Friday, April 13, 2007

A few updates, because I just haven't been updating like a good little blogger. I had my yard sale part two before leaving for Los Angeles and it went much, much better. One, I moved a lot of stuff outside and set it up there. Two, I printed out nice color shots of the larger items that I had and made a "catalog" of them for people to look at. Three, I didn't give as much of a shit. The presentation was still nice, but I figured if I moved a fourth of the stuff that I put outside, then I was going to finish happy. I placed another ad and let a few neighborhood notices and my presence on the sidewalk do the rest. It worked. I moved a lot of stuff and got to meet a lot of neighbors that I'd only passed on the street before or never even knew lived nearby. It was an overcast day but warm enough to hold a sale. My mom sat with me, and was a doubter until she saw me doing a brisk business. It came in waves, but come it did. I fucking built it, and they came.

Now, with that over, I'm still left with some of the larger stuff that I'm going to sell on consignment. I've decided to keep my flat screen television because I just can't sell it for what it's worth. Technology changes too rapidly and is getting cheaper by the week to get what it's honestly worth. So, it's mine. So, be warned ye who want to sell electronics that you forked over a pretty penny for. They aren't worth shit anymore. So, keep them and pay the moving costs or donate them and take a tax credit. If you just want it gone, sure sell it. I'll be looking for your ad.

I had a bunch of used art supplies that I gave away to art students who were thrilled to get them. Most were hazardous materials that I couldn't transport and I didn't want them to go to waste. I sold other supplies that I wouldn't be using for cheap. One art student couldn't believe the price I was selling my oil pastels and seemed almost to come to tears. It felt good to do that, to give to people who are going to put things to good use and create beauty from them. The art students also loved my Baryshnikov books. I was pleasantly surprised at that, and they all went. Again, glad to see them go into the hands of those that will appreciate them. And, so nice to deal with people who "get it."

I've recovered from my disappointment with the apartment. Sure, I still hope that I'll get a call that they've had a change of heart and are going to rent it as is. The pictures don't make it look like much, but it was really a great place. Mostly I just want to be done with the searching process. I want an address to tell the movers to send my stuff to; an other end of the journey that I'm about to undertake. Right now, it's open and ambiguous.

Oddly enough, both times I've tried to come home from Los Angeles, the city has tried to keep me there. Though I got out of Baltimore just fine on my sister's pass, that wasn't to be on Thursday at the crack of ass in the morning. First, some idiot about thirty people ahead of me tried to bust through security at LAX and therefore shut it down. I was standing in line among 60 teenagers who were to go to Europe on a class trip when the TSA agents yelled "Bravo!" Everyone hushed, and silence folded over the thousands of voices in the airport. No one knew what had happened so we just craned our necks toward the metal detectors. I was in the zig zag line which had been moving just fine until the twatwaffle decided he was an exception to the rule. After about fifteen minutes, a scurrying of TSA agents and rumors of delayed flights, I sat on the cold marble floor and dialed Delta to see what the hell was going on. Soon, the whole line sat, and this is what it looked like.

Clusterfuck

Yeah. Did I mention that this was so early it was still dark outside? I think I did, but just in case. Finally, after twenty more minutes I got someone on the line at Delta. The woman told me what I already knew, that there was a security breach at LAX. I asked if they'd delayed the flights, and she didn't know. Two surly teenage girls dressed in black, the type who I would have hung out with in high school, asked me what they said, and I relayed the message. They called their moms, passed a school photo of a classmate whom one had a crush on, and mocked the cliquey girls ahead of them in line who were clumped together on the floor. We grumbled our distaste at the situation, and they snickered in pleasant surprise when I used the word fucktard for the offender. I laid on my back on top of my duffel bag, and just as I felt sleep laying a heavy hand across my eyes, the line started moving and hundreds of people erupted in applause. Yours truly included.

Once inside I could tell it was going to be a repeat of last time I flew on a buddy pass from LA. I wasn't going anywhere. Tempers were flaring, flights were overbooked. Gate agents yelled at other non rev travelers who didn't know the deal and had the audacity to ask for help getting on another flight. I say that in jest. If Delta wouldn't continually overbook their flights there would be a lot less unhappy customers. I teased my sister that DELTA means, "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport." I sat and watched the ugliness for a bit and after calling Delta and waiting on hold for twenty minutes only to have a snarky phone agent tell me that the line is for paying customers only, I just wasn't up to it. Usually, the people on the phone will at least look up flight loads for you if you are nice they are nice. I was nice, she was a cunt. To explain this process to people who don't understand what I'm talking about, flying non rev is indeed a paid ticket, but it's cheap, making it non-revenue for the airline. You are last priority for standby and on overbooked days, which seems to be every day for Delta, you are at best considered an annoyance for gate agents. There's an unspoken rule that you lick the boots of the gate agents to get civility which will sometimes get them to look up loads for you. Thing is, you gotta have timing and common sense. And timing means you don't walk up to them when they are in the thrusts of loading the plane trying to get full paying for profit passengers on board. You wait, find a lull once everyone is on and then very gently plead for help. I use my sense of humor, which usually works as well. Especially when it's self deprecating.

On the good side, when it works it's the best. Non rev passengers get to fly for really cheap, and if first class is open, yep, you get it. Food, drinks, everything.

However, after the security crap and the very likely prospect of spending all day and possibly night in LAX trying to get home, I dialed again. This time, to Southwest. Within an hour I was on the first leg of my flight back to Baltimore. It came to around $350, but having a boarding pass was worth every penny. Had I wanted to buy a ticket on Delta the same day, it would have cost $900 and I wouldn't have gotten on a flight. Why? Overbooked. As for using my humor, I was tired and not feeling very funny that day.

On my way in to Los Angeles, I had an odd thing happen. I had exited my flight from Salt Lake City and was on my way to ground transportation through baggage claim. I had my carryon bag slung over my shoulder and was just about outside when I heard someone say, "Excuse me, Miss?"

I turned, and a man was quickly making his way toward me. He was in his thirties, dressed casually with a crew cut that was growing out. I looked at him, and saw that indeed he was talking to me. I stopped and he asked me if I had been on the flight from Atlanta. I hesitated because his question had thrown me for a loop, and I usually do take the flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Also, having just been to Atlanta for my sister's wedding reception I had to think for a second. When my head cleared, I told him I wasn't, and he looked at me. I looked at him back, confused, and wondered if he was a scam artist or something. I had a firm hold on both bags and was very aware of the people around me. That's when he pulled out a hanging badge from under his clothing. "I'm a police officer," he said. "So you weren't on the flight from Atlanta?" "No," I said, still confused, and I think he could see it was genuine. "Okay," he said, "Thank you Ma'am." He stuck his badge back in his shirt and as fast as he had materialized from the crowd, disappeared back into it. I was left bewildered, figuring I matched the description of someone they were looking for. I wondered what my doppleganger had done to warrant undercover cops looking for her at LAX.

Thing is, I had no idea I was being watched and wondered how long they had been tracking me. And, what if I had been on the flight from Atlanta, which I very well could have? What would have happened then? Would I have been taken into some room and searched and questioned? Would I have been asked if I'd witnessed something that happened on the flight from Atlanta? I'll never know.

What's interesting is that the guy was totally invisible until he approached me. Perhaps if I were worried about cops I may have been looking for people who appeared undercover, but it's just an example of the many layers of life that are happening around us at any given time. I was at LAX to catch a shuttle to my hotel. My mind was focused on renting my car the next day and finding apartments, particularly a studio that I'd seen on the Web and had an appointment to see at 10am the next morning. At the same time, the police were conducting an undercover stakeout for someone who had come to their fair city. Had our two worlds had no reason to collide, I would have never known of the much deeper drama that was in action around me.

Things like that just fascinate the hell out of me.

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