Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chance of a Lifetime for a Space Geek

On Friday, Glen and I watched the Space Shuttle Endeavor pass by on a 747 from Long Beach, CA on its way to LAX. I was thrilled and touched. It was fun to be with masses of people all excited to see this historic technology fly by. An amazing moment. An amazing scene. I had arrived about 9:45 and waited until around 12:30. This video is exactly what I saw from my vantage point outside the Queen Mary. In fact, from the ground shots included, this photographer must have been standing very close to me.

I had a great time...until I tried to leave the parking lot. People had parked in red zone, double parked, and maxxed out the lot. No one could move. Meanwhile no one closed the parking lot, so visitors to the Queen Mary continued to pour in to the parking lot after the event and add to the chaos. I pulled my car back in to the nearest spot I could find, getting out of the stopped line of cars where I'd sat with my engine off for 20-minutes.

I went into the Queen Mary for lunch and to wait. Traffic was jammed for 2-hours. I sat outside in view of the parking lot from an upper level vantage point and watched cars in every lane not moving. About 2:45, I headed to my car and got home around 4:00, exhausted and frustrated. I talked to the front desk of the Queen Mary hotel and explained I was willing to pay the $5 but unwilling to pay a higher parking fee simply because I was unable to get out of the parking lot in a timely fashion. My contact at the desk gave me a room key to get out of the parking lot for free. That was a nice gesture. No, it was not activated to unlock a room -- or I certainly would have gone in for a nap to wake up after this nightmare.

Another lady wrote this comment on Yelp. I appreciate the fact that I was not the only one wondering where the parking lot management was on Friday afternoon. From what she said, they made a killing at $15/car and I got wonderful understanding from the hotel staff by getting the room key to park for free. Here is what she wrote:

"Enjoyed watching the space shuttle about one hour later.   Time to go home.........then the nightmare begins. The parking lot was full.   I guess to be expected considering all the exhibits and the Space Shuttle.   Everyone seemed to be leaving at the same time.   Nobody thought in advance to collect the parking fee upon entering the lot.  What happened was what appeared to be thousands of people trying to leave the lot at the same time and having to pay on the way out.  This uncalled for traffic jam left all of us sitting in our cars for over one hour without moving at all.  A complete gridlock.   People were honking, yelling,  walking around just angry.   It took one hour before someone took control and had employees start directing traffic and collecting the parking fees way in advance of the gate.  I could only thank God that this were not an emergency situation.  I am also offended that after such a huge screwup on the part of parking management, they still insisted on collecting their $15.   Why didn't you just open the _ _ _ _  gates and let these people out? An extremely poor ending to a very nice day."