March 7, 2019, Los Angeles-
Among the phenomena which might be overlooked, when one is en route to a special destination, is the landscape below an airplane circling for a safe landing. Such was the case this evening, as our Sky West flight from Phoenix got cleared for landing at LAX.
This was the first time in memory that I had a window seat, and thus could look at the vast expanse of territory that is the Los Angeles Basin. With all that has been written, bantered and felt about LA and its smog, congestion and excess, the place as a whole is a marvel, when seen from 8,000 feet-especially at night. Some SoCal-phobes will reply that a mess can’t be a marvel, but we know better. One does not have to approve of what is the current situation, to be amazed at how much humanity is packed into even such a vast area.
Prior to this, I put in a full day at work and was glad to leave my charges with a sense of accomplishment, leading up to the ten-week homestretch that follows Spring Break, The shuttle van down to Phoenix was an equally smooth and quotidian process, with us arriving at Sky Harbor with time to spare. Barrio Avion provided tender and spicy beef for my farewell burrito.
Two three-year-old boys, meeting by chance and becoming fast friends, provided the after-dinner entertainment. G., a new older brother, very much appreciated the presence of J., his new friend. Watching them play with miniature cars and trucks, hide and seek and get lectured by their respective fathers, for shaking the line stantions, that are used to separate groups of boarding passengers. There was no lack of spirit with these two. Indeed, my first encounter with G was his running up the aisle, momentarily unbeknownst to his parents. I kept my distance, but also kept an eye on him, in case he made it clear to the TSA area. Mom was on scene, 30 seconds later, and brought him safely back to the gate lobby. Then J and father showed up and more localized activity took over.
We landed at LAX, about fifteen minutes late. I then embarked on a 1 1/4-mile walk, from the United terminal to the Asiana booths, at Tom Bradley International (AKA Terminal B). I am in the shape to undertake such a luggage lug, but I wonder how disabled people are accommodated, with the City of Cars expecting everyone to walk, with no electric sidewalks and only the occasional elevator, along the labyrinth.
I made it, with the loudspeaker calling my name, four times, as the Koreans wanted to verify my new passport. I heard them and felt their pain, eventually getting to show the document to the chief of security at Asiana and receiving his swift assistance, in getting through the line, to the check-in booth and onto the shuttle bus that brought us to the plane. It was an East Asian style shuttle, meaning that a packer was on hand, to shout at and cajole us into cramming as tightly as possible. I actually kind of miss those days, in Seoul and Jeju, though I must say young men are less prone to grab all the seats and make women and older men stand for the ride. That is the one thing about the old days that never failed to get me rankled, especially when Penny was pregnant with Aram.
I’m on the plane now, seated with an elegant woman from Colombia and a Korean student, on Spring Break from her school in Arizona. It’ll be a long, and I sense, restful, journey to Seoul.