Sunday, February 24, 2008

a conversation at a party

Edna: Your roommate is always on the prowl.

Herbert: What do you mean?

Edna: He's always looking for new girls to flirt with.

Herbert: Oh, that's true. After institute he tries to get dates with random girls.

Edna: Tries?

Herbert: Well, the last few girls he's talked to have all turned out to be lawyers.

Cindy's roommate: What's wrong with lawyers, Cindy wants to know.

Cindy: Yeah, what exactly did you mean by that?

Herbert: Oh, well they just don't have time to date because they're lawyers.

Mabel: I'll have to start using that approach too. "Why did you think I was studying music, George? I'm totally a lawyer. But otherwise I would go out with you."

Cindy: This may explain some things.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

nipping it in the bud

Last night I dreamed that people kept mailing me drugs to help me get over my crack addiction. I was worried in the dream about what I was going to do with all the drugs without getting my friends in trouble for mailing them to me.

Also, I couldn't figure out why everyone thought I used crack. Just because I've mentioned it a time or two on this blog does not mean that I'm a user. I'd just like to take this opportunity to state for the record that I do not use crack, I've never used crack, and I don't plan on taking up the habit in the future. So please, stop mailing me drugs, everyone. Thanks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

a deep dark secret

I always find it hard to play those get-to-know-you games where you have to come up with a fact about you that other people don't know. I don't really have that many deep dark secrets, nor would I want to share them in a game if I did. (I'll parenthetically note here how uncomfortable it was when a girl in one of my law classes used "my father is having an affair" as one of her truths in Two Truths and a Lie.)

But today, I thought of a deep dark secret that I'd like to share with you, my blog readers, because you're so special to me. So here it is: I was actually afraid of the floating green translucent special effects snakes in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze when I watched that movie as a kid.

Sure, I made fun of them with the rest of my family, but deep down inside, I actually found them scary. Yes, the special effects were really bad, and yes, such magical translucent floating green snakes probably don't exist -- but what if they do? For about a year after watching that movie, I was afraid to be in a locked room by myself. (It's true that the snakes seemed to magically be able to lock rooms that hadn't been locked in the first place, but I still felt more safe without the door locked.) Fortunately, my bedroom had the swamp cooler in it, and I knew from the movie that the best way to defeat the creepy translucent floating green snakes was with a fan or other wind-making device. So I planned out in my head how I would run over to the swamp cooler and turn it on if I got attacked by the magical floating green snakes, and that gave me some peace of mind.

Well, I feel much better now that I've gotten that off my chest. I've been hiding that shameful secret for years.

Now I'll have to think of something else to mention the next time I play one of those games.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

a conversation with the Old Person

Old Person: I don't like flying. It's too scary.

Me: When's the last time you flew?

Old Person: Oh, about sixty years ago.

Me: Wait, did you say sixty?

Old Person: Yeah, it must be sixty. I was pregnant with my son Joe at the time, and it's his sixtieth birthday this month. My husband liked flying, so he took me up on a little four-seater plane. It was really bumpy, and I got sick. It was a scary experience, and I haven't flown since then.

Me: Have you ever flown on a jet plane?

Old Person: No, and I don't need to. Maybe it would be kind of different from the little plane, but I don't need to go anywhere by plane, and I already know that flying is scary.

foredoomed to fail

In the course of one day of (attempted) air travel, my fellow passengers and I experienced the following inconveniences:

  • weather delays;

  • a computer problem that caused every Delta employee and every person in the airport, with the exception of the gate agent and the flight crew, to believe that our flight was leaving at 3:30 rather than at 2:30, when it actually left;

  • gate agents who refused to reopen the gate or tell the pilot about the computer problem "because of FAA regulations," even though the plane hadn't moved and it was the computer glitch that caused people not to be in the boarding area;

  • a flight that was allowed to take off with luggage belonging to passengers who hadn't made it onto the flight, in spite of FAA regulations;

  • a several-hour wait for the next flight;

  • more delays;

  • flight information that disappeared from the screens throughout the terminal and in the boarding area more than an hour before boarding began, causing several passengers to fear that they had somehow missed this flight as well;

  • a paranoid passenger freaking out because there were some Middle Eastern men on board

  • seat changes for "security reasons"

  • a lengthy de-icing process;

  • knocking in the engine;

  • an engine de-icing and testing process that took an hour and a half, even though we'd been told that we couldn't leave the boarding area because it would take only 20 or 30 mintues;

  • the sound of an alarm going off a few minutes after take-off;

  • the smell of smoke in the cabin area;

  • the sight of a flight attendant sprinting down the aisle with a worried look on her face;

  • an emergency landing that took a really long time, apparently because they had to get fire trucks into place first;

  • gate agents who had no idea what was going on or when we'd ever be able to make it to Oklahoma City;

  • after 12 or more hours in the airport, a return to our own homes if we lived in Salt Lake City or an uncomfortable night in the airport if we didn't.

Other notes:

One passenger received an email and a phone call from Delta telling him that the flight had been pushed back until 3:30, and when he checked in at the curb at 2:00 or so, they told him that his flight was leaving at 3:30. The gate area was crammed with people, due to the weather delays earlier in the day, so he decided to wait in the lounge until closer to the departure time. And then the plane left without him, but with his luggage.

Another passenger apparently was actually in the gate area and still missed the flight. Around 2:15 or so (if I understood her story correctly), she asked the gate agent if this was the correct gate for Oklahoma City. The gate agent said it was, so the passenger found a seat nearby to wait for departure. About an hour later, she began wondering when they were going to board the flight. She asked at the gate, and the agent said, "Oh, well that flight already left. You missed it." The passenger pointed out that the gate agent knew that she was on that flight and that she hadn't left the general gate area, so the agent obviously hadn't tried very hard to announce the departure. The gate agent refused to care.

After our second deplaning procedure on the second flight, the gate agents told us that we definitely wouldn't be leaving that night and they didn't know what would happen with rescheduling. They said the morning flight was booked, but ExpressJet might book an extra flight in the morning to take care of all of us. However, if this happened, it wouldn't happen until 3 or 4 in the morning, so they couldn't tell us anything at this point (around 1:30 am). When I called at 6 in the morning to find out what was happening, the Delta employees I talked to thought I was making up all this stuff about ExpressJet maybe scheduling an extra morning flight. They said that the next available flight was the 7:30 pm flight that night, so they booked me on that flight. However, it turns out that at one point an extra morning flight was indeed scheduled, for 8:15 am. One guy who had paid for a hotel room that night apparently went back to the airport for the 8:15 flight, only to discover that it had been canceled. Another passenger, somewhat luckier, got woken up by a phone call from Delta at 5 in the morning to tell him that the 8:15 flight had been canceled. So, the flight was apparently booked and then canceled before I called at 6. They evidently cited "crew problems" as the reason for the cancellation. I'm not sure what kind of crew problems arose between 4 and 5 in the morning, but whatever.

Of course, the people who were just in Salt Lake on connecting flights had a much worse time of it than the Salt Lake residents did. One guy was flying from Boise to Oklahoma City and ended up getting stuck in Salt Lake for 36 hours because of Delta's incompetence and ExpressJet's smoking engines. In exchange for all of this inconvenience, Delta very graciously offered him a $7 food voucher. That's right -- one $7 food voucher to make up for a 36-hour layover. Supposedly, Delta has a quota for hotel vouchers every night, and they'd already canceled too many flights before canceling our flight at 1:30 in the morning. They did helpfully volunteer to bring some little airplane pillows and blankets out so that people could sleep in the terminal, although of course they wouldn't be allowed back in the terminal if they wanted to fetch their luggage so they could brush their teeth or something.

Delta basically refused to take any responsibility for any of this because it was an ExpressJet crew and plane. Well, here's the thing, Delta -- it was your company we paid money to, and it was your name on our tickets, and it was your ticket agents and gate agents we had to deal with. So don't try to shirk all responsibility for the fiasco. Don't do business with ExpressJet if they're not reliable, but don't try to place all the blame on them when you're profiting from the relationship and you're at fault too.

I was supposed to arrive in Oklahoma City at 5pm Monday night. Instead, I got there around midnight on Tuesday. And I had the great pleasure of hanging out in the airport for 15 hours or so, plus driving to the airport twice and boarding airplanes thrice. It was great fun.