Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My dignified life

Did you ever have one of those dreams where you're struggling to get somewhere you urgently have to be, and you encounter obstacle after obstacle in the attempt? Well I had a day like that today.

A friend invited me to an important ceremony at a local institution - Nameless Institute - and because he was participating in the ceremony, I had a seat in the "special guest" section. Parking had been arranged for me near the venue. Tickets were waiting in my name at Will Call. It was to start at 10:00 a.m.

I gave myself plenty of time to drive to the location - a large multi-facility complex with several different parking lots. And I got there with 15 minutes to spare - not bad in L.A.

And then everything seemed to go wrong. You know how it is when every choice you make is the wrong one?

I saw a sign directing Parking for the ceremony to Parking Lot Right Here, but - ha ha! - I knew I had special arranged parking in Parking Lot Even Closer, so I passed up the sign. Uh oh! Traffic down to one lane, so I waited through two cycles of the light before I could turn into the street leading to Lot Even Closer. I followed the sign, turned into a lot with plenty of spaces, but - alas, the gate was down and no attendant present. You needed to insert a ticket to get in!

It was now 9:52. I backed up and drove around a bunch of buildings to a parking booth. At the three-way stop sign, I politely let another driver go first - and of course she went to the parking booth, too. I waited while she conducted whatever long and incredibly complicated business she had, that involved much waving of hands and the attendant going in and out of the booth several times.

9:57. Finally it was my turn! I gave my name, and the attendant went into the booth and returned with my pass and ticket, but then she said, "Your reservation was for Parking Lot Even Closer, but since there's an event, my supervisor has changed it to Parking Lot Far Away."

"But - that's what I'm here for!"

"Oh, well, let me go back and call my supervisor," said the attendant - at which point I said - "No, no, just give me the pass and I'll go there!" realizing the moment the words came out that I had just done a really stupid thing.

9:59. To the 3-way stop again, waiting while the person in front of me peered anxiously at street signs, and then off to Parking Lot Far Away.

I pulled in behind a car whose driver waved a keycard at the sensor. Nothing happened. Again. Nothing. Again. Pause. A car pulled in behind me. Another wave of the keycard. Nothing. Her back-up lights came on. I shifted into reverse. The car behind me shifted into reverse. We all backed up and let her out - off to the parking booth she went.

10:01. I entered Parking Lot Far Away. And went around and around. The only open spaces had "reserved" signs. Up and up. Finally a space! Between 2 Huge SUVs. In the corner of Lot Far Away farthest away from the ceremony venue.

10:03. I couldn't open the car door. I had a vision of myself crawling over the back seat and out the station wagon hatchback. Put in the key, back up and ooch over to the right a little - eek! watch your mirror against his! I could just squeeze myself out the driver's side door. Thank goodness I lost those 5 pounds at Weightwatchers.

10:04. Briskly walking now, proper dress-up heels click-clocking against the concrete sidewalk. It's a long way! Passing people walking casually on the sidewalk - quickly down a flight of stairs cross a lawn and then up more steps.

10:08. I reach Will Call, breathing hard, claim my ticket, and enter the lobby. An usher points me to the stairs to the balcony. I shake my head and thrust my ticket at him. "Special guest?" "Door on the right," he says, and as I approach the open double doors, another usher pulls them shut and stands in front of them. "It's started. Use the far door."

10:09. I enter the far door. I'm in the auditorium. There are rows of seats cordonned off. There isn't an usher in sight. Where do I go?

I'm usually not intimidated in a theatre, but this ceremony involves processionals and all kinds of ritual. Are those cordoned off seats meant for some of the participants? I surely don't want to sit in a section meant for dignitaries to occupy during the proceedings! As I stand there, feeling the sweat trickle down my sides beneath my jacket, the announcer says, "Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem!"

Yikes! If I stay here I can't move, and then they'll all sit down and where will I go? I slipped out the door I came in through and -

Fortunately for me, I came face to face with The Most Organized Person I Know, who happens to work at Nameless Institute. I glommed onto her like a drowning person. She grabbed an usher and thrust him at me, saying, "This lady needs assistance!" and then, just like a Super Hero after a rescue, she vanished.

The applause for the national anthem was just peaking as I was shown to my seat, where I sighed, let my breathing slow, and composed myself back into the dignified special guest I was supposed to be.

I smiled at the couple next to me. The speaker made a little joke - I chuckled with the rest of the audience. Breathe. When it was all over, at least they had lemonade and cupcakes.

1 comment:

KathyR said...

Every comedy of errors should end with cupcakes.