Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2003 / 12 / 30 / nightmare-on-century-blvd

December 30, 2003

Nightmare on Century Blvd.

Perhaps nightmare is not the correct word. A nightmare implies a dream. Something invented by your subconscious. Something that didn't really happen. Maybe I should use the phrase waking nightmare. Or maybe one of the worst experiences of my life.

First things first. The title seems to make a reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but in fact, if you think about it (and I did), it can also easily be interpolated to be a reference to Miracle on 34th Street. Of course doing so would be a mistake, because my experience could only be considered a miracle by the devil in hell. The Century Blvd. reference might not be clear to everyone either, but for those of you not from Los Angeles, that's the street that LAX is located on. Finally, the reference itself is misleading considering that my waking nightmare which ended at 2 a.m. this morning on Century Blvd. in Los Angeles, began over eighteen hours ago in Cancún, México.

The journey home began routinely. A taxi ride in the humid, balmy heat of Cancún at 10 a.m., local time. A quick check-in and even quicker lunch. An unremarkable two hour flight to Mexico City airport. As we landed, I thought about how amazing it was that nothing infuriating had occurred yet. My first mistake. Never tempt Fate. Things instantly became shitty.

After walking about twenty minutes across the airport to the international terminal, we were informed that we wouldn't be told where the gate was until 6 p.m. It was 4:55 p.m. Great! An hour to kill before we are even told where to go! I spent it reading a book, fidgeting without restraint, and checking my watch every few seconds. I was antsy. I was hot, sweaty, dirty, tired, and all I really wanted to do was go home and shower. Unfortunately, things began to get worse around six.

An announcement was made at 6:01 p.m., letting passengers know that the gate for the Aeromexico flight to Los Angeles had been determined. We quickly headed there, assuming boarding would begin within a few minutes. Upon our arrival at the gate, I noticed a roped off area, with white tables and about 20 security personnel carrying weapons, armed with metal detecting wands and latex gloves. Yes, I know—kinky. The gate itself was in an awkward place, and the roped off area had been placed without regard to the fact that it was an international flight with over two hundred passengers. As more people arrived, the central walkway of the airport began to fill up. 6:20 p.m. rolled around, and people were getting apprehensive. The flight was scheduled to leave at 6:55 p.m., and yet no boarding announcement had been made. The airline employees milled about, idiotically joking around with each other and the security folks, under no pretense of work. Two distinctive Americans arrived on the scene, crawled under the rope and also began chatting. Suddenly, one of the airline employees bust out an antiquated, completely broken, emergency PA system and squawked something unintelligible, first in Spanish and then in English. From the disgruntled groan that swept the crowd, it was apparent that this was an announcement of a delay to the flight.

Around 7 p.m., five minutes after our supposed departure time, the announcement came that they were waiting to confirm the names of all passengers with US security and we would begin boarding in 45 minutes. Another disappointed groan rippled through the crowd, as everyone realized that there was NO place to sit, it was hot, and a large contingent of construction workers had just arrived to make our lives a living hell by using a jack hammer on the concrete foundation across the way. Awesome! Forty-five minutes of heat, noise, and standing. They had the passenger manifest DAYS in advance. What were they doing until now to confirm the names? Oh wait, I know. Sitting in a roped off area at Gate 22, jacking off, with latex gloves and metal detecting wands.

7:45 rolled around and then 8:00 p.m. Everyone was standing, looking at the counter and waiting for an announcement. Nothing came. The idiotic airline folks would group huddle together ever few minutes, have a circle jerk, and then break the huddle, only to form it again with the security folks. Every once in a while the Americans would talk to armed police/army folks and they would circle the small, densely packed area of irate passengers. Looking around, I noticed one especially angry guy, who looked like he was going to steal a gun and raise a rampage, but thankfully, he didn't. Otherwise, we would have had to deal with mass chaos, bloodshed, and I would have to wait even longer for my shower!

Around 8:45 p.m., they called up two passengers, interrogated them mercilessly, rummaged through their belongings, made the woman cry, and then almost ripped open a stuffed animal the man was carrying. After that, content in their assessment of the passengers, they announced that we would begin boarding, one row at a time. Everyone in the area rushed the roped area, without regard for the instructions, probably because they were idiots, using a shitty PA system that didn't work, and taunting us with a sign that said a tiempo. HELL NO! I can deal with the harassment, and the delay, and the bullshit, and the guys jacking off in public/feeling me up for guns/nail clippers/wires, and going through my suitcase of dirty clothes, but DON'T TAUNT ME WITH THE ON TIME sign, dammit! We are TWO HOURS late! TWO HOURS! I won't be back to LA until after 1 a.m. as it is! Take down that insult and put up sign that says, tarde or idiotically delayed or somos estupidos. After a bit of a push and shove match where I'm pretty sure I knocked over an old lady and stepped on the toes of a small child, I got in the plane, found my seat, and got ready to go. It was 9:21 p.m. We wouldn't take off until 10:03 p.m.

So we sat there, listening to smooth jazz with a Spanish flair that made me look for something to stab myself with (but I couldn't because even the nail clippers had been taken out of carry-on luggage) and waiting while the pilot seemed to taunt us by pressing down on the gas pedal and then letting go, so we would inch forward and then rock back. This went on for more than thirty minutes. I was in red in the face from anger. I clinched my fist so hard that my nails began to cut into my skin and my hand began to bleed. I felt like hitting myself in the head over and over again. I was losing control of my anger. If it had been a cartoon, steam would have come out of my ears and my scalp would have exploded. I was so consumed by anger that I could feel a pressure in my abdominal cavity. I wondered errantly if my spleen was going to burst, then wondered does that really happen, then tried to recall what in the hell a spleen is. My biology failed me once again. I kept confusing it with the gall bladder. Oh shit, I thought! What if it bursts and my insides fill with bile. Shit, that's not what the spleen does! Then I got mad because I couldn't remember what the spleen is. Finally, after biting my hand for about a minute, the pilot then said something unintelligible in Spanish and then in English and we began to take off. Except we didn't. We rocked back as soon as I felt the throttle and waited another ten minutes. I was in hysterics and pain when we finally took off.

On landing in LAX, we were redirected to "Remote Area 212." WHAT THE HELL? Remote Area 212? I've flown out of LAX like a million times, and NEVER EVER have I encountered Remote Area 212. I still don't really know what that is. But we were getting off there. As soon as we stopped, and it took the usual ten minutes to set up the tunnel (inexplicable because it seems like it should take a few seconds), and I got out of the plane, I was attacked by a customs dog, who first licked my pants and slobbered all over me, then realized I wasn't bringing in crack and left me alone, but not before my right pant leg was WET with dog saliva. Awesome. It's 11:30 p.m. PST, I've been awake for almost a day, and my pant is soaked with dog saliva. Things couldn't get worse. But they did.

After an unending wait in the immigration line, where it said US Passports Only and idiots without visas kept trying to pass through, an atrocious interrogation in Customs, and a seemingly endless walk to the bus stop to go to our parking garage, we boarded the bus—the wrong one. We boarded a green bus that said Park One. We were supposed to board a green bus that said Park Express. No one realized this until we reached the parking lot and realized we parked in a parking garage. Awesome. 1 a.m. Back at the airport, waiting in the blistering cold. Waiting for a bus that wasn't showing up. Fighting with a discharged cell phone to call the parking garage. Twenty minutes later. Bus shows up. Thirty minutes later. Waiting, boxed in between four cars, for the attendant, unable to find car keys, to move the car behind us. One hour later. Home. Too tired to shower. Want to write a rant. Can't. Website's down. So pissed. So so pissed! Guess when it rains, it pours. What the hell does that mean? Really. Clichés are so lame.


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