Saturday, February 5, 2011

...a grand adventure

A few months ago I posted about making a big change in my life. I'm not quite ready to go totally public with all the details just yet, but...on the way to that GRAND ADVENTURE I had a grand adventure that warmed my heart and reaffirmed that people everywhere are GOOD. Get a cup of your favorite wintertime beverage, and settle in for the story:

This past Tuesday I got up at 3:00 a.m. to make sure that I was at the {somewhat} local airport for my 6:15 flight. By 6:00 my fellow travellers and I knew something was up. Then the announcement came: due to mechanical difficulties, the flight had been cancelled. Oh dear. Next flight out was at 9:15. Since I live in Podunk, there are no direct flights to LA--we must go to Seattle first, change planes, then to LA. (It was a beautiful day to be up in the air!)My plan had been to arrive in plenty of time to change my clothes, fix my hair, and...breathe. Instead, I changed clothes in the restroom in Seattle, landed in LA at 2:15, grabbed a taxi and pulled up to the hotel just in time for my 3:10 appointment. Whew. (My hair looked fine, but I sure could have used that time to breathe!) The interview was over and done with before I knew it, and I staggered out to the street, feeling like I had really blown it. (I didn't, but that's a later post.) The kind doorman put me into another taxi and I headed to my budget motel.

It has been many years since I have seen the beaches of California, and I really wanted to experience the boardwalk at Venice Beach. After changing into jeans and walking shoes I asked the motel clerk the best way to get there. He said I could take another taxi, or...walk down the street, take a right at Burger King, and catch the Big Blue Bus at the bus terminal. It would take me right there. So off I went. I walked, and walked, and walked...and saw nothing that looked like a bus terminal. A woman was waiting to cross the street and I asked her if she knew where it was. She gave me a look that made me think, "Oh no, she doesn't speak English!" But then she pointed down the street--we were almost there. I stood in front of the information board, trying to get my bearings when the woman hurried over to me. "There's your bus--run!" So I ran, and got onto the Big Blue Bus that was seconds from pulling away, only to discover that I needed a one dollar bill or change. I had a $5 bill, a $10, and a $20 and some change--but not a single $1 bill. I dug in my purse and dropped coins in while asking the driver if I was on the right bus. "No, but for 50 cents more, I can give you a transfer." I looked in my coin purse with dismay--all that was left was a bunch of pennies. "I don't HAVE 50 cents," I wailed. So the kind driver gave me a free pass for the next bus, and told me when to get off. He pointed out the bus I needed and said to run!

I sprinted across the street and made it to the next bus. "What an adventure!" I said to the driver. She glanced at me and dryly said, "Uh huh." (She later said she thought I was a stewardess when I got on! ha!)
Then a delightful elderly man and his dog got on and sat down across from me. He had a wonderful Italian accent and told me how the dog had saved his life--he had been all alone and contemplating suicide when he was given the dog. Everyone on the bus was listening and joining in on the conversation. He asked me where I was going, so I told him--Venice Beach. Then the bus really came alive. People were telling the bus driver not to let me off--it was too dangerous on Venice Beach at night. A young woman came up from the back of the bus to tell me where it was safe to go. A man behind me got a map for me to use. Everyone was offering suggestions when the bus driver told them to be quiet--she knew where she was going to drop me off. Finally, she pulled up to a stop and had me come up and stand by her. She was letting me off at the Santa Monica pier--it was lighted and safe there. She pointed out landmarks and made sure I knew my way back, and where to stand to wait for the return bus. I thanked them all profusely and got off.

I didn't see the sunset over the ocean, and I didn't get to walk on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, but I did get to walk on the Santa Monica pier. I did have the incredible experience of having a bus load of strangers take care of me in LA.
It was cold on the pier, so I bought something warm to drink and ducked into this mall to get out of the wind. A man saw my reaction to the floor-to-ceiling display of old sewing machines on this store front and offered to take my picture. Another friendly stranger!
Oh, and I made it back to my motel just fine, and went to eat in a fabulous Greek restaurant--Aliki's Greek Taverna.

Spicy feta cheese appetizer

Comfort food after a long day: Pastitsio


Arlene said...

I love the reactions of people when you believe in their goodness. What a fun time! I wish I could have been with you for the Greek food. Pastitsio is one of my favorites. I always get it at our Greek Food Festival.

LimesNow said...

I want a transfusion of what you have (attitude and seeking/finding goodness)! I obediently read this over a cup of really good coffee - I ground a type of bean this morning that is new to me. In the first paragraph of your post, I got some of the answers to questions posed in my last e-mail to you - I'm both excited and heart-in-mouth for you, Dooz. It's been too many decades since I roamed around my SoCal homeland, and I had a little fit of whimsy: what if I'd driven over and joined you for a short while? Something to consider for future adventures when opportunities present themselves. Can't wait to hear more. Since I'm not living so large right now, living vicariously through you is quite an adventure! <3

jeff said...

Great story, and now I'm hungry for Greek food. My wife and I were in Manhattan years ago and I was amazed at how many people were willing to give directions if we asked, or even just looked lost.

Janie said...

This makes me both incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time. I know it will be a grand adventure and one you shouldn't miss . . . but woe is me.

Doozyanner said...

Arlene and Jeff--the Greek food was fabulous! Limes--I'll let you know if I have to go back to LA any time soon.
Janie--Leaving friends behind is one of the biggest challenges. I'm glad we have FB, email and blogs! (But it still won't be the same as a Thursday morning sewing session!)

Early said...

It just occurred to me that helpful fellow you encountered is a dead-ringer for my late father-in-law, had he had a beard.