Friday, October 30, 2009

London 16C: Day 13 & 14 - Drinks & Airplanes (heading home)

So the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM, I shower and shave and zip up my suitcases and do a final room check (still not spotting that USB drive) and carry my luggage down the stairs (no lift) to the lobby and check out, and go stand in front of the hotel... at about 6:15. Damn - a prompt man is a lonely man!

The taxi arrives on time at 6:30 - actually a shuttle van - and the driver (a woman) tosses my suitcases in back, and we go to pick up the filmmakers. Except, it’s on the other side of London. We get to their hotel, and no one is standing out from, no one is in the lobby... no one seems ready to go to the airport. The driver calls dispatch to make sure she has the right address - she does - and makes sure she has the name correct. It’s two Japanese people - last name, Japanese, is not easy for the driver to pronounce. The driver sounds like she’s from Russia or Eastern Europe. She goes into the hotel, to the front desk, and asks where these people are. I am sitting in the shuttle van this whole time. Driver comes back - tells me the desk called up to the Japanese women’s room and they were getting ready to come down. We wait. We wait some more. We wait even longer. The driver is thinking about just leaving - I have a plane to catch. That’s when the two Japanese women with a whole cargo hold of luggage come out of the elevator. The bellman is pushing the overloaded cart, and he does not look happy. When he gets to the shuttle, he tells the Japanese women that he can’t unload the cart because he has a bad back. I’m thinking this guy’s a dick... but the Japanese women do nothing - they don’t even tough their small bags. The driver starts grabbing bags and putting them in the shuttle van. There are huge *boxes*, there are massive trunks that seem really heavy. She stacks them all in the van. The bellman gets no tip for loading up the cart. The two Japanese women get in the van, the driver races to the airport... and the women are putting on make up... then they crank the heater up to Hell and take a nap, while I’m sweating like crazy and nowhere near the heater controls.

Guess what? Their flight left before mine. So they were *really* not ready.

The driver gets them to their terminal, and unloads all of their stuff, including the heavy trunks... and the women want to know how their trunks and luggage will get from the curb to inside the airport. The driver points to some carts (free to use at Heathrow) and I think gets stiffed on a tip, then gets back in the van and takes me to my terminal. I tip her, give her a little extra to make up for the women, then drag my luggage into the airport where it costs more per bag to get them home than it did to bring them here.

In the waiting area for my flight, there’s a cute women near my age who is reading the Samuel French edition of THE CHILDREN’S HOUR. I want to strike up a conversation with her - I played Joe Cardin (male lead) in a community theater production while in high school - and it’s written by Hellman, who was Dash Hammett’s girlfriend. I could probably talk for hours about the play... but I say nothing. I’m tired and maybe still drunk and am afraid I’ll say something stupid. I’m never gonna find a girlfriend this way!

Several hours of absolute torture later - I am too tall for airplane seats - we land in New York where I have to go through customs, then recheck my luggage... then take this crazy shuttle bus to another terminal to catch the plane to LA - the bus driving too close to a runway where planes are landing for my taste. Kill time, they board the plane... and I find that I have the absolute worst seat on the plane - 22A - a window seat where there is no window. In fact there’s something in the wall, there, and instead on the indent between “ribs” it’s flat - meaning less headroom and less shoulder room. Probably not a problem unless you’re 6'4" tall - the most cramped seat I’ve ever been in - and my knees were mashed against the seat in front of me. Seriously - airlines need to tell you the maximum height for their seats, and have emergency exit and bulkhead seating prioritized for people who are too tall for their seats. Someone knows the maximum height number - let’s get that in print somewhere.

They close the plane door, and I realize I only have to be in this cramped position from New York to Los Angeles... when the plane loses all power. Something is wrong, and we haven’t even left the gate. Pilot comes on, says it’s a minor mechanical problem and a mechanic is on his way to fix it, so we’ll all just stay on the plane. Great - I don’t have a window and if the person in front of me leans back in their seat my kneecaps will snap off. It takes forever fo the mechanic to fix whatever is wrong. And we’re still on the plane, at the gate. Eventually it’s fixed. The plane takes off, and by they time we make it to Los Angeles and I take my shuttle home (I bought a round trip and had to make sure I knew where the receipt was the whole time I was in London and make sure I didn’t accidentally throw it away along with the receipt for those socks and British underpants) - and it’s *pouring rain* in Los Angeles - worse weather than in London - tip the driver and drag my luggage into my apartment, I have been traveling for almost 24 hours! Okay, sitting on an unmoving plane isn’t exactly “traveling”, but that took up a chunk of time. My refrigerator is empty. I walk to the store, buy some food, eat a frozen dinner, and go to sleep.

I have no idea how long I will sleep, but I’m hopping a plane to Hong Kong in 6 days, and Screenwriter’s Expo is in there somewhere. Of course, those are other adventures.

- Bill
eXTReMe Tracker