Thursday, August 22, 2013

Canceled Flight

The Southwest terminal at LAX

I had a 9:30AM meeting this morning in Sacramento, so I got up at 3AM to catch the 6:15AM flight out of LAX, just 8 miles from our house. Normally, on day trips like this, I drive myself and park at the airport, but Tim insisted on taking me (I think he thinks dropping and picking me up at the airport is romantic). I went through security and was at the gate by 5:20AM. Forty minutes later a voice came over the loud speaker, saying there were maintenance problems with the plane; therefore, our flight was being delayed indefinitely. Fifteen minutes later, exactly when we were supposed to be taking off, the voice returned to say our flight had been canceled altogether.

Passengers had two options: they could use their tickets to board the 9AM flight to Sacramento or take the 8:30AM flight to Oakland (huh?). Since the 9AM flight wouldn’t get me to my meeting till 11AM—well after it had already started—I opted to go home. I called Tim.

“My flight’s been canceled. Can you come and get me?” I asked.

“Oh oh,” he sheepishly replied. “I’m already at work.” He was, after all, wide awake, so why not get an early start on the day? I decided to grab a cab.

But there were no taxis to be had at 6:30 on a Thursday morning. Apparently cabs don’t start lining up until 7Am-ish when flights start arriving. My only hope was to take the #6 Culver City bus that travels down Sepulveda Blvd., two blocks from our house. I headed toward Sepulveda.

Unlike most airports, LAX is located in the heart of a residential/ business area. In fact, the northernmost runway starts at Sepulveda, on which thousands of cars traverse every day. If you’ve ever flown into LAX, you've no doubt thought your plane was going to land on those very cars. We regularly drive this part of Sepulveda to get to our favorite taco joint on the other side of LAX, but I’ve never walked along this stretch. What a thrill when a gigantic Qantas airbus flew right over my head before landing on the north runway!

It’s been several years since I rode the bus and so had no idea how much the fare was. Having spent my last three dollar bills on a croissant at the airport, I decided to walk to the nearest Starbuck’s to break a twenty. Luckily, the bus stopped right there.

Getting on, I asked the bus driver how much the fare was. He looked at me and whispered, “Thirty-five cents.”

“$1.35?” I asked.

“No,” he whispered again. “Just thirty-five cents.”

And that’s when I noticed the sign saying that seniors get to ride for 35 cents. I didn’t complain, even though I certainly don’t consider myself a senior citizen . . . at least, not yet.

The ride took about 25 minutes. I was the only one who looked like she was dressed for a business meeting. Everyone else looked ready to tackle real work. The woman who got off the bus with me complemented my dress. I wanted to explain about LAX, but just thanked her instead. I then walked the two blocks to our house.

When I got home, the answering machine was beeping. It was Southwest letting me know that my flight had been canceled.

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