The other half

KODAK Digital Still CameraSo,  I was preparing to fly to Hawaii this morning (I just wanted to say that out loud) when I saw an e-mail from United Airlines (henceforth known as Death Star) saying my flight from Colorado Springs to Denver had been delayed,  causing me to miss my connecting flight to Honolulu, which was going to be — get this — first class. Which I have never experienced and, in a Cinderella way, wanted to.

Being a seasoned traveler — I’ve driven thousands of miles in my 2004 Forester — and terrific in a crisis, I immediately wet myself and then briefly considered calling my friend Pan. Pan actually is a seasoned traveler — her job, which takes her everywhere, is too important for me to understand — and procured The Ticket I Could Never Afford with a gadzillion frequent flyer miles.  But given the time difference, Pan was at that moment likely sleeping peacefully in the Waikiki hotel where she is presenting at a conference and where I was supposed to join her this afternoon.

So I took matters into my own hands, calling Death Star customer “service,” outlasting the automated phone labyrinth to connect with a living and helpless human being, who I proceeded to berate,  as if Death Star had actually empowered him to help rather than just placate me.  I knew better, of course — it had not — but I was nonetheless petulant and indignant  because I can be a butthole and maybe the whole first-class thing had gone to my economy-class head.

But Ahpu or Singh — being all entitled, I did not catch his name — did his best to reconfigure my itinerary, first flying me to LAX on something called a “bombadier,”  which I think requires a leather flying cap and goggles. A long layover, and then on to Oahu — first class, he said — arriving five hours later than planned (and well past my 8:30 bedtime).

On the one hand:  Damn.  On the other hand:  First World Problem.  And on the third hand — which is totally needed in such circumstances — shame on big corporations like Death Star for crapping out on promised service, leaving you to fix it and then expecting you to pay the same price for whatever they offer you in exchange.

tagThis has me thinking about corporations in general, and specifically about the quality of communication between these behemoths and their tiny, faceless customers.

To be fair, not every big company is as insensate as Death Star to the quality of consumer experience. For instance, I recently purchased a very fine bike handlebar bag; it came all the way from China.  It was a little, uh,  inexpensive, so I was apprehensive about the workmanship. But then I read the product tag:

“Each 1 new product, we personally trial,” it said. “A professional QC team, make 3 stringent quality control.”

Totally reassuring, right?

Anyway,  it’s time to put on my cap and goggles and start belatedly winging westward.  It’s not so bad, I guess:  Thanks to the Death Star delay,  the cats and hens got some morning exercise,  and Chloe the squirrel got her peanut breakfast.  And by the time you read this, I may be lounging on a tropical beach, or cavorting in an ocean I’ve not seen in far too long.

Or, if Ahpu-Singh got it wrong,  crammed in the bulkhead of a tiny regional jet bound for Peoria, with my knees tucked around my ears, having been karma-slapped back into my proper caste.

In which case, this is all any of us gets to see of Hawaii.  Aloha for now …

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14 comments

  1. slukwago · · Reply

    I loved this, Cate! So clever and funny, as usual! And I know you made it!

    Like

    1. I did, indeed! Thanks, Rafiki!

      Like

  2. Michele Sproull · · Reply

    The nerve of them! Squashing your 1st class dream and making you figure out what you pay them big bucks for. I’m sure you were way more composed than I would have been in that situation! Happy snorkeling.

    Like

  3. raemoline · · Reply

    You have such a way of being lighthearted. I can learn much from you!

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    1. What a kind thing to say, Rachel! Now on Maui, not Peoria. Lucky me!

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  4. happy holidays 🙂

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    1. Thanks, David!

      Like

  5. My first experience with first class was by far the most memorable. I was in the Navy, flying coach – if there had been steerage, I’d have been there – in my assigned seat on a redeye from San Francisco to Texas, in a near-empty plane. A flight attendant asked me if I’d like to move forward, so I thought sure, why not. I hadn’t a clue she meant to first class. Once there, she asked if I’d like some champagne, and of course I said yes. When in Rome… I read my book and sipped champagne for hours. Pleasant, to say the least! 30+ years later, no one else has ever invited me to first class, and the few times I’ve flown it were due to last-minute inexpensive upgrades. But what an evening!

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    1. Once is better than never. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post. Keep us up to date on the “reality” of your experience (Peoria or Honolulu!).

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    1. Each worthy in its own way. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  7. Ha! I do want to see you in your Amelia Earhart gear! Go with the wind!

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    1. Uncanny, Jane! I look just like that! 🙂 Love from LAX, fingers crossed ….

      Liked by 1 person

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