07 May 2012

So... things didn't quite go to plan

Well, seeing as my post yesterday spoke about my grand plan of driving myself to San Francisco, you would be safe to assume that I am in fact now in San Francisco.

You have assumed wrong.

Today was another 'Aaron day'. It began at 9am.

I had no food left in the hostel so I couldn't have breakfast, all good though, will grab some food and eat on the drive. I said my goodbyes to all my new friends, and gave a big goodbye to Jon-Paul and a big hug to Julia, two of my best friends in the hostel, both of whom I met on my very first day of arriving actually.

The car I hired was to be picked up from the hire car place at Los Angeles airport, and I was to be taking a shuttle bus from my hostel straight to the airport, too easy! 10am arrived and with it bought the shuttle bus. I lug my bags out the door, take one last photo of the hostel, and turn my back on what has been a more amazing place and experience than I could have ever dreamed to have had when I first arrived in America.

Despite my sadness of leaving however I was really excited about the drive ahead. Like, smiling-the-whole-way-to-the-airport kind of excited, it was ridiculous. And it was around here that I learned something revealing about myself, a lesson I hope I to carry with me for many years to come.

I learned that I am one of the worst planners in existence... ha!

The exact point where this realization occurred?

Shuttle bus driver: "Aaron, which terminal do you need to be dropped off at?" (He thinks I have a flight to catch, it was the only way to get to the airport from my hostel for only $20).

Despite the fact that I don't actually have a flight to catch (thus not having a terminal to be dropped off at) it was only then that I realized I have no idea where I actually need to go to pick up my hire car, for in my mind I think I envisioned I would magically be dropped off at its front door. Even though the airport is obviously huge. And for airplanes. Come to think of it, I doubt the hire cars are even at the airport... which now made sense.

Me: "Umm... terminal 4?"

Shuttle bus driver: "Okay, we will arrive in 5 minutes"

Phew, that worked well. I get out, and go straight to the information desk to ask where I go for hire cars, my ankle absolutely killing me while I carry my backpack. Turns out the hire cars are no where near the airport... but luckily they provide a free shuttle bus to take people there, win!

Shortly after I arrive at the hire place, line up, and watch President Obama address the nation on TV live. Finally I reach the desk, so close!

Counter dude: "Hi, okay we will just need your passport and credit card and you'll be off"

I was so pumped! And starving. First stop would be McDonalds. Things took a turn from here.

Counter dude: "Oh, sir. This card you gave me is a debit card, I need a credit card"

Me: "Umm... I don't have a credit card"

Counter grinch: "Oh... well I am sorry sir but I cannot process this transaction unless you can provide a credit card"

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me...

We argue. I try to strike some kind of deal. No go. The manager is requested, we talk. Not getting anywhere. I know a lost cause when I see one, and to be honest my heart just wasn't in it to argue further because I wasn't surprised in the slightest that something like this has happened.

Me: "Sigh... alright, well, if you know of anyone else going to San Francisco let me know"

I walk outside, slump into a chair, thinking hard of what my next move should be. I've booked and planned everything completely only to reach an impossible hurdle at the very first step.

I assess my options; I can't return back to the hostel because they are booked out. I could stay in Los Angeles, but I'd be taking a gamble that I can find a good hostel to stay the night that isn't booked out (or isn't dodgy... which a hell of a lot are). I could fly still, I guess it shouldn't cost too much... although I was really looking forward to driving. Two new friends I've met recently have requested I come stay with them; Pat who lives in Nashville and Vanessa who lives in Atlanta... but I would have to organize it with them first... sigh.

I opt to take a shuttle bus back to the airport to buy a plane ticket, figuring I've already booked my San Francisco hostel and am planning to meet my friend Peter (from back home in Australia) there so I might as well go still. Yeah, a ticket was $190... forget that. Staying in Los Angeles it is! My best bet is to go back to my original hostel for the day to use their Wi-Fi and plan my next move from there.

By now it is 2pm, I've been on the move since 10am. I'm absolutely starving and my ankle is on fire. I could pay $60 for a taxi (very tempting given the situation)... but I decide I should save money so I bus it back. An hour and a half later I am dropped off 4km away from my hostel. Another bus should come by any minute and this one will pass straight by the hostel, perfect.

Things were looking up!

I grab some quick lunch before moving on. It was terribly fattening, I only manage to eat half of it (freakin' America...). While eating, some lady gets into World War 3 with her kid, it was insane. Then some guy with missing teeth walks in and talks nonsense to all the staff, lovely. It wasn't until a lady having loud conversations with herself enters, does a lap of the tables, then walks out again, that I start to get concerned for my safety and possessions.

Where the hell am I...

I walk outside to catch a bus, growing eager to get out of this place. The lady who was talking to herself waves to me and starts yelling, then cracks up laughing. I guess she said something funny, I couldn't make out a word. I take in my surroundings and while the buildings looked nice enough the people looked insane.

Sitting at that bus stop with all of my possessions on me was one of the scariest experiences of my life, I kid you not. This was not a neighbourhood I was meant to be in.

A police car drove past every 5 minutes, which I couldn't decide whether to take comfort in, or as a warning sign. Ten minutes passes, it felt like a thousand, the bus just wouldn't arrive. So I got up and left, eager to call a taxi, just wanting desperately to get out of this place. Across the road was a shopping mall, great. I ask a security guard for the number to call a taxi and stood close by these nice ladies who were getting people to sign for a petition, figuring it is safe(er) here at least.

Now this next event almost seemed scripted I just could not believe it, it really fulfilled beyond any shadow of a doubt the way I was feeling about this place. Oh, and keep in mind it is about 3.30pm on a Wednesday, bright and sunny, and I am standing out the front of a very public and open shopping mall. Let me paint the scene.

An old guy walks out of the mall, one of the petition ladies calls out to him in a friendly voice "Oh hi, it's you again. I've seen you everyday this week"

Old guy, equally friendly, replies: "Yep, I come here every single day, always something to buy"

Petition lady: "Oh is that so. Well I expect to see you tomorrow then, you have a nice day now"

Old guy walks away. Two minutes later he returns.

Petition lady, chuckling: "Back already? Forget to buy something?"

Old guy is looking very disgruntled, then holds up a broken bike lock: "Nope, but I swear people are getting crazy desperate these days... someone stole my bike!"


Eventually I manage to get out of that place via the safety of a taxi... upon reaching the hostel I think I kissed the ground like people do when they land after nearly dying in an airplane emergency. Jon-Paul and Julia are shocked to see me sitting on the coach, which was pretty funny actually. After a few hours of using the hostels' Wi-Fi I manage to secure myself a new hostel for the night... which is in Downtown L.A... a place even more scary than the one I just escaped from. It will do.

And there you have it, that's where I am now, 9pm at night at the new hostel in Downtown L.A.

I talked to my mum via Skype just before, she was surprised to hear from me as obviously I was meant to be half way to San Francisco by now. She loves to laugh at my misfortune and told me, in between huge fits of laughter, to 'call the day an adventure'. I replied with "an adventure? I just spent $100 today to get no where!"

12 hours ago I woke up very much looking forward to a day of driving, filled with peace, chips, music, and being half way to San Francisco...

I didn't get any of those things.

Update: Oh great... look what I just found plastered up around the hostel advertising an exciting event planned for tomorrow morning. One day a year this happens and it just happens to be tomorrow... One. Day. A. Year!


Tom said...

Hah, I guess one plus you can take from it is it has definitely made an amusing blog post! I guess this is the part of travelling they leave off the advertisements...right?

hannah marie said...

wow, that's crazy, so much in 48 hours!!
Hahha, you really are a trooper.

Ugh, lol those crazy ppl in that restaurant are some of the folks that approach me on a daily basis...i'm not even joking. L.A is sooo insane :)

Azz said...

Tom - Thanks man! It's great to hear you guys enjoy it =) Ha and yeah, I guess I missed this page in the holiday brochure!

Hannah - Ha yep I agree with you there, L.A is a crazy place that's for sure, am constantly being surprised.

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