Back in Los Angeles. Just barely. I think. You know things are going to be tough when you touch ground, and the pilot says describes the situation and says, "Folks, this is something I've never seen before..."
Basically, it seems that computers were out at the airport, so the American flight couldn't go to a gate. Whether it was just American or not, I don't know. But we waited quite a while on the ground, and then finally taxied instead to some outlying area -- really outlying. We taxied so long that I think we ended up near Redlands. Seriously, we taxied for about 10 minutes and it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere. Then we had to wait for a bus to take us all back. When the pilot explained with his first word being "Unfortunately...", you know that that wouldn't be good either. "Unfortunately, a few international flights came in before us, so they'll get the first buses, and then they'll come back for us." And then he added, "Folks, this is something I've never seen before..." People could either stay on the plane and sit, and wait in a concrete building that was pretty much what it sounds like. About eight chairs and lots of concrete. I opted for getting out. Fortunately, the wait wasn't long, and then a bus ride allllll the way back. With the pilot and flight crew joining us. Y'know, that whole "Folks, this is something I've never seen before..." thing.
That would have been problematic enough. But then there was the luggage scenario. And it should have been fine because I only had a carry-on and personal item. To be fair, my carry-on was on the edge of acceptable size, but to be equally fair, on my flight out to Chicago it did squeeze into that "measuring" device they have. So, it certainly should have been just fine for the flight back. But the woman at the gate didn't like the look of it, and didn't let me take anything out for an easier squeeze, so it had to be be checked through. Little did I know at the time we'd be facing the "Folks, this is something I've never seen before..." gambit.
So, I had to go the baggage terminals (whose conveyers are horribly marked for which flight the luggage is coming from, confusing most people there) -- and wait for them to shuttle the bags all the way back from the netherworld. And then hope I'd recognize my bag, since I hadn't put any special marking on it because I wasn't expecting to be checked.
Anyway, enough of all that. The end of the tale is that I finally left the airport an hour-and-a-half after landing. That's life, it happens. But the person I was most sorry for was my friend Mike who was coming to pick me up. He'd already left for the airport because the airline information said we were landing on time. Which we did. It was everything else that was "Folks, this is something I've never seen before..."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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