Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dear LAX, Tear Down this Wall!

Usually when I'm picking someone up from the airport, I will park and meet them at baggage claim. Yesterday, however, I was running a bit late. See, my niece is getting married this weekend and since she lives three hours north of me, she asked if I could do her a solid and pick up her best friend and former college roommate from LAX since her plane was landing midday and my niece wouldn't even be getting off work until 5pm. I'm a giver...all about helping the family out, especially a bride to be. I was armed with her friend's cell phone number and flight information and I mean, really - HOW HARD CAN THIS BE? Right? Uhhh...

I've only met the friend one time and I could vaguely remember what she looks like BUT! She had texted me that she had landed and was waiting outside her terminal on the sidewalk and I texted her back that I was at the airport but still working my way through OMG SO MUCH TRAFFIC GAH!!! ...and gave her the description of my car and that I would be pulling up shortly.

Easier said than done.

Picking someone up curbside at LAX is a little like trying to plow through the security gates of the Berlin Wall -in rush hour traffic. There are hundreds of travelers milling about and rushing both to AND fro. While you're craning your neck and searching for your passenger that is somewhere on that sidewalk you're also trying to avoid getting plowed by an airport shuttle, taxi, or fellow vehicle as they recklessly dart away from the curb and also staying vigilant to grab the next opening to pull up to the curb before someone else grabs it. It's hectic and stressful and sucks all kinds of ass.

As luck (for lack of a better word and believe me, there are better) would have it, just as I reached the location where the friend claimed she was, a taxi pulled out and I grabbed his spot [Note to taxi drivers at LAX: What's with all the honking? Calm down.]

Now here is where I made my first mistake: Because I was so distracted with trying to spot the friend in the crowd and simultaneously find an opening to pull up, and avoid getting in any kind of fender bender, and avoid nailing a pedestrian...I inadvertently pulled up BEHIND THE TAXI ONLY LINE. Oh. My. Hell. This was bad, people. This was a major no-no and I was about to be schooled on the proper procedure for navigating one's self through LAX.

I no sooner pulled into that spot when an airport policeman appeared out of no-effing-where -perhaps he repelled down from the ceiling all Mission Impossible like - writing my (I assume) license plate number down and was shining his flashlight in my car and in my face and then IMMEDIATELY DEMANDING MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. I know this is what he wanted because he was SCREAMING a steady flow of questions and rules in my face while I was still in mid-roll down window mode. It went something like this "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY ARE YOU PARKED HERE? YOU CAN'T PARK HERE! TAXI ONLY!" Me...stammer, friend, pick up, stutter, here, sputter, trying to find, stammer, sorry, didn't realize, sorrrryyy... Him: "IF YOU DON'T SEE YOUR PERSON YOU KEEP DRIVING AND COME AROUND AGAIN!! YOU DON'T STOP! NOT HERE!! TAXI ONLY! YOU GO THERE!" And he gestures to pull forward.

Or so I thought. Now here's where I made my second mistake: I pulled forward. And stopped. And he struck down upon thee me and my vehicle with great vengeance and furious anger [Pulp Fiction, anyone?]. Turns out he wasn't gesturing for me to pull forward. He gestured for me to get the feck out of there. And pronto. Like, yesterday, pronto. And, boy howdy. Was he ever pissed off.

It's been a very long time since I've been yelled at by someone. And never have I been completely screamed at by a police officer. It went something like, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? I JUST TOLD YOU!!! I WILL GIVE YOU A TICKET!! YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!! GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!!"

And of course I'm all kinds of stuck because I'm blocked in from front and behind and there are cars all piled up one behind the other to my left. And he won't stop screaming at me to get out of there and reminds me several times that he WILL GIVE ME A TICKET! I have all three of my kids in the car and I'm this close to crying and it's obvious by my cracking voice, and I'm hollering back at him that I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I misunderstood, I'm sorry, I'm trying to go, stuck, can't, sorry, going, sorry, I'M SO SORRY!!!

Yeah, I finally got out of there. And yeah, I finally found the friend. And yeah, there was a fire just south of my house on the way home that resulted in us getting stuck on the freeway when THEY CLOSED IT!

Then I died. The end.

20 comments:

Amanda said...

Thank you for this little reminder as to why I never want to move back to So. Cal.

GAH. I'm stressed FOR you.

kelly said...

Are airport cops like this because they believed the lies about the super cool airport job that's just shy of being a real security detail? And now they are bored out of their minds because not much really happens at the airport? So they find people to take it out on just to spice up their day?

Anonymous said...

That cop had no right to disrespect you in that way, no matter how many mistakes you made, even more so as he was yelling at a car full of children in addition to you! I'm sure he clearly saw & heard that your actions weren't intentional! You should write a letter to his supervisor! He was unprofessional, verbally abusive and inappropriate. Period. You really should, Mel. You & your kids did not deserve that!

Manic Mommy said...

Call the TSA! Call the NSA! Call the freaking National Guard! A mom got confused at the airport! Noooooo! I am reliving my fury at being similarly screamed by a cop at in front of my kids at their school for moving forward in the drop off line.

Who the eff do they think they are?? Go catch a real criminal! I'm so sorry you had to endure that humiliation from this dickless wonder. I am so mad for you!

The Mother said...

This is why I park and walk in.

Seriously, if you're gonna direct traffic for a living, you really need to develop a less ambiguous method of signaling.

Or at least not through a hissy fit when you are not understood.

Rebecca said...

Awww. What is the reason he had to be so MEAN!?! Is there no understanding that some people don't navigate the airport regularly (at least not through the pick up line.)

I'm sorry that was so stressful! (and people need to learn a lesson on being NICE... even airport police people who clearly have a power trip going on.)

Vicky said...

Great post, I got stressed out reading it LOL

MommyTime said...

Airport cops are THE WORST. I think it's because they feel emasculated riding around on those bikes wearing the silly yellow helmets. I'm sorry for your Close Encounter of the Horrible Kind.

Lisa..... said...

I hate the airport security people, who are way over caffinated and too into their whistles. Sure it must suck to be out there with all of those crazy people in cars, but they have NO PATIENCE.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Thanks guys! Yeah, dude be trippin.

JoeinVegas said...

Wow, fun summer time in the car with three kids.

Nil Zed said...

OMG, the last time I had to pick my daughter up at LAX, it was all the hell you described, plus, a famous person was having car trouble and everyone was slowing to a stop to look at her standing beside her broken down, classic, hood up in the pick up lane vintage car. (actually, per my daughter, famous person was inside, hiding behind a column, her much looking like her sister was the one by the car being harassed.)(harassed by people wanting pictures I mean. Not by cops. This was a famous person,after all.) But in the meantime, all the usual thousdands of people and cars and taxis and shuttles and police telling everyone not to stop when, duh, you HAVE to stop sooner or later, all of those people were creeping slowly by, trying to see the famous person.

I told my daughter next time? I'm giving her $20 specifically for a taxi to a shopping center on Sepulveda. I'll meet her there.

Stu said...

This is where you say "ICH nicht sprechen Englisch"

Then nod, a lot.

-Stu

Katie said...

Suddenly? My day yesterday? Not so bad! Thanks for the perspective.

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tashile said...

As I was reading this, I was reminded of the time I was in highschool when I had to go pick a friend who was drunk from a party. On my way to my friend's house, I was pulled over for a brake light being out. My drunk friend was confused and ....did I mention she was drunk? Anyway, she thought we were at a drive-thru and attempted to order fries and a shake from the cop's crotch. Upon realizing that she was not at a drive-thru..she told said cop to (and I quote) "Get your fucking dick out of my face". Mind you, she was screaming this from my driver's side window. How neither of us was arrested was a minor miracle. Moments like that are what living is for....however, apparently not as exciting as your trip to LAX.

ella said...

OYE!
I just hate it when this happens.
You can comfort yourself by knowing if they knew what they were doing and had made room for all the peeps arriving at that airport, there wouldn't be the utter confusion as to where to go.

All they can do is throw some cops at the problem and hope that works. It doesn't.

Jayce said...

Silly Tootsie. Mistake #1 was trying to pick someone up curbside during rush hour. It's crazy as you saw. If I ever have to do that I just pull in the parking lot to the left, you're only gonna pay like $2 for a short park. Then just walk over and find the person. Much less stressful.

The airport cops appear to be jerks in situations like that because they've gotta keep the line moving. You'd be amazed at how many people just pull up there and park then get out to go find the person they are picking up. Not saying some of them aren't but I'd probably be an asshole about things too if I had that job. :D

TRS said...

WHY on Earth are taxis and ... I dunno... citizen drivers in the same line?! OMG!

At DIA (Denver) passenger pick up is on the level below baggage claim.... and Taxis, shuttles and other modes of transport pick up on the level above... IN THEIR OWN LANES ..one for taxis, one for shuttles and one for RTD (city bus) that way the sort of mix up you described doesn't happen.

Almost every airport I've traveled to has separate lanes for taxis/rental car shuttles etc...

No wonder it's such a snafu!

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