The day I didn't go to Los Angeles...
Phoenix Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
Living in Phoenix as I do, you would think that a day I was NOT in Los Angeles would not necessarily stick out in my mind; there are many, many days that I don't go to LA. So why, out of all the days in the world that I didn't go to LA will this one stick out in my mind?
Because I really, really thought I would be in LA when I closed my eyes...
The day started as days typically do; me rushing to work just slightly late. I needed something at the Pharmacy, but I had no time to pick it up; I realized to my mild concern that instead of going to the airport straight from work, and just getting there really, really, early, I'll instead need to leave work, rush all the way back to my end of town, pick up the medicine from the Pharmacy, and then rush back to the other side of town to the airport. "No Problem", I thought... "I'll still be in good time..."
At the stroke of 6:00 pm, I rushed out of work, back to my side of town, and went to the pharmacy; only to find out that there had been an error on their part, and my prescription had not yet been re-filled. Sadly, it's not something I can go without- so I began to wait, while trying to let them know in the most un-annoying way possible, that I feared I would miss my flight, and anything they could do to speed up the process (since I had called in the order 2 days prior) would be greatly appreciated...
By the time I left I was REALLY late; speeding to the airport as quickly as I possibly could; but still, I'd never missed a flight in my life, and couldn't imagine that my record would be broken tonight. I arrived at the airport, disappointed to see that Southwest Airlines was out of Terminal 4, the largest and most frustrating terminal we have here in Phoenix. I sped all the way there, and headed for the parking structure.
The parking structure is built in such a way that does the EXTREMELY tight circle turns, to go from one level to the next. The electronic sign posted alerted me that there were no parking spots available until level 8, so up and around I went, over, and over, and over again. FINALLY I reached level 8, parked the car, dragged the bags out of the car, and rushed to the elevator, hitting the circle for floor 2, where you check in for flights.
The elevator stopped at every floor whether there were people there or not; it was my own private cosmic joke. I was down to floor 4, only 2 more floors to go, when a thought, very uninvited, began to form in my head. I didn't want it there, and tried to banish it back to wherever it was it came from; but once it was there, it would only get louder, and here is what you said:
"Amanda... the tickets you bought for your FRIENDS were on Southwest; YOU are flying on United."
United is out of Terminal 2. Two terminals away.
The elevator doors opened again, as the elevator paused again for no reason on floor 3.
I felt sick and mortified... How could I have done this? And was I sure? WAS I on United? Yes, I decided. Sadly, I was. I waited for the elevator to hit 2, the few people in the elevator to exit, and hit the button for floor 8 again so I could return from whence I came. I rushed back to the car, re-loaded the luggage, and drove back down the 8 floors worth of tight circle turns down to the cashier, waiting to take my money for the parking I never really took advantage of.
I arrived over at Terminal 2, parked on the second floor, again pulled all the luggage out and rushed to the stairwell, carrying the bags down the flights of stairs. Arriving at the ticket counter, I was not greeted as I hoped; they immediately shared with me that they have a strict rule; you must be there 45 minutes prior to the flight or you can't get on - and my flight was leaving in 40 minutes. I was 5 minutes late.
I left the airport yet again, still carrying the bags. I sat down on a bench for a moment, just wanting to savor the first moment of not having to rush in the last 3 hours. I lit a cigarette, and reached into my purse to see what time it was; and found that my cell phone was gone. Where? No idea. And I wasn't ready to deal with it yet. Instead, I asked the girl sitting next to me what time it was, and she told me. We introduced ourselves to each other, her name was Whitney, she was 18 years old.
I then asked her if she was waiting to be picked up from a flight. She replied that she was actually waiting to pick up her birth father, whom she had never met before. She shared that she had only met her birth mother 3 months prior, who had then located her father on Myspace of all places; I thought how funny, that many people of all age ranges are using Myspace now. She was scared, and going out of her head; she didn't know what to do and she didn't want to be alone. I told her I would wait with her until he arrived, and she was grateful.
We waited about 20 minutes or so, making small talk the best we could to keep her mind busy, and then a man walked up, and at first I thought she had been putting me on - this couldn't be her father, he looked younger than I am; but then I quickly started doing the math in my head... a lot of adoptions are done due to people giving birth young, and if she was 18, and he was (for instance) 16 when she was born, that would in fact only make him 34; younger than me. So strange...
I watched for a moment from a distance as they greeted each other, hugging awkwardly, for the first time in either of their lives. She had shared with me that he lived in Pennsylvania now, and had no other children. He would be in town for over a week; she would show him the Grand Canyon. She called him by his first name, he nervously told her she was pretty. He jokingly questioned her choice of all black for the occasion, she seriously responded, explaining she had come from working.
It wasn't the words themselves that was so moving... it was just seeing that moment, far more than the sum of it's parts. A moment I never thought I'd be a party to. I quietly went to leave, she called my name; I turned around, she ran over to hug me goodbye, and then returned to her father.
I didn't get to Los Angeles tonight; I'm going standby tomorrow morning, on the 6:30 am flight - I actually have to wake up again in 4 hours, so going to bed would most likely would not be a bad idea. But I had to get this down first.
Some nights don't turn out the way you plan, but sometimes, maybe, there is a reason. A reason the pharmacy looses your order, a reason you space what airline you're on and go to the wrong terminal, a reason you miss the deadline by 5 minutes and the airline tells you no, and a reason your cell phone is misplaced, and you have to ask a stranger for the time, thus opening up the opportunity for them to share with you that they need you to stick around, need the company of a stranger, if only for a half an hour.
Tomorrow is soon enough to reach Los Angeles.