And why would I celebrate having to exchange my straight-through, morning LA-Columbus flight for a red-eye leaving Los Angeles at 12:40 am,laying over in Minneapolis in the wee hours and arriving in Columbus the next morning?
The answer, of course, is $$$$.
Now, I don't consider myself a greedy materialistic person under normal circumstances.
But when I'm in an airport standing before the self-check-in kiosk and upon the screen pops a request for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for a free airline ticket the dollar signs start flashing behind my eyes.
I always volunteer to be bumped. I WANT that free airline ticket! I'm kind of OCD about it; so much so, in fact, that even when there's been no call for volunteers I usually approach the gate agent and let him or her know that if they happen to need a bump-volunteer they can count on me. The agents always smile and thank me but I feel like they must be shaking their heads as I walk away, as if they know how I'm just jonesing for that free airline ticket. Which I am.
But, alas, volunteering to be bumped is like buying a lottery ticket: the chances of winning that free seat are slim to zilch; because even though the airlines invariably over-book all their flights, there are almost always some thoroughly inconsiderate individuals who've bought a ticket but then don't show up for their flight which frees up the over-booked seats and prevents me from getting bumped and snagging my free ticket! It's aggravating!
But last Saturday, with the end-of-Spring Break return migrations in full-tilt boogie, I finally hit the jackpot! We all did, Tom, Tommy and I, each receiving a $400 airline voucher for an airline ticket.
And on top of that we received an added bonus: an extra day in Los Angeles!
Now, granted, it was our own plan to return to Columbus on Saturday; that was what we'd chosen. But when Saturday morning arrived we were all kind of sad to leave, kind of wishing that we could spend another day. And thanks to the over-booking airlines and the only available flight being the one that left at 12:40 am Sunday morning, we got our wish, the gift of another day in Los Angeles.
So now we were faced with the happy dilemma of how to spend this day.
It turned out that Maria and Justin and the kids already had plans and commitments for the day and evening, so Tom, Tommy and I decided to make our own plans.
I came up with the idea of taking the Metro train , (the Los Angeles public transit rail system) to Hollywood, which idea Tom and Tommy seconded. So we did. Three different trains, in fact, not counting the free shuttle bus from the LA airport to the Metro station.
Funny, but I always imagined Watts as a landscape of urban high-rises, a West-Coast equivalent of the Bronx or Beford-Stuyvesant in New York City.
But what we saw from the train window were small pastel-colored stucco houses, Palm trees (Of course! This is Los Angeles, there are palm trees everywhere!) and mountains off in the distance. I had more the feeling of being in Mexico. (I've never been to Mexico, but this was my image of what Mexico would look like).
The train was crowded and, excluding a couple of panhandlers working the cars, our fellow passengers were sociable. The panhandlers didn't seem to have much success with the passengers, though a girl who came onto the train selling snacks and candy bars actually did make quite a few sales.
We had to change trains one more time and an hour-and-a half from when we started out from the airport we arrived at Hollywood Boulevard, the tourist heart of Hollywood.
We had a good time, anyway. We found this great little inexpensive Greek fast-food place for lunch where we ate outside on the patio. I had the shwarma (I think it was grilled lamb) with rice, stuffed grape-leaves, and salad. It was delicious!
After the game was over (sadly, UD lost!) we thought it best to head back to the airport so we wouldn't have to negotiate certain of the Metro stops after dark.
However, as we still had a good 7 hours to kill before 11:00 pm, the time at which we'd been advised to check back in for our flight, I suggested that we get off at the Manhattan Beach station, which is along the same line as the airport, and take in a movie and dinner. So we did.
Ultimately we opted to skip the movie but walked around Manhattan Beach for a while, then found a pizza place called Union Pizza which claimed to have the best pizza in Manhattan Beach. I don't know whether we had the best pizza in Manhattan Beach, but it was very good pizza.
Then we hopped back on the Metro and by the time we'd arrived at the airport and checked in we all started to realize the underlying flaw in our plan for the day: After waking up early that morning to catch our original flight, being bumped, then traveling and walking around for 10 hours we were now exhausted and still had a 12:40 am flight before us in two hours. We each dealt with the situation in our own way: Tommy stretched out on the waiting-area floor and took a nap, Tom toughed it out and read the paper, and I conked out in my seat and dreamed of one day being bumped again.