For what might’ve been the first time ever, I had detailed plans of what to do once I arrived into Los Angeles International Airport a little over a week ago. Normally, I just hop in a taxi, call a few numbers and hope for the best, but last week, it was different.
I was ready. I had a printed itinerary of where to go and what to do once my bag arrived in the baggage claim area. Those instructions included: “Go to the courtesy hotel shuttle area located outside of the terminal, wait for the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Shuttle, take the short 5-minute jaunt down Century Ave. to the hotel, and then, just do whatever might be necessary to relax after a 5-plus hour flight from there.” “Simple enough,” I thought to myself as I exited the baggage area and located the Courtesy Hotel Shuttle Area. I rolled my baggage across the street and through the bustling traffic, positioning myself curbside at the allocated area in which I was instructed to wait.
In the distance, quickly approaching, I spy the shuttle marked ‘Sheraton Gateway Hotel.’ It had been maybe 2 minutes since I had arrived in the area, and just as I thought to myself, “Well, that was easy,” the shuttle quickly made it’s way past the courtesy hotel shuttle area without a hint of braking. It didn’t seem to be overrun with passengers, which I would’ve understood. Instead, it made it’s way anonymously past me at the allocated area and away from the airport. I wasn’t crushed, but I also wasn’t happy. The surrounding traffic and hubris allowed me to mutter a “What the fuck!” without appearing to be outwardly pissed off, and from there on, I assumed it was simply a matter of waiting for the next shuttle. I began to rationalize the first shuttle’s non-stoppage in my head: “It might’ve been lunchtime.” “Maybe the van wasn’t running well.” “Was I standing in the wrong area?”
My final reason appeared the most logical, so I used my cell phone to call the hotel’s front desk, which was also on my neatly printed itinerary. They assured me that I was in fact standing in the right place, and that I should simply make myself more noticed if another shuttle appeared to be casually driving by without any indications of stopping. I asked what the waiting time between shuttles usually was, and was told that it would be no more than 10 minutes. “Fine,” I thought to myself, “Nothing major, just a slight understanding.”
The next few minutes are a blur in my memory and life. Yeah, I was standing up with my luggage propped against me, fully cognizant of my surroundings, but I may as well have been passed out drunk. The intensities of travel, the quickly moving automobiles all around me, the surrounding inter-family bickering, the engaging sounds of life in constant movement; it was slowly numbing my insides. ‘Going Postal’ has entered into the English language as standard vernacular, ‘Going Airportal’ doesn’t seem to be far off…
I pulled myself from the mind-numbing experience I was, well, experiencing, and told myself that I had better pay attention to the fast-moving array of taxi cabs, late 80s model Toyotas and hotel shuttle vans making their way past me. And just as I did, I spied the Sheraton Gateway Hotel shuttle in the distance. My borderline bout with airport rage was about to end. But as I gathered my belongings and made my way even closer to the curb, this time vigorously waving my hand at the driver, the shuttle drove by yet again! Yes, it was only a hotel shuttle from the airport, but it was the one time I actually had confirmed plans of what to do once I arrived at the airport, and those plans were falling apart amid a sea of smog, denim miniskirts and traffic. I was at a loss, and now, pretty pissed off. I called the hotel once again, who informed me that shuttles were running late and that it was best for me to simply take a taxi to the hotel. They assured me it would be no more than a $10 trip.
So I maneuvered myself and my baggage through the sea of curbside stragglers also waiting for courtesy hotel shuttles, and located the line for taxi cab rides. I was situated with a taxi upon arrival in the line, and loaded my belongings into the trunk.
When I seated myself into the rear of the cab, I informed the driver that I was an easy fare. “I’m just down the road at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel on Century,” I said.
The driver, a middle aged Mexican American, replied, “Are you serious? There’s hotel shuttles right there. You’re wasting my time!”
To which I replied, “Well, this is what the hotel informed me to do. Is that a problem for you?”
To which he replied, “Yeah it is! This is a waste of my time for a $5 fare!”
At this point, we were already moving, so yeah, he may have said it was technically a waste of time, but he was still accepting me as a paying customer, so I shut up and tried to make the best of what would only amount to a 10-minute cab ride at most. Then he made a wrong turn, and then another wrong turn, to which I interjected.
“Man, we’re going the wrong way,” I said. “Don’t tell me you don’t know where the hotel is!” He was trying to run up the fare so that he’d make more money off of me than what he should’ve. It was a sneaky move, but I had caught him on it.
“Fine, take two dollars off of whatever the fare is then,” he replied.
We arrived at the hotel. The fare was $10, so I gave him a $10 bill and asked for my change. He got the $8 he deserved and I unloaded my belongings from the trunk. Intentionally, I neglected to close the trunk all the way.
As I made my way to the hotel door, he beeped his horn and yelled at me, “Get back here and close the trunk boy!”
I turned around, with my bags in my hands and said the first thing that came to mind. “Fuck you! Close it yourself!”
“Fuck me? No, fuck you!” he replied.
And so I addressed the issue. “No, fuck you!” I replied.
He got out of the car, walked towards the trunk, closed the door and then sped off.
As I turned to walk into the hotel, which ended up being rather upscale, I noticed the bell hops, business men and women and valets all staring at me in disbelief. Our verbal “Fuck You” battle had been heard by all those surrounding me.
I entered the doors of the hotel, made my way to the front desk and checked in. All was in order. Sure, it took me two generous helpings of “Fuck you,” along with a 10-minute lapse in time that my life will never get back, but for now, all was in order.
Next time though, I’ll know better. Skip the itinerary and go straight for the chaos. Don’t wait for it arrive in whatever twisted way it pleases…