IMR: 1998: October: 20 — Tuesday, 4:15 p.m. (PST)
Gate 22A, Los Angeles International Airport, California

I wonder if one of my coworkers is cursed.

At the moment, I'm sitting on the floor against the wall in LAX, our flight to Honolulu having just been delayed by an hour. But I suspect we may be here even longer.

"We're sorry for the delay, but they've given notice of a mechanical problem," the nervous-sounding gate agent said over the PA system. "They didn't tell us if it was a minor problem or a serious problem with the plane, but we'll know at 4:30 if we can board."

If we can board? Not a good sign.

It's an especially upsetting development for David and Steve, my traveling companions, because of the nightmare they had getting out here last week. The plane sprouted an oil leak and had to turn back to Honolulu 90 minutes into the flight. They had to sit in the airport for four hours before reboarding.

So is there a hex on the office? Nah. It's just Northwest.

The same day my coworkers' plane turned back (last Tuesday), another Northwest jet on the east coast filled with smoke, sickening several passengers. And two days before that, the airline had an aborted takeoff in Michigan. (These weren't the most encouraging things to read in the newspaper, obviously, when I was getting ready for this trip.)

In fact, while we've been sitting here at the gate, two other Northwest flights have been delayed, and one of them moved gates. Even the gate agent that checked us in was unusually rude. (David's drafting a nasty letter to NWA's corporate headquarters already.)

The recent strike surely helped the employees' pocketbooks, but I guess it hasn't made the service any better.

So Steve's stretched out on the floor next to me, sleeping like a baby with a slight grin on his face. David's fidgeting (and likely fuming) in uncomfortable airport seats, listening to the guy across from him snore. And I'm here carefully guarding the gate's one free power outlet.

Well, depsite the present travel difficulties, it's been a decent day.

Even though the smog was pretty thick this morning, I was actually happy to step out and fill my lungs with it. You might think the carefully-controlled climate inside a luxury hotel would be nice, but after being sealed inside a pseudo-biodome for nearly six days straight, any outdoor air feels great.

Woop. What do you know. Time to fly.

Tuesday, 8:04 p.m. (PST)
Approx. 900 mi. east of Los Angeles, California

The in-flight movie is "A Perfect Murder." So far, I'm not impressed.

Again, I didn't pay for the headphones, but this time I'm tuned in because the headsets were free. A "sorry we're late" present from Northwest. They also gave Steve and I three packs of pretzels.

We're on a roll. I wonder if I should join David on the nasty letter path. Five minutes and 32 cents is a small price to pay for 500 free WorldPerks miles. (This trip inaugurated my account.)

We are, if the co-pilot is to believed, exactly 90 minutes behind schedule. It's 5 p.m. in Honolulu, and I'll be landing a bit before 8 p.m.. Unfortunately, I think my little Los Angeles extension made it possible for the California time zone to firmly plant itself in my body. By the time I'm back in our cozy apartment in Makiki, my brain will think it's 2 a.m.

At least I'll be sleeping in until 9 a.m.

Anyway, where was I?

After sleeping in, finally, this morning, I headed downstairs to help pack up the last remnants of our hotel office. With that last "work" task complete, we had five hours to kill before heading to the airport.

David wanted to do some shopping, so I joined him. We wandered the sprawling shopping center across the street. Ala Moana might be bigger, but not by much. And Honolulu has nothing compared to the variety of shops we saw.

We spun through Macy's and Bloomingdale's (are there apostrophes?), several travel and trinket shops, and looked over the window displays at a variety of men's stores. All the places I've only seen in "Rolling Stone" were there. Abercrombie and Fitch had some pretty nice stuff, but definitely out of my price range.

Having exhausted the browsing opportunities in Century City, we pondered what to do with our last two hours. It was then that David revealed a personal passion of his: vintage electric guitars.

Before long, we were in a cab, hurtling down Pico Boulevard toward Sunset. Our cab driver was quite aggressive, but skilled. After passing Hollywood High, we got out at a place called The Guitar Factory.

The store was huge. Its inventory was, without a doubt, larger than the inventory of every music shop in Honolulu put together. In fact, it was like several connected stores, each large room dedicated to a single instrument. A room with nothing but guitars, another with only drums, another with keyboards, even a room dedicated to mixing boards and computer sequencers.

David was a very focused customer. He knew exactly what he was looking for. A mid- to late-70s Fender with a specific type of wood on the neck. Despite the store's vast collection of new and used 'axes,' they didn't have much of the specific variety David wanted.

The area, fortunately, turned out to be guitar central, with two guitar shops right across the street and another three within a block. We hit them all, and a couple actually had nice Fenders, but all for $1,200 or more. (David was only looking for a second guitar, as he was already the proud owner of a '75.)

Satisfied that his present instrument was a good investment, we hopped back in the cab and hurtled back to the hotel. There we picked up Steve, and we were off to the airport.

And I think I'm back at the beginning of this entry, so I'll close.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 20 October 1998 · Last Modified: 31 October 1998