PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

I Believed Customer Service Had Died, Until the Last Leg.

I cannot believe it’s only Wednesday. I feel like I’ve been traveling for a week. I’m thoroughly exhausted, I’m out of sync with virtually everything, I still have birthday thank-yous to write, and I just want to sleep for an extended period of time, to wake up refreshed and discover it is Saturday. That would be sweet.

We left Kansas City on the 6:11 am flight with a connection in Detroit. My memory of that plane ride is a bit hazy, it could have been in part because we were in the very back row and the engine noise was so incredibly loud, I was pretty sure it had rearranged some fillings in my teeth.  We landed somewhere in the 20’s of Concourse A. Our connecting flight to White Plains was on Concourse C, Gate 35, supposedly leaving around 10:30. So off we trek, and even with moving sidewalks, it was a bit of a haul. Only to discover the plane we’re supposed to take has been hit by lightning. And our flight has been canceled.  The gate agent offered no solution, no recourse. When my boss asked about the next flight, she snapped, “Nine pm.” He told her that wasn’t acceptable, and so she found four seats on a flight going into LaGuardia, departing at 11:30. Which was better than 9 pm, but still would make our new business meeting a near impossibility. But we got the car reservation changed and then went to our new gate. Which would be Concourse A, Gate 77. The very end of the concourse we’d left. Sweet cheeks mary and no pockets of cheese, were my dogs a-barkin’ by the time we got to that flight. Because we were all in our “outfits” for the pitch, because even when the original flight was scheduled, we would be pressed for time. That flight was full, and miraculously, the package we checked actually followed us to LaGuardia, and we didn’t have to get a courier to retrieve it from White Plains.

So our plans went all to hell in a handbasket, and our prospective clients were so incredibly understanding, they rescheduled the meeting to the next day. I got to ride in a rental car through midtown Manhattan (I Plurk’d and Facebook updated throughout this journey, it was my entertainment), and my boss is a good driver & aggressive enough to handle the NYC traffic. To his credit, he even refrained from reading his Blackberry, something we all appreciated!  We had a different meeting in midtown, and I was reminded why I like NYC – the hustle and bustle, so much packed into tiny amounts of real estate. But my yarn stash and I could never, ever, call it home!

We got lost in Yonkers, just like the movie title, and eventually found our hotel. I’ll skip over the middle of Tuesday, just because everything went so well, and was such a fantastic experience for me, personally and professionally, that I simply can’t take the risk I’d jinx it somehow. It truly was a notable moment in my life and I enjoyed it immensely. And I will say that my background and NPR-listenin’ and funny dad stories all were natural fits. So. More on that, I do hope, just at another point in time. Right now I have to complete the travel circle.

I should point out that in KC, I got patted down. I don’t know if they thought my boobage or bellyage were secret weapons (of mass destruction?) or that my flowy clothing disguised some non-metallic item that they couldn’t wait to seize, but the TSA at MCI (KC) are nothin’ compared to the grouchy, over-the-top folks at the Westchester County Airport. The line was long, and one worker started yelling at all of us that there were TWO TABLES and to SHARE and KEEP THE LINE MOVING. Hi. Have to quibble with you, mate. When you STOP THE XRAY MACHINE to examine shit, shit piles up. When my jewelry sets off the sensor and I have to remove it, send it through the machine, and retrace my steps? It HOLDS UP THE LINE. It’s the way it works. Unless you’re going to open the other inspection post, we’re all sucking it up and lining up as best we can, so STFU with the angry, contradictory commands. And through all of this, I have a blinding headache, borderline migraine.  What else could happen? Well, newbie TSA boy scout has to inspect my luggage. Awesome. You know what it was?  A small bottle of talcum powder. I’d like to point out neither my jewelry, nor my powder tripped any alarms in Kansas City. And this airport is a darn sight smaller. You walk out to the tarmac and climb friggin’ ladder steps to get into the teensy plane.  In any event, I had purchased 4 Excederin and downed those as soon as my “inspection time” was completed. They finally kicked in and I was able to take off my sunglasses!

Our plane was delayed out of Westchester (after we’d boarded) and our area of the plane kept doing timetable calculations. We were going to KC, my seatmate was going to St. Louis, and the guy behind us was going to Milwaukee.  All of our connecting flights in Cleveland? Last flights out. And with the delays in NY, we would have (respectively) No minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes to make our connections. Sweetness. I was pretty sure we were going to be spending the night in Ohio. Fortunately, though, our flight to KC was delayed by two hours! And finally, I got some decent customer service – the gate agent moved my seat to guarantee I wouldn’t have a seatmate, even gave me a choice, and her co-worker chimed in to tell me which row was better. Bless them both, it was perfect.  I finished my book on the flight home, had a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, and walked in the house after midnight. The dogs and the Wo missed me, they all waited up for me, and James had made me a plate of fresh tomatoes and a couple pieces of cheese, since my dinner had been two tiny bags of mini pretzels, granola bars and a couple Ghiarardeli squares.

The meetings were fabulous, the travel could be improved. But some of my fears were unfounded – the small planes were just fine, and I fit in the seats, and my spinner suitcase is awesome. Except when you’re trying to climb up stairs!

5 Comments

  1. Despite the delays, things went well! Hallelujah!

  2. glad to hear it all went well. i, personally, believe you could hold a captive audience rather easily with your stories.

    i’m getting ready to head to vegas for work on sunday…wish us luck. 🙂

  3. I’m glad it wasn’t as nightmarish as it had the potential to be. You even managed a happy coincidence out of the deal!

    Welcome home!

  4. That is for sure a whirlwind of a trip! Glad you made it back safe and hopefully you’ll get some relaxing time this weekend.

  5. Traveling is the worst — customer service has gone downhill since there are so few airlines now that there isn’t as much competition. they can treat you like crap b/c you have no other option. Good to hear that your business meetings went well,though.

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