July 29, 2009

Europe and LA

barcelona.JPGI've been traveling for the last 3 months. I spent 7 weeks in Europe, and now I'm in LA visiting again. This time, I'm staying for a month. I'm living next to Occidental College in a house that takes me back 10 years ago to starting college at 1234 Alameda Ave with my brother. There's something about housing next to colleges that is universally familiar. Is it all of the college students? Something else, or a combination of things? I don't know.

Europe was educational, I had a great time, but of course it reinforced a lot of stereotypes. Italians are insane drivers and don't know how to make a queue. Germans are clean and a little reserved. Spaniards are friendly and stay up really late. Beyond that, I saw that there are a lot of different ways to do things and still get similar results: more than one way to skin a cat. Things I think we should adopt from Europe: Deposits on shopping carts; no compulsory tipping; greater importance on higher education; greater food quality and diversity; and better public transportation. Things Europe needs: public toilets (do you want your cities smelling like piss?), free water, and free internet. We both have problems with our governments, but they probably have more.

The shopping carts deposit thing is just an annoyance of mine. Why can't you assholes take 20 seconds and put your shopping carts away so that they don't turn the parking lot into an obstacle course? I know you're driving far far away and no one will know that you are the asshole that left it there, but it's kind of like litter. If you don't throw trash on the ground in my neighborhood I won't throw trash on the ground in your neighborhood and then we won't have to pick up after each other. Regardless, the whole deposit thing solves the problem of your laziness very economically. Albeit with the minor annoyance of needing change to do your shopping.

Tipping. Compulsory tipping is just dumb. I don't know how this cultural phenomenon caught on in America. I'm going to a restaurant. I'm buying food. Why do I have to decide how good of a job your waiter or waitress is doing? You're the one that hired them. Find a good one or two. Pay them a good wage. Roll it into the cost of your food, and now I don't have to be bothered with the bullshit of tipping at the end of every meal. Plus, waiters, valets, pizza delivery boys, people who get tipped generally make more money than they are really worth. What they are worth is on a different scale/market than everyone else because they aren't being paid in the same manner as everyone else. If they only made around 8 bucks an hour, maybe more kids would want to go to college instead of parking cars for a living, making more than they could being a school teacher or police officer. In a society where valets make more than public servants, you get smart valets and dumb police officers. Nice work.

Anyway, I'm enjoying LA. I missed the west and the snobs, my snob especially. If all goes as planned I'll be back out west after graduation.

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