Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mom, Are You Growing a Mustache for Movember?

(and other things my kids said today before 9am):

Watch - I can play the recorder through my nose!
MOM - Follow me on Twitter.
Clementine oranges? Oh great! Do we have any salsa?
Why does my brother always get to hog all the purple hair elastics?
It wasn't me - Dad was watching that show.

and my personal favorite:

I would read your blog Mom, but I really don't have time.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I'm not mentioning names (US Air)

Endless plane delays and re-scheduling of flights.

Finally board.

Sitting on tarmac.

Flight attendant: "We are waiting for another crew.  They are the ones who originally bid on this flight.  But then they were late.  So they called us in.  We all had to show up, and get the plane ready.  Now the other crew is here.  They have the right to this flight if they want it.  Unfortunately, they want it. So we all are stuck here waiting till they get on the plane, at which point we'll have to leave.  They will come on, and be your crew today."

Too much information.

Your union problems are none of my business.

I want to board your plane, have a diet coke, fall asleep, wipe the drool from my chin, and get jostled by IT consultants as they whiz past me.

I don't care who bid on what flight and who has what right to which hours.  Just tell me there has been a delay of twelve minutes and after that we will be scheduled for take-off.

Let us now fast forward to the return flight.  Same airline.

Flight cancelled.

Re-booked onto connecting flight through Washington, D.C.

Get off plane and eat airport Chinese food.

Go back to gate to board plane for Montreal.

One problem.  Plane is headed for Philadelphia.

Gate agent says: Oh, didn't anyone tell you?  This plane will stop in Philadelphia, you will have to de-plane for an hour, and then re-board for Montreal.

That is relevant information that I would have liked to know prior to taking off.  I like to know what city I am in, where plane will be stopping, and what time we will be arriving at our final destination.

I am grateful that ultimately the plane brought us where we needed to go - safely.

I am also compelled to point out the opportunities for improvement in airline-passenger communication.

We don't care about your digestive problems, your mother-in-law, or your union issues.

We care deeply about the plane we are on and where it is headed.

Please keep the relevant information flowing.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I also got a Missoni sweater

I'm at a conference and there was a break.

Colleagues raced downtown for a splash of local color.  Suckers.

Target obviously a way better choice.

When I got in the cab (called a sedan here), I immediately noticed that the driver had the same ceramic dutch shoes dangling from his rear view mirror as I did dangling from my not at all nerdy conference tote bag.

Since you asked, I got my ceramic clogs from a delegate from the Netherlands who said they were each given three keychains to give to people who were exceptionally inspirational during their trip to the US. I was exceptionally inspirational during my speech, and proudly attached the key chain to my tote bag (hell, might as well jump in with both feet at this point).

I assumed that cab driver must have given exceptional customer service to the same group.

(cue ominous music)

Being that we are staying in the middle of nowhere, the Target is just east of the middle of nowhere.

And apparently, in this particular middle of nowhere, ya can't just jump out and hail a cab.

So the sedan dispatcher told me the best thing would be to get the cab driver's business card and call him, and he would pick me up.  He may even just wait for you, the dispatcher said.  And, in fact, as we were pulling away from the curb another hotel guest knocked on the sedan window and asked for the driver's business card, giving me the illusion that this practice is standard operating procedure here, in the middle of nowhere.

Colorless suburban strip mall. Thrilled.

Call me, driver says, handing me his card and I'll come back and get you.

Checkout line. Pull out Canadian cell phone, and roaming charges be damned, call the cab driver to pick me up.

Yeah, right.

Didn't even occur to me.

I have no plan B.

I pay for my three pairs of Converse very important and essential items and go to Guest Services for help.  Some woman overhears the conversation and says "I'm from Canada too.  Brockville."

She asks me if I've ever heard of it.  Of course, I say. You're a train station between Montreal and Toronto.

Wish I could take you to your hotel, she said, but I have this thing, with this person, and also someone else visiting, and I couldn't possibly.

In hindsight, maybe I should have been more excited about Brockville. Isn't it one of the thousand islands?

Guest services hauls out an actual yellow pages.  Calls a cab from her landline.  By the time we got out of the time machine and said goodbye to Bill and Ted, the taxi was there.

Things I find hilarious about this story:

1. That it didn't even cross my mind that the cab driver wouldn't come back
2. That I trusted him based on a matching keychain of dutch shoes that the Netherland delegation probably picked up at the Dollar Tree in the 6 for 1$ bin
3.  That the woman from Brockville tried to appear nice and Canadian but ultimately didn't give me a lift
4. That people still have and use actual yellow pages

And the complaint tie-in:

If the cab driver got a better fare, why wouldn't he just answer the phone and tell me? Or send someone else from his cab company?

Next time I'm in a colorful new city and my co-workers are exploring downtown there's NO WAY I would waste my time taking a cab to Target.

I'm definitely renting my own car.