LA Is Stuck On ‘Default’

In the last several years or so, every Australian traveller flying to the US with Qantas (or a few other carriers) has been herded into an underground antechamber for ‘arrival formalities’. Everyone – first class to cattle, rich and poor, lagged or no – has waited for US Border Control to get their act together and process the queue already.
And without fail, every time, the LED displays above each passport control officer have been stuck on their power-up settings. Presumably, someone installed these for a reason, like displaying ‘Welcome to the US’ or ‘Visitors’ or ‘Have your passport ready’. You know, something useful.
But no, I have yet to see these LED signs say anything useful. And if you’re trapped in a smallish waiting room, without magazines or television to distract your attention, and without a mobile phone signal, with a bunch of cranky people who have just stepped off a 14 hour flight at 7am, you need more.
But, on this last trip, as a public service, I transcribed these sage lessons for the benefits of the viewers at home.
Here is what I learned about the LED System at LA International Airport on April 21, 2008.

introducing a new
state of the art
electronic display
wireless remote
dazzling color
simple operation
up to 27 characters can be displayed one at a time
(bar|bar|bar) (slot machine demonstration)
no smoking
(wineglass – a car crashes into it and a stick figure flies through the windscreen. this is my favorite bit)
please don’t drink and drive
create your own messages
thank you

It says a lot about US culture, actually.