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To Live and Drive in Los Angeles

I get the finger for being nice?

stop sign

Last week I was driving home from physical therapy for my back. I was in a good mood; the exercises I've been doing at home are finally paying off and my core is getting stronger. I made a full stop at a three way intersection. A car to my right got there a hair later but I smiled and waved him on. I was in no hurry. As the blue Lexus passed in front of me to make a left, the white haired driver slowly lifted his hand and flipped me an arthritic bird. What? I get the finger for being nice?

When I lived in Miami I would generally stop at stop signs - but Los Angeles is...different?

I arrived in Los Angeles like a reformed smoker - I'd glare at drivers who didn't respect the sign or rolled into it because very few people in LA observe stop signs. Or maybe it's all of California. A year ago I was visiting a friend in San Francisco and she didn't even slow down at intersections, she just kept going. It was terrifying. Rolling is not stopping. It says so online ( So yeah, I used to glare and fume but with the windows rolled up so nobody would hear my grumbling. Over the years, my road rage has diminished and I do my best to be pleasant. When a person takes their time to wave me on, I smile and wave back. I silently send them positive energy when they don't stop which is why I was so perplexed at this recent encounter.

There is one thing Angelenos stop for: sirens. It's pretty amazing to be on a crowded street like Wilshire Boulevard or Ventura during rush hour traffic when a fire truck approaches. The light could be green but people stop in the middle of the road and wait for it to pass.

I consider myself a good driver - but don't we all?

Part of my college years were spent going up and down the New Jersey turnpike to get to college but that was nothing compared to maneuvering Bogota's city streets for nine years. That's where I learned to drive defensively: avoiding potholes the size of a tire, overbearing trucks, and nasty cab drivers tailing me while honking their horns. With a stick shift, no less. Miami drivers are in a class by themselves, the slowest going in the fastest lane.

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. " - Saint Augustine

So after thinking about it for a while, I'm blessing the cranky, finger pointing man over and over.

"I forgive you for giving me the finger, and for doing it so awkwardly. May your fingers grow strong. Have a calm, peaceful end of year."

Pilar Uribe
Pilar Uribe is an actor and voice talent, known for Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999), Wonderguy (1993) and Second Extinction (2020). Catch Pilar in video games, feature films, and tv shows + follow on Instagram and YouTube for more...


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