In New England we talk about the weather, in California we talk about the traffic

October 21, 2016

Mark Twain is credited with saying, “people always talk about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.” Indeed, weather makes for easy conversation, especially in the Northeast where it can be as fickle as... idk, fickle stuff.


“Looks like rain today,” is always an easy conversation starter as you find yourself awkwardly in stride with that annoying coworker as you walk towards the lunch room. “Global warming is your fault,” I always liked to respond with.


What I’ve realized here in the Southwest is, without much of a change in weather, we still have a need to fill those awkward conversational gaps. In comes traffic! The skits are real, folks here really do love talking about their high---excuse-me---freeways. CIG alerts, broken meters, construction on the 5, a crash on the 57... I had a student miss school the other day because the 91 was “impossible to get through.” Let me repeat, she did not come to school because of traffic.


The other day, Cherry Glazer on 89.9 reported "a tanker just flipped into the carpool lane and traffic is stop-and-go for ages," and this was as close to a snow day as kids going west on the 22 were going to get out here. Nobody at work could stop talking about it.


So why do we need common observances to bind us together in those small moments of silence? There are hundreds of tips to having non-passive conversations with stranger, classes in “how to small talk with CEOs,” I even have a friend who does improv with people who are there just to get better at talking in social spaces. Real conversation is hard, man! But even though we might know these fall somewhere between complaining about the printer and gossiping about a student on the conversational hierarchy, weather and traffic are our safety nets in case of a social emergency.


So, too long didn't read: the goddamn toner is out of ink and David is wearing eyeliner to school again I think he’s gay and oh… did you see Brookhurst Street this morning, it was a nightmare!

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