I’m Stuck at McCarran!
We join our humble narrator (me) seven hours into a fourteen-hour layover at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. He has not slept, although he has eaten – luckily, McCarran offers a Mexican restaurant that serves not-so-bad tacos.
Now, to exit third-person.
Actually, it isn’t a layover as much as it is a fuck-up. I thought I had left the NAB expo with plenty of time to check in and go through security, but as luck – the bad kind – would have it, a nasty traffic accident had caused the closure of the airport exit, in both directions of the freeway, and traffic was just shitty enough to make me late for my flight. Bad luck indeed, but not as bad for me as it was for the poor jokers in that accident, that is certain. Actually, I didn’t see the wreck, but I heard it was a wreck. Whatever it was, though, it was bad enough to close the exits far enough away from the event that it wasn’t even visible.
I have to hand it to the cab driver, though. He gave it his all. He knew his passengers were in a hurry and he did everything short of engaging a secret Hyperdrive to get us to the airport on time. Honking his horn, making illegal lane changes, driving on the shoulder, passing on the right, cutting into turn lanes, making illegal u-turns, rushing yellow lights, you name it – he was gonna fucking get us there, no matter how many motorists he had to piss off and endanger. Yes, he actually did every one of those things, at least once, and to his credit, he actually did get me to the airport on time in the sense that I got there before my plane took off – a half-hour before – but not before they had terminated check-in for my flight.
I couldn’t pronounce his name, but his acts of selfless heroism in the line of traffic warrant the creation of an official Transportation Medal that should be awarded to him and him alone. After its casting, the mold should be destroyed.
And get this: He felt so bad about not being able to get us to the airport in the appropriate amount of time, he didn’t even make us pay him the full fare! As we were nearing McCarran, he put his hand over the meter and told us not to worry about it; just to give him whatever we thought was fair, to compensate for a delay which was entirely not his fault.
I dare you to find another cabbie who would do that.
You may have noticed that I’ve been using words like “we” and “us” and “Hyperdrive” in reference to my taxi cab adventure. That’s because I was lucky enough to split the cab with a few other guys, so it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as it could have been. At least I wasn’t alone.
Hyperdrive? Yes, Hyperdrive. Two of the guys I split the cab with were from Skywalker Sound. They were ahead of me in line to pick up their checked bags, and since they too were in a hurry to get to the airport, we split fare on the cab since we didn’t have time to wait for the convention shuttle bus.
They were really cool dudes. I got a card from one of them, so maybe – just maybe – on my next film project, I’ll have access to some really good sound engineers to polish the final tracks. I made it a point to make sure that Skywalker Sound does indeed work on indies. He offered to give me a tour of the facilities the next time I’m in the Bay Area. You can be damned sure I’ll take him up on that offer should the chance present itself.
I don’t know who the third split-fare guy was, but he was even more relaxed about missing his flight than I was.
At the airport, I began to get my hopes up as I was talking to the curbside check-in dude because he told me I might make my flight if I go inside and “talk to that young lady at the booth.” In front of me in that line was a woman who was pulling crap out of her suitcase in a desperate attempt to drop weight so she wouldn’t have to pay a fifty-dollar overweight luggage fee. Super.
Soon, I spoke with the young lady, and she told me that no, actually, I was SOL, and that there was no way in hell I was going to make my plane (my words, not hers – she was much nicer about it).
I then spoke with a very nice ticket agent who transferred me to the next available flight, which was fourteen hours later. Truth-be-told, there was actually a non-stop flight available on another airline in just a couple hours but, to me, it wasn’t worth the 350.00 airfare plus the forfeiture of the 200.00 I had already spent on the existing ticket, which was non-refundable. Call me cheap if you want to, but I would rather spend a night in an airport and save nearly six hundred bucks. She didn’t even charge me a change fee. Nice lady.
Looking at the bright side, at least I’ve been able to catch up on a crap-load of ancient e-mails that needed returning.