Standby... Wait... And analyze.
Trip Start Jun 12, 2014
13Trip End Ongoing
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You are at the bottom of the barrel on the standby list. Amy Winehouse bottom. And knowing this, it tends to wake up a little demon in your head that keeps asking you "Am I gonna get on? And what the hell am I gonna do if I don't?".
I was originally booked to fly out from LAX on a 1025am flight, but after speaking with the airline the night before around 10pm by phone, to get load information, they insisted I had absolutely no chance on the direct flight, and to try another one. Fab!
So I called another airline who I can also fly standby with, and they said I'd have no problem getting to Chicago if I left on a flight that departs at 0645, but it wasn't direct, it was via Minneapolis. Awesome!?
Not so awesome when I realised I needed to pack, squeeze in a sleep, and take a car to the airport around 0430am!
Suffice to say, I had very little sleep, there was no Starbucks open to get a coffee hit to keep me alive and I was too busy deliriously laughing with my brother on Skype while running around throwing things in my suitcase.
So there I am, ready to go, and I organised a Lyft car to take me to the airport. First time I'd used this service, as I normally preferred using Uber in LA.
The driver arrived and welcomed me with a smile, threw my what seemed 100kg suitcase in the boot of his car and said I was free to sit at the front if I wanted to, I didn't, but I did.
In the car my eyes were burning, the heart rate was irregular, and my body was wishing I hadn't partied so hard in WEHO as I did in the past 5 days. But the driver who seemed rather sweet, was chatty and somewhat distracted my twinges and tenderness.
As the drive continued, it seemed that the driver and I were really hitting it off, the chat broadened, we were talking about our personal lives, families, what we did for a living, and even established our sexuality, which wasn't too hard to tell that we were both from the same mothership.
"Its a shame I've only just met you" he said, "we coulda hung out". And I agreed, this guy was a cutie. What a story to tell the grandkids! "In my younger years, when I was travelling the world alone on standby, I met your grandfather who was a driver for an app called 'Lyft' on the iPhone, remember those old touch screen type phones?"
The driver even asked if I wanted to have a coffee with him in the terminal since he had the time and was in control over when he could pick up another Lyft rider.
At one point I had to ask him if he had hidden cameras installed in the car, like this was some sort of hoax reality game show where the interior of the car lights up, a disco ball drops and a neon light flashes "You've been punk'd desperado!"
He laughed, and assured me it wasn't.
20 minutes later, after twinkling my work ID card for some sneaky jumping of the check in queues, I found myself and the driver walking around the terminal looking for Starbucks. This shit was getting awkward. How has this gone from a random driver taking me to the airport at 4am, to then be sitting down having a coffee with him in Starbucks at L AY X?
The conversation was flowing and distorting simultaneously, and I personally kept thinking to myself "WHAT is going on?", I couldn't relax and perhaps it was the nervous standby jitters preoccupying my thoughts.
Although a lovely and genuinely sweet guy, and rather easy on the eye, I began to discover a side to him that although I tried my hardest not to judge, it left me feeling a little uneasy, a little shocked and maybe even a little intrigued. He began painting a picture of his past, that there was once cash transactions involved when being with guys, and that it continued for a quite some time. Who cares really, I mean, everyone has a past, and to a degree, I was rather fascinated by his story, I was intrigued and freaked at the same time and wanted to tap more into his brain about it. BUT it was time to call it a balmy (and extremely weird) morning, and that I should probably get going... I had run out of time to explore his cans of worms (see what I did there?). We added each other on Facebook and I even got a little smooch on the mouth from him! But that was free.
So there I was, playing the standby game... After the coiled line of cattle waiting to be abused by LAX airport security staff as each person gets spoken to like they're an invalid passing through the X-ray booth, I kindly presented myself to the gate staff at my departure lounge, who in 2.3 seconds told me to stand aside and wait for my name to be called, if I'm lucky.
After almost 40 minutes of watching all these full paying and deserving passenger boarding the flight, my name was eventually called! HOORAY! With a sighed of relief, I clutched my man bag and I was off!
But I wasn't going directly to Chicago, I was transiting in Minneapolis, a place I could barely even pronounce, let alone know where it was...