This story is a dangerous trifecta of boring things: waiting in line, parking a car, and a missing third item needed to complete a trifecta.
We’re fairly new to Los Angeles, so we do everything wrong. I might send an email that doesn’t contain an exclamation point (!), or ask how to say ayurvedic, or eat meat in mixed company. Chris might tip a Getty Museum docent, or query the meaning of “ice blended,” or wear socks. It’s not that we’re embarrassed so much as other people are embarrassed FOR us, which is somehow worse. We’re like transfer students mispronouncing building names and smile-mumbling the school song.
For Memorial Day, we booked a trip out of town. Waaaaay out of town. Like, so far that we would have to fly there, you know, using the airport. How do Angelenos get to the airport? Do they cab? Shuttle? Uber? Ask one of their hilarious and good-looking “very close” friends to drive them? We didn’t know.
What we did know was that for a holiday weekend, you plan hard. You anticipate a real life obstacle course, assuming mishaps, delays, rubes. You build pillow-fort-sized cushions of time on your itinerary. Missing a flight on a holiday weekend is something you do exactly once in your life, like meth. Just kidding. Like smack. Omg just kidding! Like getting a perm. #NeverForget.
We planned hard. We would leave 3-hours early, drive ourselves, and park at The Parking Spot. The Parking Spot is an LAX institution you’ll know by their rad, cheetah-patterned shuttle buses. Their structure is one block from the airport on a strip we call “Welcome to LA Street” because it has an In-And-Out Burger where all self-loving people stop on their way into town. It’s also so close to the airport that a bunch of movies have shot airport scenes from its roof. It was exactly what we were looking for in a parking garage – panache and proximity.
Friday of Memorial Day weekend was super trafficky on the way to the airport. Ahem, just like we knew it would be. Cool as two English cucumbers, we queued in an extra long line to get into the garage. We gave each other smug, congratulatory glances for anticipating just this type of thing.
But we worryingly advanced a car length only once every five minutes. Twenty minutes in, Chris shut off the radio, so we could concentrate more fully on our growing unhappiness. We stewed in thick, fearful silence. The same scared silence that follows a cheating boyfriend accidentally asking, Is this your hair tie? and then waiting fateful beats for an answer.
We have different ways of dealing with stress. Chris’ auto response is fatalist, whereas mine is escapist.
- He broke the roaring silence, “I’m sure the garage is full.” A whiff of bad news means imminent disaster. As they say, where there’s smoke, there’s the apocalypse. He’s got hereditary British PTSD from that time the young colonies were mad about teas and taxes, so they declared war and tried to kill everyone. “It’s got to be full, we need a Plan B.”
- I have get the F out of here, I thought. “Pop the trunk,” I crocked, “I need to get the luggage to the terminal before they cut off check in.” In 75 minutes. “I’ll walk the rest of the way and find the cheetah buses.”
But then! The line advanced around the corner and we could see the final stretch. We were in the drive-thru line for In-and-Out Burger. If you’ve ever had an animal-style burger, you’ll know that’s both a happy and sad end to the story.