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Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Chance of a Lifetime

By Clifford Rothband

Take a deep breath and put a smile on your face, let's make today a great day. I read that somewhere.

It was the summer Olympics of 1984. My wife and daughter [age 12] wanted so bad to see the panda's in Los Angeles Zoo.

I was between jobs and we scrimped and saved and booked a flight for the three of us, reserved a car, had lodging set up. If we had any extra money we would buy a Lucky Gold Panda coin.

Our flight took off from Ft. Lauderdale on time, we got to LA around midnight. We got our luggage and went to the car rental company. "Sorry but we have no more cars available.”

What! We went to all the counters and finally got a company that rented us a two-door, dark grey Oldsmobile. That color upset my daughter but it was brand new a car.

Now we ride to our hotel.

"Sorry but no rooms available until the next afternoon.” What! We ask about the pandas at the zoo and the clerk says that she thinks that they are in San Diego, not Los Angeles, so I figure our clocks are off so we set out on the Freeway south.

Almost there and a billboard reads Pandas at the Los Angeles Zoo." What! So we start back and I am too tired to drive anymore so we stop on Muscle Beach figuring we can get some sleep.

My daughter says, "How cool.” Until a glass bottle shatters the windshield and wakes us up. So off we start again.

The wife sees a bright, florescent-lit motel off the freeway and we pull in. I ask for a room for three, the clerk answers, "All rooms one bed. How many hours you want.” What! So I say until the morning.

Now, as we walk to the room, this monster soldier comes up. "Hey Mon, you got two ladies, you want to share?" What!

I hustle my two girls to the room under my arms, We plop down and are asleep in minutes. Around 9AM, there are six eyes looking at a mirrored ceilingL chains, a swing and straps are hanging. What is this a sex motel? It was a good thing that I didn't put the TV on.

My daughter said, "How Cool,” my wife told me to never tell a soul. It was better than any movie dilemma or TV situation ever since we have been laughing at it since.

But I never told anyone until now.

So now it is about 9AM, we grab a Mickey D breakfast to eat in the car, off to the zoo. No, a sign reads the zoo exhibit doesn't open for another two hours! WHAT!

So we squat down and this friendly zoo lady walks up to talk and so we tell our tale.

She says don't tell anyone ever, but follow her. She is in charge of the panda exhibit and they have a special group going in early. Just act like your with them, she says.

So my daughter and wife and I act like junior counselors and the two girls get to hold the pandas for pictures.

Whoever would have guessed such a bad trip would lead to a chance of a lifetime.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh, my goodness, Clifford, what a story! It's so funny how the craziest of situations sometimes lead to such great moments. It's wonderful that you wrote this memory down, future generations in your family will love to read it. It's so important to make sure our memories and experiences are preserved in one way or another; be it through journaling, scrapbooking, or interviewing to add to our family histories. Keep writing and remembering and sharing!


This is a hilarious story, thank you, Clifford! We did it in reverse, flew from San Diego to Orlando, FL. We were in a motel in Savannah GA with barbed wire around the car lot. Scary.

laughing out loud funny - thanks!

Now that was one of the worst trips ever...with the best ending every.

This is definitely an interpretation of dark cloud with a silver lining. I felt the joy at the end. It's why we tell the stories. Thanks!

Wonderful, OMG! What a great story.

That was so funny. Glad it turned out good for you in the long run. Keeps your faith in humanity after that weirdo at the hotel!

Making the best of every situation is a great way to live and influence everyone around you. You put a smile on our faces. I can't believe you kept this to yourself for so long.

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