Posted by: Old Sally Draper | January 3, 2011

Life in the Bay Area

Flash forward to the present day, and life is a great deal better. I’ve lived in Berkeley, California for many years, and I love it here.

Life in Northern California, specifically the Bay Area, is kind of strange, but not in the ways you’re probably thinking. East Coast people, like my own beloved brother Bobby, think the entire state is Los Angeles. This is a large misconception.

Generally, long-time Bay Area residents hate Los Angeles, either secretly or openly. If asked why, they’ll usually say something like “they steal our water.” This is the vast political issue that Californians have been arguing about for generations, and its details elude me. All I know is that the clogged freeways, ubiquitous palm trees and aggressively perfect-looking people of the southern part of my adopted state frighten me. The slower pace of Northern California is more my speed.

The Bay Area in 2011

  • Bay Area residents are  just not interested when we hear about a 3.0 earthquake outside of California. Don’t bother me until it’s at least 6.0.
  • When asked how far away somewhere is, the answer is in time, not distance. It’s 25 minutes from Berkeley to San Francisco if you go when there’s no traffic, or an hour most of the time.
  • You’ll frequently hear passionate arguments over  Starbucks vs Peets. Starbucks burns the hell out of their coffee, and they use syrup instead of espresso for their lattes. It’s shit, man!
  • Don’t ever suggest to an Apple aficionado that Apple products are in any way inferior. Steve Jobs is the greatest visionary of all time. Don’t say anything bad about my iPhone just because the alarm doesn’t work!
  • If you see someone wearing shorts in San Francisco in August, you can be sure they’re not from the Bay Area. C’mon kids, let’s get on the cable car!
  • Everybody recycles. There are even recycling bins inside Costco and on streetcorners. You get dirty looks if you don’t use them properly.
  • “Cali” is a tipoff that the speaker is not from the Bay Area. No one says Cali. So uncool.
  • “Hella” means “very.” It was hella cool.
  • Saying “Frisco” is simply not allowed. We’re going over to The City.
  • Just about everybody is a Democrat. Everybody watches Jon Stewart.
  • In the Bay Area, freeways have numbers, not names, and there is no “the.” Saying “The 101” brands you as a Southern Californian. State highways are called Highway, though. Go south on 101.
  • It never rains here in the summer. Fog yes, rain no.
  • It almost never snows here, except on the mountaintops.
  • Anything south of Bakersfield is “L.A.” And we don’t even like to talk about that, except to go to Disneyland.
  • Everyone over the age of 12 has a cell phone.
  • A sure way to stop any conversation dead, in any company, is to say anything even mildly sexist, racist, or homophobic. Drive about 20 miles east if you want to do that.
  • Only 13% of adult Californians smoke. The figure is a great deal lower in the Bay Area. If you want to be a pariah, just torch up some tobacco. It’s almost impossible to find an ashtray anywhere.

Next post: back to the Sally Draper saga.



  1. This is especially interesting to an LA guy like me. Fascinating.

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