[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
united: we suck harder.
you just knew there had to be a travel story. maybe i was asking for it with my crack about them confiscating my baked goods to use as an in-flight snack. i don't know.
my trip to atlanta was great…once i actually got to atlanta. but the whole “getting-there” part was a nightmare. and i do not exaggerate. it challenged all boundaries of logic. it flew in the face of any customer service conventions known to humankind. not to mention the desecration of all that is good about baked goods. it sucked. hard.
friday, december 13th
1:30 pm – i arrive to find that my 3:40 flight has been delayed until 4:40. am starving, so i head to the there’s-one-in-every-airport tgifriday’s.
1:40 pm – asshole next to me at the there’s-one-in-every-airport tgifriday’s complains that cnn is “boring” and asks them to change the channel. they do. to the bold and the beautiful.
1:45 pm – first ultimate margarita arrives. chug in an effort to forget that i'm watching the bold and the beautiful.
3:30 pm – leave for gate. notice that board at bottom of escalator shows that my flight is cancelled. as in not going. as in shit.
3:40 pm – arrive at gate to see that board says that my flight is leaving at 4:40. am confused, but consider that this may be a result of the three ultimate margaritas. approach gate agent. as i near the counter, they announce that my flight is, officially, cancelled. mass hysteria ensues and everyone in the greater metropolitan dc area begins to push and shove toward the gate agent desk. or maybe it just seemed that way. again: three ultimate margaritas.
4:00 pm – speak with gate agent who informs me that they – united airlines – are canceling all of their flights from dc to atlanta for the rest of the day, due to weather problems.
“all of them?”
“but, what if it stops raining in an hour? why would you cancel all of them now? it’s only 4:00. it could stop raining.”
“they’re all cancelled.”
“so, what are my options here?”
“i can put you on our 7:00 flight to chicago. then, you can get a flight out of chicago into atlanta. you should get there around 11:30 tonight.”
“i can send you from here to chicago, then we have a flight out of chicago to atlanta later tonight.”
“wait…the weather problem that’s canceling the flights…it’s not here, right? i mean, all the other flights from here are still going, just not to atlanta. right?”
“so, the weather problem is in atlanta. right?”
“i'm sorry, i'm confused. why would i want to go to chicago to wait on a flight to atlanta if the weather problem is in atlanta? i'd really rather not sleep on the floor at o’hare. i’m just not sure i understand how sending me to chicago really helps me here.”
at this point, i hear another gate agent telling the passenger beside me that he can put her on an 8:00 delta flight to atlanta, which is still scheduled to depart on time.
“okay, that’s what i want to do…i would like for you to put me on the 8:00 delta flight to atlanta, please.”
there is much typing, and then the gate agent hands me my boarding pass.
“you’re all set. gate d7.”
“thanks, have a good evening.”
i head off down the terminal knowing that there’s no guarantee that my 8:00 flight will actually go, but, at least i’m not heading to…wait a minute. i look at my boarding pass. chicago o’hare.
i head back to the gate and walk directly up to the gate agent as the angry mob waiting in line suggests new and exciting ways to dismember me.
“hi, remember me?”
“yes, hi. uh, i asked you to put me on the 8:00 delta flight to atlanta. but, you ticketed me for the flight to chicago.”
“oh, yeah. i don’t know how to do that thing where you put someone on another airline.”
“maybe you wanted to mention that to me?”
“you can go talk to that guy over there…see that line?”
i go wait in the line. and wait. and wait.
finally, it’s my turn. i explain the situation and hand him my boarding pass, asking that he put me on the 8:00 delta filght.
“hmmm…i can’t do that.”
“because you didn’t pay full price for your ticket. you got a discounted fare. so, we don’t do that for you.”
“who pays full price for an airline ticket?!”
“i mean, it’s not like you told me it was $20 and i tried to put one over on you and only give you $15…i paid exactly what the fare said.”
“yeah, but we don’t do that for you.”
“what do you do for me?”
“put you on the first flight out tomorrow. there’s one at 7:25 and one at 8:40.”
“fine. 7:25 please.”
there is much typing and then the gate agent picks up a ballpoint pen, crosses through “chicago o’hare” and scrawls “atlanta 7:25 t11” on my boarding pass.
“here you go.”
“you’re all set.”
“are they going to accept this at the security gate? i mean, this doesn’t exactly look official.”
“shouldn’t be a problem.”
“right. okay…what about my bag.”
“oh, it’s checked.”
“right…where do i pick it up?”
“no, i mean, now.”
“well, it’s checked. you can pick it up tomorrow. i mean, if you really want it now, we’d have to find it. what does it look like?”
“it’s black. it’s black, with wheels and a handle.”
“just like every other suitcase in the world, okay, know what? as long as you say that my bag is going on my flight with me, i’ll just trust you and i’ll figure something out for tonight.”
“yeah, it’ll be on your flight tomorrow. federal regulations state that it has to be on the same flight you are, so it’ll be on your flight with you tomorrow.”
5:05 pm – pay my $15 for parking. head to beltway to sit for two hours in friday rush hour traffic. last remnants of ultimate margarita buzz are destroyed. curse loudly.
saturday, december 14th
6:30 am – ballpoint-pen-scrawled “boarding pass” breezes through security with nary a question.
6:40 am – arrive at gate to learn that my 7:25 flight is delayed until 8:40. notice immediately that the regularly scheduled 8:40 flight to atlanta is still scheduled to leave at 8:40. from the same gate. in my head, i try and figure out the logistics of two airplanes leaving from the same gate for the same destination at precisely the same time. seems far too much like one of those fifth grade word problems ["if a train leaves chicago traveling at 80 miles per hour..."], which i was never able to comprehend. consider approaching gate agent for guidance. however, there is no gate agent.
7:00 am – gate agent arrives. i approach.
“hi, i was supposed to fly out yesterday, but my flight was cancelled. i have this boarding pass for the 7:25 flight that’s been delayed till 8:40.”
she examines my ballpoint-pen-scrawled “boarding pass” and begins to type.
“hmmm? that doesn’t sound very good.”
“well, there’s a problem.”
“color me shocked.”
“the computer says your ticket has already been used.”
“well, it’s just that the computer says your ticket was used.”
“so, i’m in atlanta right now?”
“i’ll have to have a supervisor look into this.”
“okay, great, let’s call a supervisor.”
“she doesn’t get here until 8:00.”
i sit down in the boarding area to wait for some word on my boarding pass. after a while, my flight is delayed again, until 9:05. however, the 8:40 flight is still leaving on time. am now very confused. stupidly approach the gate agent, as though they will be able to explain.
“hi there. i was hoping you could help me. i noticed that my flight is now delayed until 9:05.”
“yeah, the crew isn’t here.”
“are they delayed somewhere else?”
“no, they’re not flying in from anywhere else. they’re just not here.”
i decide not to even bother pursuing this issue.
“okay, well, i’d like to fly stand-by on the 8:40 flight.”
“okay, can i have your boarding pass?”
“you have my boarding pass. remember?”
“i’m the one who is 'already in atlanta.'”
“oh, right. okay, well, just give me your last name.”
“oh…did you check a bag?”
“well, you can’t fly standby then. if you check a bag, you can’t fly standby. federal regulations state that your luggage has to go on the same flight that you go on.”
“but, my luggage can go on the 8:40 flight. you would just have to locate it. there’s a barcode on the tag you guys put on it, you can track it, right?”
“well, you can use those to track bags, but we don’t do that.”
[my head explodes]
“can you just let me know when your supervisor gets here?”
8:10 am – a miracle. as they are boarding the 8:40 flight, they call my name. i grab the boarding pass and tear off down the jetway before they have a chance to call me back.
once i arrive in atlanta, more than 16 hours after my scheduled arrival, i head to the baggage claim area.
let me just say this: i was absolutely, positively not expecting my bag to arrive.
i was not disappointed.
i resigned myself to the fact that i would have to wait for the “7:25 flight” to arrive. and that wasn’t happening until 11:20 now. but, you know, thank god i caught the earlier flight, so i could spend quality time at the airport baggage claim area. finally, my “real” flight arrives and the bags begin tumbling onto the carousel.
but, mine is not there.
nowhere to be found.
at this point, i am not even surprised. i am actually pretty calm about it. i head into the baggage claim service office and take my place in line behind a very nice couple whose bags are also somewhere else. the gentleman working the counter is commiserating with them.
“i don’t know what these people are doing, i swear! that last flight was half-full of luggage that was supposed to be going to cancun! it’s just nutty!”
nutty. well, there you go, people. it’s just nutty. sure, i have no clean underwear. no toothbrush. but, it’s all just nutty.
as i desperately search for anything else to look at so as to not burn him with the laser beams coming out of my eyes, i see it.
outside the office.
i run to it and grab the tag – sure enough, it is my bag! the tag indicates that it arrived about 3:30 am. from chicago o’hare.
so much for federal regulations.
i’m so elated to see the bag that we head out of the airport before anyone can stop me.
once at my destination, i open my luggage to retrieve my baked goods so i can gift my friends with the homemade goodness.
i see the poundcakes that had been packed in the translucent container – safe, sound and oh-so-yummy looking.
i then retrieve the other two containers from my suitcase and open them.
the containers look as if something exploded inside them.
the cupcakes have had their festive paper sleeves removed and appear to have been gouged repeatedly with some sort of stick.
the devil’s food cakes are simply crumbs. and there is one, sad, lonely, impaled de-sleeved cupcake sitting atop the heaping mound of chocolately good remains.
i am stunned.
at first, i think that this must have been some freakish act of physics. undue air pressure exerted on baked goods, yielding destruction. but, that doesn’t explain the pristine poundcakes. or the single cupcake magically transported to the devil’s food cake mound.
my only guess is that my bag arrived at 3:30 am with my name on it. and, with my name not appearing on the passenger list anywhere, it must have been classified as “suspicious.” the bag was, summarily searched, and the “suspicious” baked goods summarily destroyed. then, the containers were carefully placed back in the suitcase, with no indication that the bag had ever been searched at all.
suddenly, i find myself not so troubled that united airlines is experiencing financial difficulties. does this make me a bad person?
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