It’s been a busy week! Evening meetings and hard training; and I am still getting caught up from that long week-end in Houston. It’s Friday evening, and time to re-LAX!!! Oh, Los Angeles. I’ve never had a whole lot of interest in going, but here I am on a flight to LA, on the way to Santa Barbara for the debut of “my” first movie: Fair Chase.
Turbulence normally is reserved for unpleasant flights, but our turbulence started in the Park ‘n’ Fly shuttle. The shocks were shot, and every pothole, speed-bump, and crack in the road sent us flying – even before our flight. (At one point, Mindy’s heeled shoe landed on top of my toes…) Thankfully, that was the end of the turbulence on the way down. The actual flight – that is, the one in an airplane – was smooth and uneventful. Somewhat painfully uneventful, given that American Airlines does not have seat-back entertainment systems. Being tired was a very good thing, as both Mindy and I were able to doze on and off through the flight down to LAX.
The LA airport was busy! As we heard from our friendly shuttle driver, flights to LA are cheaper than flights to Arizona, so hordes of Super Bowl fans were streaming into LA and driving the rest of the way. We felt the brunt of this when we got to Budget Rent-a-Car. Over an hour in line!! While Mindy held our spot in line, I was at least able to walk over to the hotel, check-in, drop our bags, etc.. Unfortunately, this hour delay also gave us plenty of time to hear from other customers who had been waiting an hour for their cars after they went through the line!! (Given that part of my career has been on process development and improvement, I was particularly frustrated that the front-end car rental processes at Budget seem to take an inordinate amount of time.)
We finally got to the counter where we were greeted by a remarkably upbeat associate named George. I don’t know if he was putting on a positive front, if he is genuinely happy even when under attack from angry and frustrated customers, or if he just doesn’t care that people are waiting. Whatever it was, I did appreciate the positivity. He told us that he could give us a car that moment, provided we took a BMW X1. (For context, we had a Mazda 2 in Houston, and were expecting the same thing here.) I asked about the price was of the X1. George looked, shook his head, and said: “Nah, I can’t do that to you.”
So there we were, facing a wait of 10, 20, 60, 90 minutes? No idea. We pulled the plug on the car, and told George we’d return in the morning, provided he could give us confidence that there would be cars left. “Plenty!” he assured us, so we walked to the hotel, hungry and tired. We had a meal in the lobby bar accompanied by some much-needed drinks, and went to bed. According to Toronto time, it was 4am.
(Side note: By postponing the car booking and not paying for parking overnight, we saved close to $30 US. Given the weak Canadian dollar these days, that’s a perk!)