Monday, July 25, 2005

The New Nightmare

So, okay, I know you're probably all sick of bitching about my car, but it's really really really hard to function in this city without your own set of wheels.

I've been reflecting all week on the people I know who live in LA without cars. At my old job, my good friend Steve had to constantly get rides from other people or even (gasp!) take the bus all the way from his Silverlake home to our West Hollywood office.

No idea how he handled it. The entire ordeal would have driven me batshit insane within a week.

Take yesterday, for example. I went out early, to catch the bus, forgetting that bus schedules and routes change on Sundays and holidays. So, naturally, the bus didn't come. Or rather, it did come, but not to the stop I had positioned myself by, leading to a hilarious scene in which the bus pulled up across the street, I took off like a screaming maniac in a fruitless attempt to hold it there, the bus driver takes off, oblivious to my cries, and I wind up stranded, alone on Overland Blvd., with 15 minutes to get to work.

Now normally, this would not have been too horrible a situation, even when you factor in that it was approxmiately 500 degrees outside in the shade yesterday. You know that scene in Terminator 2 when Linda Hamilton has a vision of the end of the world, and then turns into a flaming skeleton? It was kind of like that, only hotter.

Thankfully, I had my cell phone on me. "No problem," I thought, trying to keep my mental state optimistic. "I'll just call a cab and they'll be here in 10 minutes."

So I dial 4-1-1 on the phone, which I realize is over-expensive but, hey, it's for situations like this one.

So I call. And I wait on hold for about six eternities. I used to have AT&T Wireless, and the few times I used their 4-1-1 service, it worked beautifully. But now AT&T has been sold to Cingular, also known as the Stupidest and Worst Company in the Entire World.

And being the Worst Company Ever, they naturally program their 4-1-1 directory to hang up on your after making you wait 15 minutes. Here's a transcript of your conversation:

CINGULAR: 411. What city please?
ME: West Los Angeles.
CINGULAR: Hold please.
ME: Okay.
[Cue musak versions of old Sting songs]
CINGULAR: What city please?
ME: Um...West Los Angeles.
CINGULAR: I'll put you on hold.
[Cue musak versions of old Cyndi Lauper songs]
CINGULAR: What listing?
ME: I just need a cab.
CINGULAR: Okay, thanks.
[They hang up]
[I redial]
CINGULAR: 411. What city please?
ME: West Los Angeles.
CINGULAR: Hang on.
[Cue musak versions of old Doobie Brothers songs]
CINGULAR: What listing?
ME: The Beverly Hills Cab Company.
AUTOMATIC COMPUTER VOICE: Please hold while we connect you for no additional fee.
[They hang up]

I'm not sure what happened next. Between the heat, and my frustration, I'm pretty sure I did something rash like murder a transient, but I honestly don't remember.

All I know is, I came to and realized that the 7-11 right behind me had a pay phone! And some pay phones actually have phone books attached!

So I raced over there, and sure enough, dangling from the pay phone stall was the answer to my prayers, a West Los Angeles Yellow Pages.

Have you figured out the exciting twist ending to this anecdote? Well, here is comes.


I guess this isn't that surprising. I'm guessing TAXIS is probably one of the first sections to get ripped out of a pay phone directory, at least in my neighborhood. Right after LIQUOR and before ESCORTS.

It was intensely annoying, though. Eventually, I had to make the trek to my apartment, look up a cab company on the Internet, call them and wait, and then take a taxi to work for about $10. Fortunately, I was only about 20 minutes late to work. Nice.

In a little under an hour, I'm heading out once more to a bus stop, although I have somewhat more confidence that the bus will actually show up where it's supposed to this time. Otherwise, I may just have to murder another transient...Only time will tell...

No comments: