Sunday, March 7, 2010

Laid Off - Let's go on a cruise

She came rushing out of Terminal 1 with a frantic look painted on her face. Passing hoards of solicitors, groups of lolly gaggers, and other new arrivals dazed and confused by the bright winter sun, she ran up to my cab saying, "I'm late for my cruise! Can you get me to Long Beach in time?"

Those were her first (shouted) words to me.

"I'll do the best I can, but I can't make any guarantees."

"I've got to be there by 4 o'clock or my Mom's going on the cruise all alone!"

It's 3:30 Sunday afternoon. LAX to the cruise terminals located at Long Beach should take 20 to 25 minutes.

"You should make it," I said trying to reassure her.

Not wanting to take any chances, I started (an ap on my iPhone) at the first red light. SigAlert displays near "real time" traffic information for the freeway system through out Southern California.

It took a moment or two before my iPhone displayed the best route between LAX and the cruise terminal. It highlighted an accident on the 405 South at Crenshaw Blvd.

"My fiancé is checking traffic on the computer at home and he says there is an accident on the 405!"

"Yes," I replied. "I'll try to go around the slowing by taking the 105 to the 110 to the 405."

"He says to take the 105 East to the 110 South then get back on the 405 South. That should take you around the ....."

"Hey, wait a minute!" she said into her phone. Realizing I had just said the same thing, she told her fiancé the driver already knows the route. "He has it on GPS."

"I'll call you from the docks or after I board," adding, "if I make it on time."

For the first time since sitting in the cab I heard her take a deep breath and sigh.

"Relax, you really should make it okay. In fact, you probably won't even be the last one to board."

"I just hate to cut things so close. My original plane was delayed by 3 hours so we crossed the Bay Bridge and I flew out of Oakland. It's been one thing after another. This cruise was supposed to be restful and fun: Yeah right!"

She went on to explain that she had just been laid off. "A victim of one small bank gobbling up an even smaller bank with the merger resulting in too many people and not enough work."

Her fiancé and mother both felt using a small chunk of her severance package on a cruise was great idea. They reasoned the next chance to take any significant vacation would be "a year or more." Anything less would be bad form.

Mother told her, "Rest and relax before starting on the daunting task of finding your next job."

After letting out a long, slow breath she said, "This trip has been anything but perfect until now." The remainder of the trip was smooth. The freeways moving at maximum speed and our conversation took on a relaxed tone.

I'm not sure but I think she settled a bit deeper into the backseat and rested her eyes the rest of the way.

As I made my final turn towards the cruise terminal, I pointed at the Queen Mary and her ship, the Carnival Splendor. "What a contrast between old and new," I said.

The Queen Mary circa 1933, the Carnival Splendor launched in 2008.

We pulled forward to the passenger drop off area at 3:57PM and wouldn't you know it, she wasn't the last person to board.

Bon Voyage and happy job hunting!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent writing! It's so nice to finally have L.A. represented in the taxi blog world again. We had the longest drought.