The tale of how I met Mr. T. is one of my most favorite to tell. You see, before his flight came into United at LAX, Mr. T.’s limo driver pulled up in front of the terminal, parking in between the ticketing and baggage area (very smart position to cover all his bases, but dumb because he should have parked in the parking lot across the street.
The limo stuck out like a sore thumb…because it was solid gold in color! I saw the driver as he came into the building from the car and asked him to move it, but he breezed right by me saying he was there to get Mr. T. and the flight’s already late, he knows “T’s gonna be upset”. The driver was tall and pretty strong in his own right, almost as menacing as you would think Mr. T. would be.
The passengers from the flight were already coming down the long corridor from the 70’s gates area, and the driver stood right next to me without his sign up. I mean, after all, T was one of the most recognizable people in the world, and this was his private driver, so T knew who to look for. As the passengers started dwindling down, the driver got concerned that he may have missed Mr. T., upsetting him even more. He said, I’m going to go back to the car, and he went off toward ticketing to the closest exit. A few seconds later, Mr. T. comes down the corridor from the gates, visibly upset, with his carry-on luggage with him. In a most angry tone, he said to no one in particular, “Where the hell is my driver! He shoulda been here!” I told Mr. T. that his driver just left to check the limo, the driver thinking that he missed him. Without waiting for me to finish and tell him which way to go find him, Mr. T. went to his left, bumping me with his bag, heading for the same ticketing exit that the driver took not a minute earlier.
What happened next was right out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. There I was, standing at the junction of three corridors, one leading to the gates in front of me, the one to my left leading to baggage, the one to my right very close to ticketing. A couple of seconds later, the driver comes from baggage in a frenzy asking if I’d seen Mr. T., I told him he just went to the car, and off he went. Then a few seconds later, Mr. T. comes from baggage, even more upset, asking if I saw the driver. I said, “He just passed, looking for you at the lim..”, and before I could finish, Mr. T. goes towards ticketing.
And so it went for three or four times past me, one chasing the other in a cat and mouse game. Eventually, I caught Mr. T. and stood right in front of him, and before he could knock me over (or out!) I said, “I know you may want to run right over me or knock me out for this, but DON’T MOVE”. He looked at me real funny and real angry, as if saying to himself, “You gotta be some kinda fool, boy!”. I continued, “You and your limo driver have been running past me for several minutes now, and I promise you, if you just stay right here, he’ll come by in a second.” He looked at me real hard and said, “You better be right.” I said, if I am, I’d like you to pose for a picture, so I can tell my mom I met you.” He told me it was a deal. And about 45 seconds later, his driver shows up. T was so thrilled, he said, “You did real good, kid. From now on you can call me Larry, like my friends do.” (Mr. T.’s real name is Lawrence ‘Larry’ Tureaud .) That’s how I got the picture.