Does This Thing Hit Wilshire?
What is it about driving in Los Angeles that brings out the bizarre?

I don't mean the stereotypical quirks that so many comedians have made their name on. When I moved here from Wisconsin, I expected to share the road with a bunch of impolite, loud, fast, skillful drivers that resented my comparatively plodding style. I've been largely disappointed. It turns out those drivers are all in Boston; LA drivers are weird, not maniacal.

Of all the eccentric stunts LA drivers pull, the one that confuses me the most is asking for directions in the middle of traffic. I can't go a week without someone rapping on the window of a car I'm in and asking if this street hits Wilshire. My car is convertible, so I often don't get the benefit of a window knock, just someone in the next car over yelling "Yo! Does this go to Century City?" Granted, it's usually while traffic is stopped, but I still wouldn't be surprised to hear "is this the way to the 405" over the din of traffic.

There's only so much information you can exchange at a stop light, and if it's enough to solve your problem, you weren't lost. It's right around here; you'll find it. If you find yourself truly lost, do what people in the rest of the country do: stop to ask directions.

Yes, stop. Pull off the road, and ask someone who is likely to know the area and is expecting to talk to the public. A gas station attendant or a restaurateur is a good choice. If this were any other city, I would suggest a cop.

That simple plan seems antithetical to the LA driver, and the bizarre idea that the guy next to them might know seems somehow more logical. The possibility that the guy next to them doesn't know the area any more than they do doesn't seem to come up. The idea that rapping on a stranger's car window or shouting a question over the din of traffic might be rude or threatening is dismissed. They think, "I'll just get his attention away from that song on the radio, and I'll solve my problem without leaving the road."

Apparently not leaving the road is how you win the LA driving game.

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