One of the last trips to LA for my MFA program started off with a middle-aged woman getting help from a gray-haired man at SeaTac with her new iPad, which she probably bought just for her trip that morning. I sat by the window, looking at our plane and the gray sky, with a soft croissant in a paper bag and an Americano that stripped all my sweet taste buds as it scalded my throat. But I had nothing better to do. So of course I refrained from looking at my phone to check the time, I waited till we boarded to listen to music, instead I watch the pair of consumers figure how to connect to the airport’s WiFi. “The guy in the green shirt over there might now,” the older man said. He went to ask as the woman and her far-out pants stared confusedly at her touchscreen. I may have been able to help, but they never asked. Why ask a hipster who leans back in his seat, wearing a fedora of some indiscernible color and purple glasses?
They never figured it out.
And I had to pee when we boarded. And the coffee wore off and I became tired after seeing Mt. Rainer and Mt. Hood as passing roadsigns, frostbitten ice cream mounds that pushed away clouds with their breath. The flight attendant forced me to accept a bag of cinnamon pretzels which I could not eat. I listened to Pink Floyd and wrote a little.
When we landed I tugged and shifted the luggage over my back and shoulders across concrete football fields under the runways of LAX. People stopped in mid-stride, right in front of me, without looking. My duffel bag had momentum of its own, but I was courteous. The taxi driver may not have been so. My hotel was only twenty minutes away and when the attendant gave me a yellow receipt for the trip before I got in the back of the taxi-van I thought I would have no problems.
I waited for the driver to ask me where I was going. Then I told him. He said that that’s no good for him, that he’d been waiting for three hours and my hotel was too close.
“There’s a free bus,” he said, “a bus, it’s free and it’ll take you to your hotel. Or else you pay nineteen minimum.”
I knew there was no shuttle to my hotel; I’d stayed there three times before. His voice and mannerisms showed me that he was irritated, that my receipt for the trip was bullsh.
“So do you want to take the bus or take the taxi?”
“I want to take the taxi, that’s why I’m here in the taxi!” I said. So he drove off in silence. At the hotel, after not turning on his meter, he told me how much–after I asked. His nose and chin were high and he hadn’t shaven in a couple days. I thought that taxi drivers were supposed to drive people in their taxis to where the customers wanted to go?
When I got to the front desk the woman told me that there were no rooms ready. I had booked my room months earlier–double queen beds, mini-fridge, early check-in, and preferably on a higher floor. This trip would be thirty days at the same hotel. I don’t want to do the math. The most important thing was the mini-fridge.
I wouldn’t get the fridge for a couple days after check-in. The room had no remote for the TV. I had two little twin beds and the room was on the third floor, out of twelve or so…
Maybe more to come later.