Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home At Last...

...and Arizona is in my past. It was a long day yesterday getting up at about 0330 and then leaving for the airport at 0415. The taxi ride to the airport was okay. Then check-in at the American Airlines sucked. it seems the three weird sisters from MacBeth were behind the counter and if you waited on the check-in line instead of using the self check-in machines - well, you were just treated in a much less than respectful way. An awful lot of folks on that line were pretty pissed off by the time they got to the counter. I am sending off a registered letter to AA CEO to lodge a complaint. The woman, only one of the three actually would assist anyone who waited on line, who issued my ticket and checked in my baggage actually raised her voice to me because I told her I was flying armed and presented my credentials to her. She then harshly admonished me for walking up top the counter after the last person had left and demanded I go back to wait on line because she was not ready. Then she walked to the end of the counter and did nothing. The other two did likewise frequently, that is did nothing as people waited, then they would help only those who had used the self check-in. They were all quite nasty about it too, their voices in no uncertain tones of outright nastiness. Then when she finally called me over, I explained too her as I normally would do, that I would be flying armed as I am a federal agent. That infuriated her. She immediately went into a tirade, in a pretty raised voice - I suppose actually qualifying as a low yell - so all could hear - that I should not have told her I was an armed federal agent because that is a secret between me and the flight crew! I was flabbergasted to say the least but I kept my calm because I wanted to get on the plane. I then started to whisper to her and she got madder because now people who were watching from the line were laughing. I asked her what I should do in the future, and asked if I should hand over a note identifying myself or if I should whisper as I was doing to keep it all a secret? She stammered something that was unintelligible and finally got about her business.

Never in about 31 years of flying as an armed federal agent have I met an arsehat like her at check-in but there is more to the story. I suppose she thought she was being cute by charging me a $50 overweight fee for my luggage. Now mind you, this was the same exact luggage I flew with on my way from NY to Phoenix on the first part of my trip months ago. The bag did not get any heavier but I had not been charged the extra fee back then. In fact, I know with an absolute certainty that the bag was several pounds lighter than when I flew from NY to Phoenix. The reason for that was I threw out at least one pair of pants, and had sent three box fulls of items from that suitcase to NY via Priority mail because I wanted my bag to be lighter and easier to manage on the return trip. I guess maybe the scales work differently in Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport than they do on New York's LaGuardia Airport - maybe that is due to the change in atmospheric pressure to to the raise in elevation - or to a toe pressing down on the scale - or whatever other reason there could be for such a discrepancy. I paid, but that will not be the end of it!

Before leaving, I asked her her name and she simply refused to give it to me and her name tag, if she wore one, was under her sweater. Of course, she was logged in on the computer terminal when she checked me in and I am pretty sure the airline can find out who checked me in. The reason I asked her name is because I will be sending a registered letter to the CEO of American Airlines about her behavior and about the behavior of the other two check-in women who did not assist one person who waited on line. Funny how each position at the check-in desk, all three of them, had a Self Check In sign over it. As opposed to what one of them kept hollering out, that everyone except someone paying by cash for a ticket could use self check-in, I was not allowed to check in via the self check-in kiosks because I was armed. As I said, it was apparent they were pretty upset that regardless of what they were hollering out about using those kiosks, there were several people waiting on the check-in line for their assistance and only one of them helped those folks on the line. Simply put, she was quite bitchy, so were the other two. I now have the name of the CEO and the head of customer service for American Airlines, and their addresses. The letter will be mailed out tomorrow. Who knows, as a result of their having received my imminent complaint, maybe they will give me free peanuts if I ever fly with them again.

The flights were okay but packed. I had to fly through Chicago and change planes. We g0t there about 20 minutes before my second flight took off and it was boarded about 3/4 full by the time I got onto it. The flight attendant took the boarding pass, with the attached pass showing I was flying armed and said okay and handed it back to me after showing it to another flight attendant. I asked her if maybe she wanted to give it to the captain and she said no. Then after I had made progress down the aisle she called me back to gingerly snatch it out of my hand (with a smile on her face, one of those oh I just goofed sort of smiles) to give it to the captain. At least she was pleasant about it even though somewhat goofy in not having known, at first, what to do with it. Both flights went well though. I tried to sleep through them but for most of each all I got were short spurts of sleep interrupted by waking and nodding and waking and nodding. Still though, the flights went well and the one on which they gave me a free beverage was almost heavenly (that was the shorter of the two legs between Chicago and NY). Go figure but they charged for sodas between Phoenix and Chicago and that was a 3 hour flight as opposed to the later 1 1/2 hour connecting flight. Luckily I had a bottle of lemonade with me that I brought onto the first flight.

The flight to NY got NY about 25 minutes early. Luckily when I got there I only had to wait about 15 minutes for my luggage. I went outside and about 5 minutes later, Brendan (my son) was there to pick me up. Of course that was the best part of the whole flying thing, being met by him at the airport. He brought along Pepe (one of our Chihuahuas) and we had a nice, fairly traffic free (for NY) ride home.

Once at home I got a big hug from Linda, who seemed genuinely happy to see me, as I was to see her. Three and a half months is a fair amount of time to be away from one another. Before she could give me a big hug she had to wait for the competition to get done with me outside the side entrance to the house. The other three dogs, Mimi, Lucy and Roxie came out to greet me. Mimi went ballistic and whined, wagged, jumped up and down and wet the concrete in her excitement over seeing me. It was hard to keep her from jumping all over me. Lucy was fairly excited too. Roxie was more reserved. Linda only got her while I was away last spring and I knew her only for about 5 months before I was off again to AZ. She did remember me though and was apparently happy to see me but a bit shy. She has not been shy at all today.

Shortly after I got home, Celina and her boyfriend Dirk, got there too. We all sat down to a nice big meal and all is well again in the life of Glenn. I would probably have been miserable had no one been available to pick me up or to be there at home when I got there. That whole airport thing would have just pestered me all afternoon and evening. As it was, I forgot all about it until I sat down to blog today. I do not think I even mentioned it to the family and I suppose that is a good thing. Sorry dear reader to have bored you with it but that is how it worked out. You can rest assured though, I will also bore the CEO with the same story, this time with lots more details - you got the shortened version so it is not so bad at that.

Tomorrow, I suppose it is back to work for me. Only one day off this weekend sucks (especially since I get no pay for yesterday) but I can live with that. It will be nice to see some of my coworkers again, I have some good friends on the job.

All the best,
Glenn B