The Kindness of Strangers
I had to go down to the airport which is about forty miles away, not because I was going anywhere or picking anybody up, but to take care of some business.
We have horrible public transportation here in Southern California but I heard there was a new free airport shuttle, so I thought I’d be an adventurer and try it out. It would save gas and save the hassle of finding a place to park.
The first step would be to take the Coaster from Carlsbad to another station where the airport shuttle would be. The problem with that is so few times on the Coaster schedule meant the entire process would take approximately six hours or more.
I decided to drive down to the Sorrento Valley train station. After I drove around for about ten minutes until I located the parking lot, I called the shuttle and asked where it stopped. I was informed that I was at the wrong station (my bad) and would either have to wait forever for the Coaster, or drive down to the Old Town station, which I did.
Upon arriving at the Old Town station, I couldn’t figure out WHERE THE EFFING parking lot was. There were no signs, no arrows, nothing that directed me to anywhere to park my car to take the free airport shuttle.
Since I was now ALMOST at the effing airport, actually only two exits away on the freeway, I got back on the road, drove to the airport, and found a place to park my car. They’ve totally torn apart Terminal One so it was a good thing I needed to be at Terminal Two or I would have ended up turning back around and heading home without accomplishing my mission.
In the parking lot, I asked a gentleman how to get to the terminal because THERE WERE NO SIGNS. He started to point in a direction, thought better of it, and kindly walked me to an unmarked spot where I could cross the street and head up a flight of UNMARKED stairs to a skybridge that eventually connected with the terminal.
It wasn’t a very busy day and there weren’t too many people, which was great because I tend to get disoriented in crowds.
After all that driving I had to use the restroom and while I was washing my hands, a nice airport employee told me I looked like I needed some help and I started laughing because I didn’t know anyone could see into my mind. I told her where I was going and she said I was in the wrong place and if I walked about ten miles and up another flight of stairs, I might locate my destination. I followed her directions and ended up walking from one end of the terminal to the next with no luck.
I was close to admitting defeat and trying to find my way back to my car when I spotted an information booth. When I asked the VERY KIND LADY how to get to where I was going, she said she’d take me so I didn’t get lost again and escorted me in an entirely different direction UP another flight of steps until we arrived at the Clear kiosk, where she handed me over to another patient and delightful person who helped me finish the eye scan and fingerprint process so that all my future travels would be expedited.
Whew! I was certainly relieved to be done with THAT, but now I had to figure out how to get back to my car. I accepted the very real possibility that I’d be wandering around the airport all day. I was all twisted around and didn’t know what level of the terminal I was on or what door I needed to exit.
I remembered that I saw a sign for the USO near where I parked so I located yet another airport employee and asked for directions to the USO where I hoped I’d find something familiar. When he showed me the proper crosswalk, all the pieces fell into place. I retraced my steps back where I had spoken to the original helpful stranger, and lo and behold, there was my car!
After driving around and around in the parking lot because I couldn’t find the POORLY marked exit, I paid $6 for the privilege of feeling incredibly dumb in my attempts to navigate the big city.
Like Blanche DuBois, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Everyone was lovely and courteous. Thank you all, and I’m even happier and more grateful to be home.
Now I need to plan some travels to make this travesty of a day worthwhile.
What I learned is that public transportation here is even more horrible than I remembered and there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially with signage.
Originally published at http://enchantedseashells.com on July 7, 2022.