Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stories from the airport

After spending almost three whole days in LA I can now conclusively state the following:
  • They don't have nearly as many earthquakes as they want us to believe. I didn't feel one the whole time I was there.
  • Downtown LA is the most uninteresting place on earth
  • The Wilshire Grand hotel is a toss-up. The restaurants are really good but the rooms are kinda "shabby-chic" - only without the "chic" part.

Normally, when I travel for work, half the fun is the show itself and half is getting to explore a new or interesting city. Even when I went to Baltimore, I had a tone of fun exploring old ships in the harbor and visiting Poe's grave. But downtown LA is a different animal. It's like the boring old uncle who gets up every morning and goes to work in some sort of office lit by harsh fluorescent lighting where he peruses actuarial tables all day or does data entry. He has pretty much given up on ever being as flashy as his cool neighbors. He's not depressed about it, I mean his life is nowhere near as depressing as Sad Kermit. But he's just given up ever being interesting himself.

The same is true of downtown LA. Honestly, I never left the hotel while I was there. This was partially due to the fact that there wasn't much to do outside of the hotel and partially to the fact I was trying to stay relatively close to central time in light of the fact I had to get up at 3:00 am this morning for my flight back to Chicago. Needless to say, this is time #127 that I wished I could sleep on planes. Weirder still was that while I expected LAX to be dead at 4:00 am, it was actually bustling with activity - seriously, the line for check-in was out the door by the time I arrived.

I presumed that it was just because of a lot of early-morning flights, but no, it turns out that American had yet to turn on the self-service check-in kiosks. Apparently, even though they scheduled the flights to leave at 6:00 am, the sudden arrival of 300+ people toting luggage and expecting boarding passes took them *completely* by surprise. And, of course, none of the people in line in front of me knew how to operate one*. Not to mention that once I was done there, I then had to walk all the way to the far side of the check-in area to drop off my checked luggage, and then turn around and walk all the way to the *other* side of the building to go through security. And the GF wonders why I always want to get to the airport more than two hours before departure time.

Of course, by the time I got to the gate, it was boarding about half-full of high schoolers on their way to Chicago for a choir competition. Mercifully, they were all remarkably well-behaved and seated well to the rear of the aircraft, where (I assume) they sat quietly and practiced their scales or read Joyce because they were forced to turn off their cell phones and had no other way of communicating with each other.

It's good to be home.

* Including one guy who kept trying to swipe his drivers license, and an older couple who stood in front of the terminal, apparently afraid to touch it for fear it would eat them.

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