Having A Less-Than-Average Parking Experience: The Kids in the Hall Preshow Debacle

...And so, we went to see The Kids in the Hall.

Here's the lesson, and it's one that we almost learned the hard way. We knew enough when to leave Anaheim to go into L.A. to see a show on a Friday night. We figured on enough time to allow to arrive at our destination properly. Even with the more than likely appearance of the Evil Traffic Wizard, we would get to the show with plenty of time to spare.

What we didn't do was have even a small amount of cash on us for parking.

My friend, if you are going to travel to the far-distant land of Downtown L.A. to see a show at the Orpheum, make sure to at least have a couple of tenners on you. Or a handful of fives. If you are a guy who has a shameful need for a larger wad in your pocket to compensate for a small sense of purpose, a roll of ones. Something, so at least when you pull up to the Orpheum parking lot, you are able to plunk some bills into the attendant's hand so as to enable you to take a parking space.

Otherwise, you will have to do what we had to do: find an ATM machine after 7 p.m. in an area not exactly known for its financial health or area security.

We had each considered getting cash beforehand. Myself, I had thought about doing it thrice while at work. But we didn't. Trying to help, the attendant reeled off a couple of locations to us. The only one we even halfway heard was "9th and Figueroa". We were on 7th, so one would assume that 9th and Fig would be easy to find. Perhaps for someone used to driving in Downtown L.A. -- but we weren't. My time in the area had been spent around the L.A. Wilshire Grand Hotel, and except for venturing to the mall area across the street, I was hopeless in my knowledge of the surrounding avenues and their cousins. Besides, I don't drive at all, so I usually pay little attention to street names. Jen had spent zero time in the area, and so the question, once we reached 9th, of which way Figueroa lay was a 50-50 choice. And we chose wrong, since we never found the road, though we may have passed it.

The second problem was traffic patterns. Every time that we thought we were on the right track -- with the clock clicking slowly down to show time, now only 35 minutes away -- there would be a rush of turners in the lane where we ourselves needed to turn, or we would find a street, but it was one-way, and we were on the wrong side. On and on this went, with our frustrations mounting to a fever pitch. We each had one eye on the clock and one on the road, and we began worrying about even seeing the show, figuring that by the time we actually found a magical supply of cash, we would end up parking miles from the venue.

On one of these passes where we were on the wrong side of the street, we saw a Union Bank of California with a pair of handy ATMs in front, right next to a bus stop. But we were forced to turn, and as we attempted a loop to the rather safe-looking area (also another problem on some very suspect streets), I saw a Rite-Aid on a corner. Because I had one of those behind-the-eyes headaches that often spring up in these situations and we were ibuprofen-free, I thought "well, I can go in, buy some medicinals, get cash back on my card, and we will be scot-free instead." A fine plan, except for three hitches: 1) there were no parking spaces, so Jen dropped me off and then tried to loop the several blocks to get back around to pick me up, 2) the store had closed at 7, but the lights were on and people were moving about inside so one could not tell that easily from the street (there was no CLOSED sign either), and 3) I didn't have my phone on me so I could call Jen and tell her that.

And then I attempted what could have been a foolhardy move. I had seen an ATM sign at a jewelry store at the other end of the block, so because I move faster walking than many people run, I figured I could hit it and get back before Jen had circled. The store, of course, had also just closed, mere minutes before from the looks of the clerks inside, and I zipped back to the agreed upon pickup spot. Suddenly, I became the fast-walking white guy in a neighborhood of unfamiliar social status, and to anyone not familiar with my speed of movement, I perhaps seemed outwardly a bit nervous and anxious to exit the terrain. Naturally, I will admit that I was noticed by just about everyone, including a group of teenagers in a pickup, who decided to mess with me and yell a series of harmless epithets regarding my lack of skin color in my direction as they sped past. Finally, as I reached the corner, Jen had to pull out of the spot she had just found as there were people wishing to park, and she is a generous soul. I watched her fly off as my feet found the corner, and I had to wait another five minutes for her to circle around again.

And then there was the GPS. Our Global Positioning System works just fine, and we have used it on several trips now. Of course, we knew how to get to LA, but finding the Orpheum Theatre was another matter for us. The GPS allowed us to find it without a problem, but once we took off on our ATM quest, the machine all but put a gun to its head as it became completely confused as to why we didn't stop after it had told us we had arrived at our destination. We were looking for 9th and Figueroa, of course, and the problem with the GPS is that it is designed for exact locations, not corners. I could only punch in one of the streets, but it kept asking me for a street number, which I could not provide in the least. I finally faked one and then tried to expand the map to see the surrounding streets, but that method really was a dead end, since most of the street names do not show up on the GPS. The streets just kept more and more orange as its trail kept tracking over itself, and I finally threw the device to the ground.

Just as we were approaching exhaustion over our frustration in locating a machine, we stumbled, with about ten minutes left until the show, on the Union Bank that we had passed earlier. And then we almost got sucked into a traffic vortex once more, but Jen pulled a quick move to shoot us across the lane and then to a rest in front of what appeared to me as ATM Paradise. Two banks, several machines -- choices, glorious choices at last. I sped to the nearest and least populated machine and finally made my withdrawal. We then moved as quickly as possible back to the theatre, and ending up at the third lot a couple of streets behind the Orpheum just before 8 o'clock. I have never been so happy to hand ten dollars over to a parking attendant.

And in a bubbly, chirping mass of fellow Kids in the Hall fans, all in pleasant moods despite also being exactly as late to the show as ourselves, we made our way to the Orpheum. Only, when we got there, we found our tardiness didn't matter. A line of ticketholders stretched about a hundred yards down the street as we discovered that the Orpheum may be a beautiful, old theatre inside, but it is really poorly designed for letting crowds into shows (or letting them out, for that matter.) The next ten minutes became a nervously slow crawl into and through the Orpheum, up several series of stairs, all completely packed with and pushing against people I really had no outward desire to rub body parts with (well, some of them were just fine for that purpose, but I digress...)

But it wasn't as bad as we had just had it. Sure, it may have been sweaty bedlam inside the Orpheum, but after practically being lost on the streets of LA for over an hour, searching for the proverbial needle in the stack of heroin addicts, a little pansexual, preshow frottage was absolutely no problem at all. After all, it was the motherfuckin' Kids in the Hall...

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