Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I almost had a heart attack the other morning when, on my way to LAX to catch a 7:50 a.m. flight, I came to Parking Lot B and saw a huge looming sign saying "Employees Only."

For years I had used Parking Lot B for long-term parking. I had memorized the Century Boulevard exit off the 405 South, that little frisson where you have to veer right (else be steered exorably, frighteningly, unthinkably toward Imperial Highway), then left onto La Cienaga, then down to 111th. Lot B was the furthest away from the terminals but also (of course) the cheapest. Eight bucks a day. Lot B was part of a whole ritual and routine that gave me the illusion of being "safe." Lot B, place ticket in wallet, empty out remainder of coffee, affix club to steering wheel, walk to the shuttle (I am always way too impatient to wait till the driver ambles around to my section). Lot B was part of the whole mental structure I build before boarding a plane, entrusting my life to an unseen pilot, flying through the ether--and that's not even counting the frightening "unknown" that inevitably awaits on the other end. 

And now Lot B was closed! Why had no-one told me! Why had there not been a public service announcement to every citizen of L.A.? How did people find out about such cataclysmic changes? Where would I park now? How would I find my way in the dark? What if I missed my plane? I thought of Kafka who, studying for his law exams, had noticed one hand nervously creeping toward the other, as if to comfort it. 

And later I thought, if the nervous system of a warm-blooded animal can react so strongly to a change of parking lot, how people must feel who are waiting for the jury to come back. I thought of the people who are about to hear the results of a biopsy.
I thought about the people in the boxcars headed for Auschwitz.

I parked in Lot C (12 bucks a day). I made it with time to spare. But next time I'm going to drive downtown, park at Union Station (6 bucks a day), and take the "Flyaway" Bus (14 round trip). 


  1. Ironic that airports, which are all about very specific direction, are among the most disorienting places on earth - especially their peripheries, where places like Lots B and C are.

  2. Exactly. And that they are waystations between heaven and earth makes their very existence disorienting. Never mind when you have to find a place to park your car near them!


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