That day in 1981 when I first saw him deftly weighing the golden fertility statue against a bag of sand, Indiana Jones became my movie hero of choice. And Harrison Ford became my favorite actor.
Whenever he released a film I was first in line for tickets. I even tried to like Frantic. During those late night coffee shop doldrums, when young men expound upon their top tens, desert island discs, and last man on earth scenarios, my consistent choice of celebrity to meet was always Harrison Ford.
However, I imagined that if I ever really did meet the world’s greatest action hero, the only possible scenario I could imagine would include an awkward, “I’m yer biggest fan” and the moment would be not worth having.
But one hot January evening in 2006, Harrison Ford and I did cross paths – and it was just right.
I was working as a production assistant for the 63rd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. It was my job to stand at the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica and grant permission to the select few delivery trucks, VIPs and limos that needed access to the stage door of the world-famous awards show venue.
The best part of my position was the power I held. There were around a dozen LAPD, Beverly Hills PD, and Beverly Hills Traffic Patrol officers along with another six private security guards dressed in tuxes, and they were all at my command.
When a vehicle pulled up along Wilshire seeking access, the uniformed officers would look to me for clearance. If the driver or passenger was on my list or cleared via radio communication with the command center inside the hotel, I would give the signal for the officers to move barricades and let them turn right onto Santa Monica into the secure hotel perimeter. If clearance was not granted, my little army would flex their muscle and wave the vehicle on.
Here’s the rub. Most of the vehicles that approached did in fact have clearance. However, due to some some aggravating factors – limited dock and driveway space, extensive post-911 security, and a newly elected Governator in attendance – they were only allowed access during brief, preset windows of time. If someone arrived before their time slot to pick up camera equipment or deliver a cake for the after party, for instance, they couldn’t block traffic. They had to keep driving.
The previous year, I sent Leonard DiCaprio and Naomi Watts around even thought they insisted they needed to be on stage “in five minutes!”
This was really bad news for a denied driver because, as all Angelenos know, awards show traffic is horrendous. Being denied access meant up to forty more minutes of traffic for the driver. Even if their time slot is just two minutes away, they still gotta go around. Drivers got pretty angry at me for that, but with the boys and girls in blue backing me up, all they could do was drive away bitterly beaten.
It’s under these circumstances that my little story (finally) takes shape.
After the red carpet pre-show ended, the actual ceremony began. With all the star power safely inside the ballroom, hundreds of workers descended upon the hotel’s entrance to tear down all traces of the pre-event festivities. The process is designed to be a seamless progression so that unionized teams of bleacher builders, tent poppers, carpet rollers, cable wrappers and camera operators don’t make war. And I was there to grant them access.
Just then a convoy of carpet trucks began rolling up to my spot on the corner. Carpet gets pulled up last so they weren’t welcome for another hour. One by one I sent them around into traffic oblivion. Just as I was about to reject the fifth carpet truck, their boss came running to my post from inside the hotel, out of breath and begging me to let his trucks in.
The guy was angry with the system and persistent with me. My cop brigade watched me closely for a signal of which way I’d go. The traffic light changed from red to green and back to red as Mr. Carpet tried to wear me down. I radioed the command center once more to see if we could help him out. But the show had started, and they weren’t answering.
As I waited anxiously for word, traffic behind the truck backed up heavily. A few timid honks sounded from the crush of town cars and pizza delivery trucks. It’s not nice to honk at the LAPD, but the natives were getting restless.
Suddenly, the rear passenger door of the first town car flew open. A tuxedoed man with a grey goatee and an earring rushed at me. It took only a second to recognized him. Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard, Dr. Richard Kimball, Jack Ryan and Han Solo were all barreling toward me, an angry finger stabbing the air. I was terrified.
“WHY IS THIS TRUCK JUST SITTING HERE?!” he growled.
“IT’S MOVING NOW!!” I shouted to the driver, the cops, the carpet boss and every motorist within a quarter mile. My faithful coppers all stepped hard toward the truck and the driver got the picture. Against all hope, he released the clutch and began his long drive around.
Harrison Ford turned back to his car, muttering frustrated thanks to me or whoever he’d been praying to.
I put my hand in the open car window and jogged alongside, escorting it to the bomb squad check point. I gave the driver directions to the stage door, then looked into the back seat one more time. The scruffy-looking passenger nodded to me in thanks.
Whenever I imagined meeting a hero, I guess I thought it would be a little bit cool and a whole lot of awkward.
It couldn’t have been better.
This post was originally written and posted the day after the Golden Globes adventure on January 17, 2017 at thechindo.blogspot.com
To experience what I experienced and see more of Harrison Ford’s angry points check out this segment from Conan.