Los Angeles – first experiences

So I’ve arrived in Los Angeles. It’s a big, smoggy city, but I’m on the northernmost end just in the southwest shadow of Mt San Antonio, where the smog is less noticeable. My first day at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is tomorrow, but I just want to share a few observations I’ve found amusing so far.

  • Taxi drivers get confused if you try and sit in the front seat. My driver had his lunch on the front seat, and as I patiently waited for him to move it, he just stared at me and eventually said, you don’t want to sit in the back sir? Back seat it was.
  • I gave the same taxi driver a note slightly larger than the fare, and was going to tell him he could keep it all as a tip, but he pocketed it before I could say it was a tip.
  • Coffee here is more expensive, bigger, hotter (I burned my tongue) and tastes slightly worse. Even a small coffee at JPL is larger than a large in Australia. The rumours were true!
  • I saw a SpaceX rocket stage casually standing upright near the airport. As they do.
  • “Pardon me, baked goods?” Is an acceptable way of asking saying “Hey mate, where’s your bread?”
  • No one here knows what a kettle is. I asked one lady if she had a kettle, and she looked a bit confused, then asked if I meant a coffee maker. I said, no, that thing that boils water. She asked why I don’t use a pot on the stove. Fair point…
Me: Huh USA doesn’t seem that different so far. Also me: $6 US for a soy coffee!?

Small rant about the otherwise perfect flight. I ordered a vegan meal and double checked with the airline several days before, and even went so far as to confirm the ingredients. I was given a pasta with cheese for lunch. I said, excuse me, I think this has cheese, I ordered the vegan meal? They said, oh, sorry, this is listed as vegan, let me see what I can find. He came back and said, try this one sir. It was an identical cheese pasta.

A very similar thing happened with a friend of mine on the same airline (United Airlines), and she said she complained until they gave her a voucher for several hundred dollars, which is what I intend to do. All I can say is, if you fly United (or anyone) and the same thing happens, complain and get a voucher until the only sound business plan is to get their shit together.

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