Are people in Los Angeles getting angrier? (A non-political post for Margie)

One of my neighbors “displayed” his gun to another neighbor’s gardener the other day. I was on a conference call and missed the fun that ensued when my two neighbors got into a heated argument about it (my wife’s description, as she caught the last two minutes). It’s a good thing I missed it because I would have called the police. When a gun comes out, that’s process step 1 for me.

If cannons, not guns, were legal, we'd have a fewer killings and more people going to chiropractors instead of prison

Today I saw the good neighbor, who is a friend and the one who didn’t brandish a gun in the light of day, and he filled me in.

Turns out his large tree overhangs Dirty Harry’s property. And as an act of kindness, his gardener went to the front door of Mr. Harry to ask permission to move something on the property to access the tree and to make sure his cars weren’t damaged from falling debris. But no one answered the door.

When the gardener tried again, he was confronted by Mr. Harry who had a shotgun or machine gun – some kind of big gun. Then the argument started about it not being a polite gesture to greet a gardener with a weapon of death instead of a rake or hoe.

Now I know most of my neighbors probably own guns. This is Los Angeles where it’s almost mandatory, though I’ve managed to resist the impulse, thinking that I’d probably use it on myself in those dark moments of blood clots and hemoptysis. But here’s a neighbor who feels like we’re living on the open range and he’s protecting his property from cattle rustlers.

What do I do? Or don’t do?

This is the kind of photograph that lures people to California. It's all Hollywood magic. The bird is fake and the beach is a painted backdrop.

Move? I don’t know, but it was the first thought that crossed my mind.

It does make me wonder if my unscientific theory that people are growing angrier is true.

I don’t have any facts to back this up.

It’s the feeling I get when I see how people treat each other in public, how they drive, how certain neighbors could give a flying fudge bar if they return a “hello” while I’m walking in the neighborhood – to the point I feel like flipping them the bird when I see them – a pre-emptive strike – which would illicit a response from them or a comment like, “you’re the worst neighbor ever and I wish you’d f’ing move.” Hello to you, too, neighbor, glad you finally acknowledged my presence. 

I experience this hostility in the way men treat my wife when I’m not with her (another post coming soon).

I wonder if this city is suffering from traumatic or post-traumatic stress syndrome. We’re going through our days carrying so much stress and tension that we’re ready to snap at anyone, and are too burned out to be courteous.

It’s a just a hunch, but I feel it in my bones.

Unemployment is high in California; illegal drugs are popular; foreclosures with For Sale signs in the front yard and near-foreclosures with brown lawns, broken picket fences and half-finished additions lace neighborhoods. Do these daily images impact our sub-conscious?

Worry. Overrated and un-fun. (Creative Commons: Photo by Steve Snodgrass)

And then there is the constant worry we’re not working hard enough at our jobs and could be laid off at anytime to save the company money. And we’re working longer hours to make up for the whole “do more with less” mentality of companies during the recession. And there are the bills.

If we lose our jobs, where would we be? Brandishing a gun at a hard-working gardener? Walking into a beauty salon in Seal Beach to kill eight innocent people in an unspeakable, tragic act of violence?

I don’t know anymore. The older I get, the less I know.

Maybe I should have taken the advice of the first bumper sticker I saw when I moved to L.A.: Welcome to California, now go home. 

8 thoughts on “Are people in Los Angeles getting angrier? (A non-political post for Margie)

  1. I was so sorry to hear about the terrible shooting. How awful for all those people, but I think mostly about that poor little boy – who has now lost his mother and his father will be in jail. The biggest loser in this shocking situation.

    I remember a comment by Chris Rock who said “let everybody have all the guns they want, but make the bullets cost them $10k a piece and you will see a lot less deaths from gun violence (or some comment similar)…” It was of course, a comedy piece, but food for thought nonetheless.

    I understand how the ‘right to bear arms’ is a huge issue for many Americans, but it seems to me the shootings are far too frequent and catastrophic, with the laws the way they are. We didn’t own guns and saw no reason to – and lived safely and happily for 10 years – without regretting that decision.

    • Karyn,

      I love the Chris Rock quote. Awesome and true. I hate guns. We will never get rid of them in this country so I don’t think about them much until my neighbors start pulling them out. And one neighbor shot another in front of my house many years ago. Not a fan of that happening.

      People here love their guns and rights. And many are not very bright and wear American flag underwear and hate people of color. So, it’s a complicated issue. Never going to be solved.

      I’ve often thought of getting one, but I kept flashing back on a college moment when we learned most gun owners never used them and many times when they do it’s to accidentally shoot themselves in the face.


  2. Oh boy, you really need to move to the midwest. We actually like (most of) our neighbors and I’m pretty sure very few of them have guns. It seems like a bit of a slower pace here. Maybe you do need a change of scenery?

    • Stacey,

      I could never move to the midwest because I need to see the sun every day. I don’t know how you live there in the clouds and gray days. I’m moving to AUS anyway. We’re going to live on the beach with the kangaroos and koalas.


  3. Ha! I LOVE your political posts (of course because I agree with everything you say). Keep ’em coming please. And let’s face it, there’s tons of politics in this one too.

    When I first read today’s title, I thought, “I don’t know about everyone else in LA, but I’m sure getting angrier.” So when you read about the cranky “lady” who pulled a shotgun on her neighbor for letting his giant pit bull leave a giant poop in her yard, you should know it was me. Hmmm, maybe this is why my husband won’t allow firearms. From what I gather though, this is not unique to LA. Oh sure, our traffic and crowds make it harder, but I think the whole country, our 99%, is stressed to the max and it’s showing.

    • Margie,

      Glad you agree with me, which may mean you are crazy. Sorry to break it to you, but when you start agreeing with the inmates, that’s not a good sign.

      When dogs poop in our yard, I reach for the gun I don’t have, too, but I’d shoot the owner not the dog.

      I agree with you on the whole country being stressed, except our friend Stacey who seems to be quite calm these days living in Ohio.


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