So, the other day while I was in LA, I lost my car downtown and got stranded on a rooftop parking lot for the entire night. Well, almost.
I have parked in this particular lot many times before, and have never had any problems with it. It's close to where I work, easy to see from street level (helps with my abysmal sense of direction), and stays open late. On this particular Monday, the parking attendant took my five bucks when I pulled up, gave me a parking stub, and told me they would be open until 6pm. Standard procedure. I grabbed my stuff and said adios, heading out into the wilds of the Los Angeles Fashion District.
A little before 5:30pm, after I had finished working and also managed to convince myself into buying a big, white watch (my friend said, after I finally made the purchase, that he had never seen anyone get buyer's remorse WHILST buying the item), I started heading back to my car. I easily located my particular rooftop parking structure and took the (unbelievably slow) elevator (that always smells EXACTLY like pee) up to the fourth floor and got out to find the parking attendant. No dice.
I figured he might be down taking a smoke break or something (although I'm not sure why you would have to get off the roof to do such a thing), and that he'd probably be back fairly quickly. Plus, anyone who's ever driven much in LA knows that leaving downtown to go anywhere around 6pm is going to be a long, slow process. So I wasn't in a huge hurry. However, as I waited, I kept seeing other patrons of this car lot walk out of the elevator with car keys in hand, open their cars, and drive off. How were they getting the keys? Where was the magic key guy, handing out keys? I certainly never saw him. Was he in the Pee Elevator? I finally flagged down one of the happily be-keyed drivers to ask him what was up.
Here's a rundown of that conversation:
Me: "Excuse me, sir? Umm, sir? Sorry...I just...umm, I can't find the parking attendant, and I saw you had your keys...where did you get them? Is the guy downstairs?"
Me: "I mean, you know. Your KEYS? Did someone down there give you your keys? THE KEYS, WHERE DID YOU GET THEM?"
Him (shrugging): "ehhhh....I not know?"
Me: "of COURSE you don't speak English, okay, whatever, whatever."
I am, at this point, getting more than a little concerned about my car. I decide that probably the best plan of action is walking frantically around the top of the building, looking everywhere for signs of parking attendant life, and appearing (I'm sure) insane. Finally someone who looks like he MIGHT work for somebody around there walks up, and I nearly jump on him.
Me: "THEKEYS,OMG,WHEREISTHEGUYWITHTHEKEYS, (breath) ICAN'TFINDHIMANDWHEREISHE?"
Me: "YES. The keys to my car? It's right there? And I have to leave? And I have no keys? And the parking lot guy, he isn't up here?" For some reason when I get upset, I end everything with an upward inflection. It's totally involuntary, and I hate it because I KNOW it does nothing but immediately label me as Crazed Emotional Woman. Frustrating.
Him: "Ahhh....yeeees....I think he is left. I think he is left, ehhh...around 5 or 5:30?"
Me: "No. No, that can't be true, because he TOLD me 6pm; it's always 6pm, and it's NOT 6PM."
Him (shrugging): "Huh. I don't know. Maybe you check on third floor?"
Me: "Why? What is on the third floor? What am I looking for? Wait!"
Him (walking away): "Good luck!"
These two conversations very neatly sum up my view on Los Angeles, which is something I get asked about a lot since I'm out there at least half of my life these days. Do I like it? Do I hate it? Is it all superficial and golden bronzed and beautiful on the surface? Underneath is it crime-ridden and totally scary? Sure, I guess it's all of those things, in some measure. But what it really is is apathetic. That's the one and only word I've ever come up with that succinctly and accurately describes Los Angeles, in its entirety. Apathetic. No one cares about you, and they don't even have the heart to make that a mean thing. They just really don't care. If you're doing great, well, that's great for you. Whatever. If you're doing badly, say you're stuck on a rooftop, alone, in downtown LA, with no appreciable escape plan, well, too bad. Best of luck. Whatever. Now of course both of my brothers and several of my good friends live in and around LA, and so OBVIOUSLY the apathy thing is a generalization of the greater population, and not a personal indictment on each and every Los Angelean. So don't get all up in arms about how you live there and you are the OPPOSITE of apathetic and how dare I. I'm sure you're a lovely person, and I do wish you would have been on the roof with me this past Monday. But you weren't! On with the story.
So after the exceptionally helpful advice from the even more helpful man, I ran down to the third floor, and started looking around. Of course there was nothing but closed office doors and...well, that was all. Lots of closed and locked office doors. I ran back up to the fourth floor, thinking how frustrating it would be to miss the freaking parking attendant while I was running a wild goose chase across the third floor (again, SUCH helpful advice!) and to my disappointment, no one was there.
At this point, I seriously started considering my options. Would I call someone? It would take any person I knew out there at least an hour or two to get to me, and what would I do in the meantime? I could call a taxi, but at rush hour, that would possibly cost me more than chartering a helicopter to do a rooftop pickup. Either way, leaving my car up there meant that I would have to A) return downtown the next morning during normal business hours to pick my car up, B) force the unhappy friend/family member to give me a ride back downtown the next morning OR pay the taxi/helicopter the rest of my life savings to do so and C) absolutely miss both my car rental drop-off time (thus ensuring another full day's cost) AND my flight. So. I was unhappy. And really, I kind of started Freaking Out. And when I say Freaking Out, I mean my version of such, which involves a lot less crying and lot more...furiousness? I mean, how DARE the parking attendant just leave? What in the world? Who DOES that? What am I supposed to do? And it STILL wasn't after 6pm!
I stalked around angrily until I had the bright idea to walk down the parking ramp and see if I ran into anyone on my way. Around level two, I saw an empty parking attendant cage, but upon closer inspection saw that a man, wearing an employee shirt, was sitting in a parked van nearby. I walked (with purpose!) up to the van and demanded to know where my keys were. Sure, I realized that he had no idea who I was or what I was talking about, but I am pleased to report that I apparently had SO much purpose in my voice, that the poor man jumped out of his van, walked over to the lockbox, opened it, and handed me a set of keys. The only problem was, they weren't keys to my car. In fact, they were keys to a much, MUCH nicer car, a car parked on level two, which I guess is corporate parking or something. Anyway, after a second of moral relativism (hmm, what could I do with this car?) I informed Parking Lot Man that those were NOT my keys, and that I needed MY keys, immediately. He didn't seem to understand me (again, with the no English), and kept pushing the other keys at me, as if to say "here, crazy! Keys! Take the keys! Leave me be!" But I wasn't having any of it. I dragged Parking Lot Man all the way up to level four, pointed at my car, and said "KEYS. I NEED KEYS TO THAT CAR". And after a series of phone calls, all in rapid Spanish, another parking attendant came back to the lot and gave me my keys. Not to worry though, he hadn't "left" as in "left downtown". He had only "left the premises, to go to the other lot". OH GOOD, BECAUSE THAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE TO ME, THE ONE WITH NO KEYS. Leaving is leaving. And had he not been summoned by Scared Parking Lot Man, he wouldn't have come back until the next morning. Again, with the apathy. Too bad for me! He had to go to the other lot.
So, let's segue. I need book suggestions, stat. I am out of good books and I am in a definite reading mood and yet I have nothing that I know of that I must read. Note: I don't think I am up for something REALLY deep and soul-searching. I mean, kind of deep is okay. Like I could handle some death and depression, but nothing where I feel like I must immediately go to Darfur and what about my carbon footprint and how dare I be such a horrible human. I'm not really ready for that at the moment.
And, if you don't have a great book suggestion (or even if you do), then how about a song suggestion? I have been totally loving all the mixes that have been passed around the ol' Interwebs these days, and stemming from a fun email conversation I had yesterday with Tiff, thought it would be awesome if everyone could just give me one song that they feel I must listen to immediately, right now. Your mantra song of the moment, if you will. I'd absolutely love to listen to the suggestions. And bonus points if you want to tell me WHY it's your mantra right now.
So, there you go. You guys get a long, rambling story about how I almost lost my car in downtown LA, and in return I get awesome book and music suggestions. Sounds about right, doesn't it?