Monday, March 17, 2008

The Most Popular Girl in the Parking Lot

Last week I was in LA at a customer event. My flight was scheduled to leave at the crack of, well- actually before the crack of dawn. I strolled out to the parking lot where the front desk attendant assured me there should be cabs-a-plenty waiting for me. As I suspected, working the night shift must have impaired her judgement to understand when the rest of the human population was awake. There was not a cab in sight. I lugged my bags back into the lobby and informed her there were no cabs waiting. She got on her walkie-talkie and made a request for a cab and let me know it would be about 5 minutes. I strolled back outside (as best as you can stroll down stairs with a purse, laptop bag and a suitcase) and waited.

Like clockwork, about 5 minutes later, two cabs show up at exactly the same time. I immediately sense the tension as they both are aware of the others existence and race to jump out of their cabs to grab my attention. Ten seconds later, there are two men calling to me to get in their cab. "Here you go lady. I have my cab for you!" "No, no Miss, put your luggage in my trunk. I come for you!". I must say, I've never been the object of such desperation. It was a bit disarming. I hesitated and gave a brief assessment to the situation.

Both speak English- check!
Both look as though they will actually get me to my requested destination without me ending up in the La Brea Tar Pits?- check!

Wow, it's a difficult choice. Finally, one of the drivers says to me, "I get call from hotel that you wait for cab." That clinched it for me. Decision made. I put my luggage in his trunk and start for the back seat.

So the taxi driver I didn't select (from now on referred to as Non-Chosen Driver) now turns his attention to the other driver (from now on referred to as Chosen Driver). They start yelling at each other.
"I was here first"
"I got the call- you can look on my monitor"

The fact that Chosen Driver actually got a call seemed unbelievable to Non-Chosen Driver. Non-Chosen Driver is now P-I-S-S-E-D. He's now leaning his body into the cab and demanding proof that the call came in. He's squinting at the monitor and still yelling at Chosen Driver. I'm in the back seat, ready to go and Chosen Driver wants to take me but I suspect it's illegal to drive off with another cab driver hanging out of your window. Now Chosen Driver is screaming at Non-Chosen Driver to get out of his cab but the guy just won't give up. As if at this point, there is any chance in hell I would exit this cab and enter his. I'm now convinced my earlier assessment of being safe from the La Brea Tar Pits if I ride with him might not be 100% accurate. If I hadn't been in danger of missing my flight, it might have been interesting to see how it all played out. As it was, it didn't seem to be winding down on its own so I sensed I might need to intervene. I guessed that me nicely requesting, "Sir, do you mind perhaps removing your upper torso from the driver's side window so we can depart?" might not have the intended result. So, I opted instead to look him straight in the eye and scream at the top of my lungs, "GET OUT OF THE CAB! I'VE GOTTA GO! BACK UP! GET OUT! THIS IS RIDICULOUS".

Non-Chosen Driver snapped to attention and looked like he was surprised to see me in the back seat. Which in an odd way, I found insulting since for the last 10 minutes they had been fighting over, well... ME!

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