your long distances and two-hour commutes. So consider this the final notice. We're broken up. I'm returning your stuff. I'll just leave it in a box on your porch. Don't bother coming to the door.

6 comments:

Ray Lee said...

Is L.A. really an inanimate object? I think of it more as something Lovecraftian, wriggling and crawling out of the murky depths of the darkest parts of the inhabitants collective subconscious.

That said, I think that's the only thing in your tirade that I take the least bit of umbrage at, and that was merely in your tag. L.A. is simply hell-hole.

SoFauxBoho said...

Editor's Note: When you refer to Los Angeles by the name of the state it is in ("California") it also includes this entire Northern area that has as little do with LA as possible. Northern tries not to snub LA at the occasional mandatory family reunions, as god knows poor old LA is high strung and melodramatic enough as it is, but Northern recognizes that sometimes being carefully estranged can be best for everyone involved.

So if you'd like to visit somewhere that is not terrible in the ways you describe, but rather in rather dissimilar ways, I welcome you to visit.

Our money is still ugly, though.

Claire said...

No, I really was always having to explain jokes in CALIFORNIA, not just in LA. And it was hard to get to the beach in SF too. :)

Arlette said...

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiine I accept that Perth is awesome, but it sure makes that whole Jonestown documentary / craft night thing harder to do.

squeekster said...

I'm happy for ya. Perth seems to be an awesome place. Especially in the public transportation department. It sounds like the type of place where you don't have bus drivers who'd rather cut their own throats than actually give you directions.

I must say though, I demand pictures of places in Perth!

Sharp11Girl said...

Justin "takes the piss." I'm just sayin'