September 09, 2004

Back now after a long weekend tearing shit up in (on?) Catalina. Sure, I could blog about the beautiful ferry ride over, or getting smashed on some 32-ounce monstrosity called the Island Hooter, but really, you hadda be there.

What was remarkable was that I had two different transportation disasters on this trip. On September 4, just as my plane touched down on the LAX runway (after an uneventful and relaxing flight on one of United's swanko 767-200 aircraft), we learned that four terminals, including United's, had been shut down because of a security breach and an unrelated incident in which a baggage screener was injured by a flashlight battery that exploded during a hand-search of a passenger's luggage. When the situation was resolved and terminals had reopened, we still weren't allowed to pull up to the arrival gate; LAX's top priority at that point was getting delayed departing flights out ASAP, and in layman's terms, there was nowhere for arrivals to park. We sat on the runway for about an hour, with scant information to go on (and wrong information, as I learned when I called Chris, who was following the developing story with his car radio en route to picking me up). After more endless waiting, the plane taxi'd to a faraway hangar, with the pilot assuring us that a shuttle bus would be along eventually to herd us disgruntled passengers over to the terminal. Cut to: MORE endless waiting, this time for both the airstairs to walk us down to ground level (where we weren't allowed to go until the bus arrived), and the mythical shuttle bus (which finally did arrive, and I finally got to my destination point moments later).

Being anxious and claustrophobic (as well as an impatient New Yorker who hates not knowing what's going on), the situation was agonizing for me. I thought LAX (and more specifically, United) handled things very haphazardly. In one of the world's busiest and most incident-prone airports, couldn't the disaster-preparedness people be a little more... prepared? Couldn't communication between pilots and air-traffic controllers and higher-ups and customer-service drones and passengers be better, more immediate? Instead, there was a sense of "Huh? What do we do now?" -- as if the thought of a problem on Labor Day weekend had never occured to ANYONE working there.

Chris was right; I should have taken JetBlue.

On the return flight, the inevitable fuckup was actually attributable to the plane itself, which couldn't leave LAX because the fuel gauge needed to be recalibrated and they had to track down someone who could do it. Stranded on the runway again, but only for a half-hour now.

Six hours later, I was back in New York. By the way, plane rhymes with rain and train! (But it doesn't rhyme with Brooklyn Bridge, which I had to cross on foot, carrying a heavy duffel bag and a messenger bag and another bag full of LPs from Amoeba, all because I had to be DIFFERENT and take the J/M/Z line home from Queens instead of the A/C/E.) (Fuck!)


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