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.