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  • Paul Davidson

How The Movie “The Terminal” And My Experience Being Trapped In A Parking Garage Are Sor

Stephen Spielberg’s latest “not number one at the movies but still OK” film The Terminal hit theaters last week to average buzz and polite reviews and stars our good friends Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas. In it, Hanks plays a foreigner who must live in the NYC airport after being denied return passage to his home country.

Would you believe the same exact thing happened to me? Sort of?

I was visiting The Beverly Center here in Los Angeles a few years back on an afternoon that is now referred to as “the afternoon that incident happened” although on the day in question it was referred to as “just an ordinary everyday afternoon that happened to include a trip to The Beverly Center.” My goal in heading over there was to pick up some gym equipment in an attempt to cause my biceps, chest and lat muscles to bulge with strengh and excitement.

I parked my car in the massive parking structure and waited forever for the elevator (which seriously, takes forever) to arrive. Once inside, I rode it up past the 5th and 6th floor levels of the mall and got out on the 7th. Once there, I visited a sporting goods store. Once inside, I purchased two forty pound dumbells, a chin-up bar and these cool push up things (you put them on the ground, each hand grips one of them, and this keeps you up above the ground so you can do push ups that let you DIP more). I took my items and went back to the elevators.

My arms were starting to get tired during the wait. In fact, I had a fourty pound dumbell in each hand. Slung across each shoulder was a bag – one with an awkward long metal chin-up bar and the other with these swinging push-up things. I put down everything while I waited for the elevator to arrive.

Eventually, the elevator arrived and I picked up my items once again (my shoulders were starting to ache in pain as I had to suspend all this weight from them) and shoved myself into the middle of a crowded elevator. There, I stood, packed in as the elevator stopped at every single floor. At this point, my arms were about to rip themselves out of the socket they hurt so damn bad.

Someone next to me looked at me with confusion and I quietly tried to think of “my happy place” while my tendons were hanging on for dear life as the 100+ pounds of equipment let gravity do its thang.

Sooner or later (I forget when it was due to the hallucinations from the pain), I got out on my floor in the parking garage and moved towards my car. Just a few more feet, I thought to myself — then I can put all these damn things in the trunk and be on my way. My arms were killing me.

And my car wasn’t where I’d left it.

There are many stages of your car going missing. First is the stage of surprise: “Wow. Where’s my car?” Then comes the second stage. The stage of worry: “Holy shit. Somebody stole my car!!” Then, the third stage…disbelief: “No. No way. There’s no way somebody stole my car.”

And finally, the fourth stage. One I like to call the stage of stupidity: “Did I park on this level?”

The problem was, I had bags of heavy (brand-new) items that only allowed me to travel for a few feet before having to set them down. At this point, my arms were in so much pain from carrying the dumbells and other equipment that I could only take a few steps in either direction (with my items) to see if I could find my car. I would place them down at my feet, move in one direction while continuing to keep my eye on my stuff so no one would steal it, then back to the equipment and off in another direction.

My car was nowhere on this level.

I picked up my items with much screaming and pain and made my way over to the elevators. The buttons were pressed and no elevator was coming. I looked to the far end of the level, there was a stairwell that I could possibly take up to the next level and hopefully find my car there. I bit my lip, picked up my items and made it about ten steps before I had to stop.

I was a prisoner of my own fitness.

Eventually, I picked up the emergency phone and called for help. You know the guys. Driving around in their pseudo-security vehicles. There to, well, drive around in their pseudo-security vehicles. My savior, Butch, was a bit confused at the scenario before him.

Butch: “You what?”

Me: “Forgot what level I parked my car on. It may be five, but it definitely isn’t four.”

Butch: “So, go up to five and look. What do you need me for?”

I looked down at the items on the ground. Butch crooked his neck to see all the workout equipment.

Butch: “Yeah, so?”

Me: “I can’t lift any of it. At least, not anymore.”

To this day, I’m not sure if Butch was angry or frustrated out of having to be Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas to my Tom Hanks, but I do know that I’ll never forget his last line to me just as he dropped me and my equipment off at my car.

Butch: “Hey, good luck with that working out thing.”

Good luck, indeed.

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