There were only two of us riding the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the airport. We sat in silence, not really regarding each other until we hit traffic. Predicably, the rain was rendering things unnecessarily chaotic out on the roads.
"Did I hear you say you were going to terminal 5?" the man asked me.
"That's a shame. Was hoping we could take the shortcut."
The greater Los Angeles airport is in the shape of a horseshoe. You go in on one side, pass by each terminal sequentially and exit the other side. Ideally, the left lanes are supposed to flow allowing cars to quickly get to their terminal. This being LA, the ideal is usually never achieved so the horseshoe seems to be congested an awful lot.
There is one remedy for the airport's traffic and that is a cut through connecting terminals 2 and 5. It's a mercifully brilliant feature that has saved the sanity of many a frenzied traveler. The thng is that you only get one shot at it because once you've passed it by, you are commited to traveling the entire horseshoe.
It became obvious what this guy was getting at. He was doing that airport math when you're running late for a flight where you calculate every possible second to in order guess just how completely screwed you are. The man looked slightly pale and leaned forward in his seat, unable to relax in the slightest. He must have been running very late.
My head had been burried in my Blackberry so when I looked up, I couldn't tell where we were in the shoe because of the cars on every side of the shuttle. So I asked the driver if we had passed the shortcut. He said that we had not. I instructed the driver to drop me off. I'd walk the 100 yards to my terminal so he could attempt to get this guy to his plane on time. It would mean the driver would have to very quickly make his way across four crowded lanes, but hwhat sired me that he could do it.
"Good luck," I said to the stranger as I grabbed my stuff and hopped off the bus.
As I watched them drive off, I hoped to myself that he would make it.