In which I try not to complain

I really believe that you get more of what you pay attention to. This has been my theory for some time now, and it has proved true with toddlers, teenagers, money and yarn. In keeping with this theory, I try not to complain, or focus on the crappy things that happen to everybody. It’s just crap, and it does happen to everybody, and complaining about it really only makes things crappier and makes sure that you spread it to more people.

Generally speaking, I am proud of my ability to do this, and think that it serves me well.


I am still in Toronto. (If you are in Florida, don’t freak out. I have a flight. Everything is cool now.) I have been at the airport for approximately seven hours, and I have a couple to go. It all began innocently enough, when I sidled up to the check in counter of an Airline-Whom-I-Shall-Not-Name-Because-I-Am-Too-Angry-To-Give-Them-The-Google-Hits, and started to check in. The lady at the counter tried to check me in using my name, and then told me I wasn’t booked on the flight to Florida.

I gave her my confirmation number.

She found my reservation, asked for my passport, took it, and frowned. Here’s where it gets weird. Apparently the computer (or someone) of the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH had an issue with my hyphenated last name, and it handled it by splitting my name into two parts, and assigning Pearl as my middle name, and McPhee as my last name, and thus creating a situation where the name on the ticket did not match the name on my passport and created a situation so grave that I could not be allowed on a plane.

Now, this has happened to me before. It’s a peril of the hyphen, and a burden I have learned to bear. Whenever this has happened in the past, the person at the desk says “Oh my goodness. It’s obvious what happened there. Silly hyphen problems. I can see all of your names are there, so off you go.” This is always what happens. I fly a lot, and this is ALWAYS what happens. This morning though, this morning it meant that I couldn’t get onto a flight to Florida, not unless the name on the ticket was changed. I asked her to check with her supervisor, her supervisor confirmed that I was hosed, and that I was absolutely going nowhere unless my name was corrected.

That seems frustrating, but simple, if my name is wrong on the ticket, please change it.

AWISNNBIATATGTTGH says I can’t change it. It is a security risk to allow people to change the names on their tickets.

I smile. I reassure the nice lady. I point out that I don’t want to change the name, not really. Really, I just want to move my names. All my names are there. They are even in the right order. I don’t want to change my name, I just want to shuffle Pearl from my middle name there — over there to the next box, next to McPhee. Simple, yes?

No. That’s a name change. They can’t change it. I cant change it. Only the agent who booked it can change it.

I call Andrews McMeel (who are the agent who booked it and also eight flavours of awesome through the whole thing) and tell them what’s happening. They check the original booking, and find that while they provided my name correctly, and yay, verily, it is even correct on their receipt, something has shifted in the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH computer. We agree that this is crazy pie, but that it sounds simple to fix.

They call AWISNNBIATATGTTGH and point out that all of my names appear on the ticket. (This, it turns out is sheer folly, since I had already tried the superweapon of logic on AWISNNBIATATGTTGH, and they were undefeated.) AWISNNBIATATGTTGH replies that it does not matter, since my last name on the ticket is McPhee, and McPhee is not my last name. (On this, we all agree.)

For my part, while they are on the phone with the lady from AWISNNBIATATGTTGH, I pull out various pieces of ID with my name on it, and brandish the sword of calmness and information. It is fruitless.

Kathy from Andrews McMeel eventually figures this out too, after a very, very noble attempt to be sensible in the face of it all, and she finally snaps, and tells the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH lady (who is now on the phone with AWISNNBIATATGTTGH head office and Kathy, one phone to each ear) to forget it. The name is wrong. It does not matter why or how it is wrong, the degree of wrongness doesn’t matter. We get that we can’t change it. (The reasons for this are unclear, but the name now cannot be changed. Possibly because there are about 14 seconds until the flight closes. Who knows.) Kathy tells them to forget the ticket. That ticket is dead to us. We don’t know any McPhee lady and we don’t want to. We wipe the slate clean and say that we would like to buy a ticket to Florida please… a whole new ticket. A ticket that has nothing to do with the other ticket, and the lady from AWISNNBIATATGTTGH smiles a little, because she has won on the name thing, and then she says:

“Sorry. There are no seats available on that flight. ”

It is at this point that my recollection becomes a little hazy, mostly because I broke rule number one, which is that you get more of what you pay attention to, and because I broke rule number two at the same time, which is “the antidote for crazy is calm”. I wig out. I try to explain that I know that they have a seat on that flight, because I HAVE A TICKET. Sure, it has some McPhee lady’s name on it, but just the same, we know that there is a spot on that flight because…we re-iterate… WE HAVE A TICKET. Please, we beg, because really, the flight to Florida is going to leave and I am not going to make it and I am starting to really lose it a little…. Please. Cancel this crazy McPhee lady’s ticket. That will free up one space, and then you will have a space to sell to me. See? Easy. Totally easy, super easy. I try calm logic (despite the fact that AWISNNBIATATGTTGH is clearly immune) and I try not to look like the frustrated totally strung out lady who’s been arguing about her last name and waiting in various lines and on hold and for someone at AWISNNBIATATGTTGH to use the higher functions of their brains for 85 minutes, and I smile.

The lady at AWISNNBIATATGTTGH does not smile. the lady at AWISNNBIATATGTTGH says that this is not how it works. That the flight is oversold. That means that there are people at the gate waiting to get a spot, and that the minute that she releases the McPhee ticket, it will be issued to one of those people, because… wool help us all…

Those people have been waiting and hoping to get a ticket.

It is at this point that I walked away. I walked away, and Kathy and I had a quick chat, and I called my sister in law who works for Air Canada, and I said “Kelly, get me the hell to Florida” and Kelly texted me everything I needed to know, and I took that info to a really awesome lady at the AC counter who sold me a ticket and helped me sort it, and Kathy switched up all the ground transportation and hotel and stuff, and I went and sat in a corner of the airport and had a little rest, and I really started to feel better. I remembered that all’s well that ends well, and that you get more of what you pay attention to, and Kelly called and said that she’d come into work a little early and have coffee with me, and I worked a little bit, and then I decided that maybe I would feel better if I washed my face and freshened up, and I went to the loo.

While I was in there, congratulating myself for my formidable ability to let go and move on, I thought, you know what I should do? I should take a couple of pictures of my new sweater for the blog, and I took out my iphone, and tried a couple in the bathroom mirror and they were pretty crappy, so I got out my proper camera to take a better one… and

My camera is broken. The screen on the back is totally arsed. Finished… Totalled. I didn’t drop it, I didn’t bump it, it was working last night… All I can figure is that at some point in the day I got angry enough to psychically damage electronics. I’m still trying to figure out how to blame AWISNNBIATATGTTGH for it. I’m leaving 10 hours late for a book tour with a broken camera, and I love that camera, and it’s expensive to replace, and I’ve had it.

Philosophy or not, it’s a crappy day. I quit. I am not going to try and do anything except drink beer, go to another country and knit for the rest of the day. If you see me, don’t make eye contact.

(Edited later to add: Sorry guys. I’m getting absolutely spammed to death on this entry so I’ve had to close comments. I’ll try opening them later. Rat bastards. The irony of it all.)

251 thoughts on “In which I try not to complain

  1. Oh, Stephanie. Oh my. This sounds way too assinine to even be real. Sending you woolly thoughts.

  2. May I recommend that you lower your expectations in airports? For example, enter the airport and think to yourself: Self, I think I’m going to go up that escalator. Then pick the up escalator. See? It’s like your to-do list; the less you expect, the more you will accomplish.
    As to persons of unspeakable names at ticket counters, be pleased with them if they look at you when it’s your turn. It’s about all they CAN do, and it will make you feel better, knowing they have accomplished it.
    Then go have another beer.

  3. They have beer in Florida. And gators. Imagine if the counter person drank the first and encountered the second….
    I think you should tell the name of the airlines. Clearly they oversell on a regular basis, and this sux (can I write that on this blog?)

  4. Yikes! May that beer be extra strong. Would knitting a special AWISNNBIATATGTTGH voodoo doll help alleviate the angst?

  5. I think you should wrestle some gators when you land. You’d win, hands down.

  6. I wrote a comment, and then I deleted it. We are not going to pay attention to it so it will all go away. The beer? Have two.

  7. OMG!!!! Harlot….you have my condolences. When will the powers that be learn that good customer service is THE most important thing they can do to ensure future business? I absolutely HATE hearing stories like this! Have a beer for me while you’re at it!

  8. I had something similar happen to me while traveling on business. The ticket was booked by my boss’s assistant and the airline wasn’t going to let me check-in to the flight because I didn’t have the card the flight was booked with. Luckily I was able to straighten it out, but it took a while to explain why I wasn’t the person who booked the flight.

  9. Ooooooooo you are good… maybe you don’t feel it, but I would have exploded waaaaay sooner…
    I spent HOURS in JFK yesterday trying to get my mom’s dog on the flight… so I have a taste of what you went through… just a teeny tiny taste…
    Have some chocolate and beer upon arrival!

  10. After the beer, the knitting and the book tour, After all that. Write thee a nasty, nasty, letter to the president/CEO of said airline. Mention names. Tell them the horror. Tell them in this day and age, a hyphenated name is NOT an oddity and they need to get with the times. Demand a refund for the ticket you didn’t use. (Oh, and if you plan on returning by said airline…make sure you still have a reservation. If you don’t take the first leg out, they tend to cancel the return trip.)
    Go. Drink more beer. Knit more. Have a great trip!

  11. Poor Steph! Your neglected fans in Florida will well appreciate the sacrifice you have made in order to be with them.
    I go to Oregon several times per year. In fact, I’ll be there twice before the trip in which I go to Sock Summit. My usual destination is 1,100 miles from my home. I drive, because 1,100 miles of driving is less trouble than one day in an airport.

  12. Thank you for explaining why in three marriages I never once considered hyphenation. Actually the more recent two, I didn’t change a thing. I laughed, and then went to the restroom.

  13. I sure hope you get your money back – what a lot of sexist crap! Too bad you didn’t say their name. You’d do the normal public a service!
    Those people have no idea of the strength of knitters worldwide!!!
    Knitters of the world, UNITE!
    I normally do red wine, but I get the beer thing, too!

  14. I second the opinion of Susan @7:27. Absolutely tell the airline what happened. I firmly believe that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and with all you’ve had to squeak about today, perhaps that wheel will get greased just a little–if not for you, maybe for some of your fellow hyphenated travelers in the future. Be nice about it (I also believe in killing people with kindness) but *don’t* just let it go! They work for you, after all!
    That said, have as much of whatever it takes to calm your nerves tonight, and know we’re all sending nice wooly thoughts your way.

  15. That didn’t come out right. I meant I laughed at the blog post, not the marriages. It took a lot longer to laugh at the marriages.

  16. I’m experiencing much of the same my friend. Woke up to a foot of SNOW, ran out of yarn for my sweater, bounced a student loan payment. eff the world.

  17. On second thought, you don’t have to write them a letter. Just send them a link to today’s post. You could never say it any better.

  18. I confess. I want to know who it is too. I have my own list of “airlines I must not fly unless life is in peril” and this one needs to be added to it.
    Though it’s probably already on that list, come to think of it….

  19. After all that fuss, you didn’t even get taken to the little room where they do the body cavity searches?
    Security slackers.

  20. Unbelievable! Kafka, anyone? Hope your stay in Florida makes up for this surreal adventure.

  21. That truly sounds like a horrible day. I’ve had to deal with some unfortunate things on airports thanks to my last name as well; just of a different nature and not quite this mad… I find cursing really helps when in situations like this. I mean it doesn’t fix anything but it makes me feel better. Cursing and a good long laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Also please apply alcohol, chocolate and yarn in generous amounts.

  22. I can’t believe you didn’t poke her in the eye with a knitting needle! I hope you are rewarded with free travel or SOMETHING for your amazing patience!

  23. GAH! And I just totally replied to your twitter telling you that there are fish byproducts in Guiness making it non-vegetarian.
    Now I feel like crap.
    I hope your tour goes better…and that stuff about the fish…try and forget I said it.

  24. Maybe a reason there to always take a copy of one of your books to the airport with you?
    That whole thing is asinine and because I have vowed to be responsible for crap like this whenever it happens, I am sorry. I did not mean to ruin your day/week/tour. If it were within my power I would call a meeting of the entire airline, from the top to the bottom, and ensure that this kind of thing never happens to a customer of ours again. I would issue you not only a refund, but also an aggravation bonus equal to the value of a flights around the world, usable at any time. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize.
    Have a great and fun trip from this hour forward!

  25. Hang in there! Beer helps! And knitting…
    My hyphenated name usually ends up being just joined together without the hyphen, at least on the airlines that I have flown with. That is, NameXNameY instead of NameX-NameY. This is what the Department of Homeland Security did with it, too, which in turn was causing me serious worries about my US issued driver’s license, because one kind of wants to have name in their ID match the name in their cards. But magically, the driver’s license had the hyphen!
    But yes, hyphenated names are not a problem, and I could join into the group trying to have the airlines change their recommendation systems support other than a-z characters. 😀

  26. I absolutely believe in the ability of the human mind to damage electronics in times of stress. It has happened way too many times around my house. My experience has been that when the psychic cloud passes, so does the damage. Try it again later and see.

  27. Well that sounds like fun… but this might cheer you up… you can still use your camera even if the viewing screen is not working. It should still have a viewfinder (that neat little look-through hole) just like old-fashioned camera along before digital came along.

  28. I have the name thing, too. They always say “Oh, yeah, all the names are there.” What an idiot that woman must have been. Did you whip out the books you wrote??? Did you twitter how horrid the airline is and how they employ folks incapable of simple logic and no one should chance a trip to them. (How fortunate she isn’t a pilot who has to make split econd decisions that may require logic). Of course, you didn’t. You are a kind, decent person. You could let the rest of us do it for you…..

  29. Enjoy your beer. This is one of the many reasons why I hate airports. Hate, hate, hate them. If it wasn’t for the fact that I cannot take a train across the ocean (in most places) and the plane is, indeed, faster than most other forms of transport, I would avoid flying altogether.
    Hang in there, knit, and have another beer. Here’s hoping the day gets better. (And how can it help doing so, with knitting and beer?)

  30. Sorry for your rotten day. Flying is always “fun”. You probably have done this, but did you check the batteries on the camera? That might be the only problem. If not sorry. Hope tomorrow is better.

  31. Oh for crikey’s sake! This is stupid beyond words. I’m so sorry you had a rotten time. I’m also sorry I’m NOT in Florida. I’m in Virginia. I grew up in Florida. I have a condo in Florida. I WANT to be in Florida. I WANT to see my Harlot! I am bummed not to be there.
    I hope you get there and have a great time. I think they sell digi cameras in the airports. At any rate, I’ll bet someone will get one for you, if you ask.
    Stupid airline! Stupid employees! Stupid (sometimes) world we live in.

  32. I completely sympathise. My husband and I missed an international flight once because of the stupid dots over the a in his surname (Scandinavian style). So much hassle for two little dots. And my camera has broken in the same way. Which is quite devastating and is making me wonder how to explain to new baby why there are a hardly any photos of him and several thousand of his older brother at the same age.

  33. I have nothing to say that will help get even with those responsible.
    But I will be pondering and considering an Irish curse.
    Breathe deeply, think restful thoughts: you are in the cabin in the snow…..with a beer.

  34. Two words for you: Mercury effin’ Retrograde (sorry, I lied – that was three words). I’ve had SIX DAYS IN A ROW like that. I try to comfort myself by saying at least I got a blog post out of it. It’s not helping much.
    I need to take up drinking. It won’t change things, but maybe I’ll forget about it all quicker.

  35. Are you sure you aren’t already in the States and are trying to get back to Canada? Kudos for staying so calm… And that camera thing happened to my son’s friend,too. It must be a self-destruct thing….Hope Florida goes well and that you enjoy the trip…

  36. AUGGH! That is beyond frustrating.
    As a hyphenated name person my entire life, and a name which has nothing to do with marriage, my travel agent just doesn’t use a hyphen in bookings.
    Hyphens are apparently just not something super-sophisticated airline booking software can handle … Air Canada sends me snail mail with the hyphen, yet makes all the bookings without one …
    Hang in there! I hope you could at least go to the Air Canada lounge and eat a cookie or a banana.

  37. I’m so warped that I believe that these people who work for airlines and other “service” industries enjoy the pain they inflict on the public! I’ve had so many bad experiences with flying that I just don’t do it anymore. If I need to get to London from Texas I will find a way to drive there before I consider an airline!
    Sending wishes for calm and peace.

  38. Yikes! If somehow you end up in New York (which really is not a stretch at this point), I will buy you a big beer and let you run rampant in my stash.

  39. Well, on the plus side Air Canada managed to come out the hero – that doesn’t happen too often in my part of the world – you were amazingly well behaved. Try not to spend more than a month at the airport – apparently that’s as long as you can stay before security will notice you and put you on a bus. Thank wool for beer eh? Wishing you well and no more troubles.

  40. Oh Stephanie, you are the vision of patience to deal with that airline. I’ve run into the same type of people this week, with that lack of common sense, only they were in the health insurance business.
    Let’s blame it on the retrograde.

  41. Yikes, that really is a crappy day. On the plus side, it must over soon, right? Here’s to many better days!

  42. Unless I read this completely wrong it was Air Canada that got you out of this? They’ve always been really good to me too, and rescued me when I’ve been in an idiot-U.S.-customs-agent jam (the male version of the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH agent) so whenever I hear people slag them, I just say “I will not hear them disparaged in my presence”. I’m glad everything got straightened out. And no, I don’t work for AC.

  43. Aww Bella-Boo, it’s OK…karmically speaking, someday the lady from AWISNNBIATATGTTGH will encounter the bureaucrat who insists she is legally dead and no longer exists and therefore not entitled to any old age/retirement benefits. Then let’s see how she likes “sticking to the rules”!!! Drinking beer and knitting sounds like the best solution for now and tomorrow may bring more “adventures” but the way I see it, Life balances out and something fabulous is just around the corner!
    Cheers, Barbie O.

  44. My husband, who is a pilot for First Air (which does not fly passengers to Florida, so I know AWISNNBIATATGTTGH isn’t them), would like to apologize on behalf of sensible, reasonable, intelligent flight crews everywhere. He and I really hope this never happens to you or anyone else ever again. But that might be asking too much.

  45. I’m guessing anyone who sees you in the airport and tries to kineer you would be taking their life in their hands tonight. Some days are best left with no permanent records. Have a good rant – get it out of your system and then be calm. Life goes on. (either that or find a good voodoo person and tell them about the airlines people)

  46. Write to the Prime Minister! Write to the president of the airline. Tell the airline that the density of their logic has broken your camera and you want to be recompensed and by the way you think that carrying the burden of their stupidity has hurt your back….You’ll have an apology by Monday.

  47. Perhaps you should divulge the name of the airline. The people there should hear from as many of us as possible about your tribulations. They should be made to take seriously the power of the Web, and the threat that none of the thousands of us would take a flight with them ever again unless you receive a full apology

  48. I’m sorry. That is ridiculous. I think the airline agent was jealous that you get to fly to the land of sunshine and beaches and she’s not. I’m so excited about visiting Vero Beach tomorrow to hear you and bring home an autographed book!

  49. I’m so sorry. Stupid people suck.
    I know that kind of frustration. I always want to just scream at stupid people. Scream. At the top of my lungs.
    I hope your flight was smooth, that you sat next to another knitter, and that you were able to get a cocktail on the flight.
    And, if you don’t mind, could you e-mail me the name of the airline so that I don’t fly their un-friendly skies? Thankyouverymuch!

  50. Airline lady #1 sounds like a small person – small on empathy, small on brains, small on creativity. She is probably not a knitter, or a risk-taker, or much fun. She tried to bring you down to her level. She didn’t succeed. At the cosmic level, you won, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. As for the camera, who knows? It might work again tomorrow. Electronics are a mystery.

  51. You have so much more paticence than I. I would have ripped the lady a new one as soon as it was apparent she had rocks for brains. It is clear there is a defect in the airlines software and you shouldn’t have be pit throug hell for it.
    As for the camera, ours broke right after our son was born. We got one shot off and that was it. It happened that the CCD was defective and fuji replacted it under an extended warrenty. It’s worth checking the manufactor’s website to see if they have some thing there. Best of luck on FL.

  52. I know you are trying be noble by not divulging the real name of AWISNNBIATATGTTGH. But you could also be noble by saving the rest of us from these people.

  53. Drop the knitting. Go straight for tequila shots!
    I personally guarantee that the people who work at the unmentionable air line have at least a couple of years of college, if not an actual degree, under their belts. Only higher education yeilds that degree of stupidity!
    Have fun in FL….sun, beach and Mimosas! 🙂

  54. I think Greg Kinnear should buy you a new camera. I mean, how much great press has he gotten out of you taking one little picture of him? The least he can do is thank you by replacing your now broken piece of history.

  55. Alexander from Judith Viorst’s book (Alexander and the Terrible,Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)
    feels your pain.

  56. Idiots of the world seem to be united against Stephanies with two last names.
    Even though I’m the ONLY Stephanie V-W in the ENTIRE WORLD – I had some asshat from the formerly illustrious HBC tell me that I couldn’t talk to them about my account b/c MY BIRTHDATE DIDN’T MATCH THEIR FILES. I was trying to explain to them where our payment went when some twit told me that he was trying to protect my privacy! But how could it be MY privacy if my birthdate didn’t match. I threatened to deny all existence of myself b/c, quite frankly, if I’m not me b/c my birthdate doesn’t match, the I must not owe them any money.
    When I calm down enough about this that it doesn’t threaten to send me into labour, I’ll blog it.

  57. After the beer has worn off, I suggest a well worded letter to AWISNNBIATATGTTGH’s board of directors, with a carbon copy to the local press. Sheesh! I’m very sorry.

  58. “Your mom looks like my mom when she doesn’t have her knitting.” or something like that. However, the illustration is soooo close to home for me. Thank You.
    I hope that you had some. I feel so much better, more intelligent than “them” when I can remove myself from any sort of aytch ee double toothpicks by just whipping a sock in progress.

  59. I bet I can guess the name of the airline. I’ve had a bunch of situations where I had actual tickets with reserved seats in hand, arrived early and they gave away our seats anyway — it’s always been the same airline. I know — we’ve finally sucked it up and started taking connecting flights because the only nonstop was this particular airline.
    I truly feel for you and admire how calm you remained.
    Sorry about the camera. . .

  60. I fully believe you will have a stellar flight and a fantastic trip in Florida because you have used up all the travel shit already. That said, do please enjoy a mojito or eight while you’re there. I will have a beer (American, sorry, it’s all I have) in solidarity because my blood pressure went up 85 points reading that story.

  61. I am thinking the rest of your trip will go off without a hitch…and where do those insane people behind counters come from???? Outerspace I think…

  62. In situations like this I blame the computer programmer who wrote the stupid program for the ticket sales and the tester who didn’t do their job and test the aforesaid program (my husband has just defended the programmer/tester and said it was the data entry person’s fault). Then I move on to the moron who can’t use their brain and fix the problem at the counter (or their supervisor), how many times have you seen “important” people jump queues, of course they could move your name to the top of the list above the first of the standby passengers so you get the ticket, but obviously it was just too much like doing their job. If you do write a letter of complaint do be sure to cast aspersions on the ability of said programmer, tester and data entry person and the company’s ability to allow for obvious errors which have been verified by the booking party. And of course on the probability of you ever doing business with them again….

  63. Holy Cow! I have heard some flying horror stories but that takes the cake. I wish I new the airline and they would not get my business. I already have one that after they destroyed my luggage and then acted like it was my fault I won’t fly anymore. Yeah, the airline personnel have it rough with all the guidelines but what happened to common sense? Have another beer and enjoy Florida. By the way Lene is right.

  64. You have my sympathies. I have just spent the better art of the week on the phone or on the computer with RailEurope whenin I would order tickets, they would issue an e-mail that said thank you and somewhere between my ordering (and presumably their thank you) the tickets sold out. But they had these other, lovely tickets at another time for a higher price. And so the cycle went on and on…Just remember LOGIC DOESN’T WORK and you’ll be happier.

  65. Why is it that our society — especially in the digital age — can’t get a handle on hyphenated names? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that the computer won’t accept the hyphen. Why not? What’s another line of code to write? Is it really that hard or is it just the fact that we need more female computer programmers who might get it?
    I’d buy you a beer or three if I were there.

  66. I have, with much anger and high frustration, admitted that the airlines have all the control. This does not make me happy. And I’m not accepting it…just realizing that it is true.
    My suggestion: a side of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey with your beer. Works for me…without the beer.

  67. Fantasy time: whip out your laptop, fingers poised over the keys, and calmly announce you have a blog with 1500 daily readers who hang on your every word and in fact they’re waiting right now to hear all the details of your trip and could you please spell your name honey?

  68. I fear for our world and our respective countries when this — the actions of AWISNNBIATATGTTGH — represent the mindset that rules the world. Truly. How can we possibly end torture and encourage peace and understanding given the complete asshat character of what you experienced in the simple act of trying check in for a flight for which you had a frickin’ ticket.

  69. Someone needs to call that lady’s village and let them know their idiot’s been located.

  70. Darlin’ – I’m so sorry. For whatever it’s worth, a few of us are taking comfort in knowing that the !@#$%^&*s who work in Canadian airports are no more logical or sane than the !@#$%^&*s who work in US airports. It’s a miracle that there haven’t been more airport rage incidents.

  71. A woman at our work has a hyphenated name and she has not left the country for years because of it.
    In fact, because of her hyphenated name she did not get the tax stimulus rebate this year. That had something to do with the hyphen too believe it or not.

  72. When I read “We have no tickets available on that flight” I did something I can’t remember my ever doing before in my life–I hit my computer desk here in frustration for you. If I got that upset over here, I can only imagine how you, actually having to deal with such an idiotic system and person, managed to keep your calm–you’re WAY better a person than I!

  73. Good lord, some people should not be allowed to… well, to do anything really. Personally, I think you should out the airline, if only to protect your loyal readers from such morons. Could I interest you in a yarn bribe, perhaps?
    I am now going to have a drink to calm down my solidarity anger… wow, that really really sucks. Your sister in law, on the other hand, is a saint. Kudos to her!

  74. Yeah the new airline rules came into play today across the US. My coworkers travel every week and they’re hoping that they don’t hit the same problem on Monday morning.

  75. Oh, that sucks! Maybe there’s hope for the camera, though. I thought mine was broken for the same reason — the screen suddenly stopped working out of the blue. But it turned out I’d just accidentally clicked some button that disables the LCD screen and when a re-clicked it, all was well 🙂

  76. Dealing with people with no brain function can be absolute torture especially when they have power over you.

  77. Oh, despite the Google hits, you should tell us who it is, so we can NEVER fly with them. Ever. And email them to tell them so. Can you imagine unleashing your readership on AWISNNBIATATGTTGH? I think it’s time somebody did, to let them know how stupid the whole thing is, and that there are now thousands of people who will never give them their business, and who will tell other people to avoid them like the plague, because they can and will be so impossibly bureaucratic.
    With “customer service” like this, who needs the IRS?
    It’s like me and the DMV. Because my last name on my birth certificate was different than on my Idaho driver’s license, they INSISTED on making my last name the same as it was on my birth certificate . . . even though I am married. Have been for nearly eleven years. Had a string of children with me to prove it. And my married name is on all of my other documentation.
    Some crazy law in my state that said my license had to match my birth certificate. At least, it did until the next Monday, when the law changed. As this was trip number two to the DMV, (thank you, Social Security Administration), with my lovely hordes in tow. I walked out. Haven’t gone back. Need to go back. Am wondering how they’ll manage to mess me over this time. (Even though they’ve been really nice about it, and even friendly and apologetic.)
    Best of luck in Florida! It must be gorgeous there this time of year . . . not late enough to be blazing yet. :o)

  78. I will just hope that a previous passenger, whose name they also will not be able to properly figure out or identify, has left a lovely ball of cashmere in the seat pocket right in front of you when you finally do get on a plane.

  79. Holy Shit. I am so sorry. That is so bass ackwards..My deepest and sincerest sympathy. OMG I cannot even conceive of the horrendous stupidity going on behind that counter.
    All I could think of was well if she is still in Toronto, why did she wait at the airport? I was hoping you’d be able to go back home?
    Hugs, from another hyphenated woman…

  80. Please do post the name of the airlines so that we all can boycott them. Let’s show them the power of knitters!

  81. May the hyphen in your name come to haunt the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH…. Oh, wait! It did!!! Blessings to you that the rest of your trip is ginormously better than the beginning.

  82. Do you remember when flying used to be sort of fun? Hope the rest of the trip goes well.

  83. There is no cure for stupid, asinine, bullheaded perversity. I would have had an aneurysm right there is the airport. More power to you.

  84. Also being a hyphenated, I understand completely. Other people decide what my name is and then blame me for it. Up theirs. It is my names…. Beer and knitting and the threat of death seems only fair, don’t mess with us hyphenated women!

  85. Love the name of the airline – AWISNNBIATATGTTGH! We are already boycotting them as we no longer use any airline to travel. If we can’t take the train or drive to a destination, we won’t go.
    It hasn’t been a problem yet.
    Unfortunately that won’t work for you. Perhaps someday you will be able to use charter jets to get about. Of course the Revenue Service will be all over you if that happens! ROFL.
    The Florida knitters will enjoy twice as much now that you have braved the worst that AWISNNBIATATGTTGH has thrown at you.
    You won.

  86. I actually find your airline issues heartening, because I am having similar struggles with the United States State Department over my passport. They’re quite certain that the check I wrote them came from a closed account.
    This is after they processed the check I wrote for my husband’s passport. The check that goes to the account I’ve had for ten years. And they (the sucky government) don’t care that we can three-way call the bank to verify, and that the bank assured me that this isn’t my fault or theirs, but entirely the fault of the United States Government who can’t be bothered to process checks through the correct bank, then charge a $25 fee to the innocent person who’s trying to get to her brother’s wedding in Canada!
    Stand strong! Enjoy Florida! Sorry about the camera – although I’m sure there are a lot of Floridians who would be happy to share theirs.

  87. The only way to get one’s way in these situations is to cry. I have been known to whip up some pretty questionable tears in these situation, as a last resort. Works every time.

  88. You have all my sympathy for dealing as calmly as you did with silly airline people, and I’m glad AC came through for you.
    Is it just the screen on the camera that’s borked? Does it still take pictures, and go clicky like a good digital camera? Will they be mystery pictures until downloaded to a computer? I’ve had that happen to digitals before, but yeah, it’s a pain.

  89. And this sad tale is why I take the train instead of flying whenever possible. I know flying is the only practical way for your Toronto-Florida sojourn, but you can do a LOT of knitting on a train, especially in your own roomette. And given Amtrak’s on-time performance, you could knit until you drop.

  90. I really wish you would post the name of the airline. i would certainly want to avoid them. I hate to fly anyway (incidents like this are part of the reason( & being treated like that would probably cause a stoke!

  91. First, I hope the nice people in Florida have you swimming in beer by now. You deserve it. (Remember; you get more of what you pay attention to. Pay attention to beer.)
    Second – I take it you were at Pearson? Because I flew into Toronto last fall and landed at Pearson and it killed my camera, too. Well, actually it drowned it by filling my purse full of water, but the point remains that that is one big camera-killing airport.

  92. This, THIS, is why I am afraid of airports, especially the international terminals! I would never, never travel without a companion because, well, at a time like that I would want someone all grown up and responsible to be looking after me while I just wandered behind them in a blubbering stupor hoping that they would fix it and make everything all better.

  93. Oh my! What a load o’ crap you just endured. Sorry.
    Oddly I work for an airline that flies to FL (alot) and rather hope it wasn’t us, AND I was researching digital cameras of the point and shoot variety.
    May I recommend you look at the Fuji Finepix F100fd which seems to be well reviewed and has a $100 rebate available ($145 US is the final price)…

  94. Oh my! What a day. I hope the beer and knitting helped to sort it out.
    I think (and DH who just allowed me to read the entire blog post out loud- and laughed at it– after being reassured it had nothing to do with yarn) think that you should collect all the non-yarn posts: the dishwasher, the laundry, the story about getting the truck stuck in the snow and all those you haven’t shared– and go write a general humor book. You are without a doubt the world’s best knitting writer. I think you have a pretty good shot at best humorist. This post has Erma Bombeck beat, IMO, and she is definetly one of the best.
    Also if it’s too warm to wear the sweater in Florida, make your way to Iowa this weekend- our 80 degree F days have somehow changed to overnight frost warnings. A sweater is once again in order.

  95. Ouch, Steph. That sucks. No two ways about it. Enjoy knitting and knitters and beer, try to forget, and maybe someone will lend you thier camera.

  96. Sorry Darlin’. That. Totally. Sucks. I’ve been rounds with airlines before and once, just once, flipped out on the lady behind the counter, just that one time, it helped. As long as you get to FL safe, that’s the most important thing right? I’ll have a glass of wine for you tonight. Sometimes, and I dont say this to be rude, but there is no other word for it, people are just retarded. Absolutely, completely retarded. I’m sure some kind knitter in FL will loan you their camera. Take care, and know that in times like these, a little beer really does help.

  97. Insanity and a total inability to use common sense has infiltrated all of our governments and has filtered into all of our lives. When I applied for my citizenship papers, they wanted my father’s birth certificate even though I explained that when he was born in The Netherlands in 1901, it was not customary to issue a birth certificate and he never had one. Both my father and me served with the Armed Forces here and that was okay, but I still needed his non-existent birth certificate to become a citizen. ???

  98. I got angry just reading your story! Blimme, I know your pain. My name’s hyphenated, and ’cause of some weirdo mistakes at too many levels to go into detail, the name in my passport does not match the name in my driver’s license does not match my name in “the system” (=immigration services) does not match the name my home country assigned to me (imagine my last name is x-y. It’s on record as x-y, x, y, xy). This makes air travel close to impossible. I usually call the airline ahead of time to find out what that ticket will say, and then I’ll present the appropriate form of ID (and bring copies of my birth certificate and marriage license, just to be sure). Works well when flying domestic. Will see what happens this summer, when I’m flying international. Argh!

  99. oh goodness! how irritating. I once flew from South Africa to New York via Amsterdam. In Amesterdam I was asked why I was trying to travel on a seperate plane from my luggage, which left me stammering, since I had really hoped that my suitcases and I could all be on the same plane. Apparently they were loaded onto a different plane. And that caused my name to be flagged with red. So I had to miss my plane to New York and wait for my suitcases to arrive so that they could be searched. Deep calm breaths did nothing. Nothing.

  100. That is so many shades of wrong, there are just no words. What a stupid f’ing way to start off a book tour. This is one of those times where you’re almost afraid to look around and ask “What ELSE can possibly happen now?” Cause, you know, it will. I’m so sorry that happened to you. And even in your anger, you have enough class to not mention who it is exactly that’s screwing you over. Wow.

  101. Oh, God. That sounds dreadful. You have my sympathies.
    FWIW, if you use the airlines’ frequent flyer programs and make certain that your frequent flyer program number is entered into your intinerary when your flight is booked the system validates the entry of your name against the name in your record. If someone tries to incorrectly enter a hyphen-less last name for you the system will refuse accept the frequent flyer number. It WILL issue the ticket with the incorrect name, however you can then call the airline within 24 hours and the airline will re-issue the ticket AT NO COST with the correct name.
    This presumes that your name is correctly entered into the airline’s frequent flyer program, of course.
    (This has happened to my husband, who flies 200,000+ miles each year and has a non-standard, “foreign” name.)

  102. Frickin’ airline idiots! you’d think with all that money loss they’d be more accomodating. Frickin’ airlines!$#%$@#$%@#$% a horse would be better.

  103. I hate to say it, but the hyphenation thing is going to get worse soon. The US Feds have now decided that it’s “safer” for us all if they require the name on your photo ID or passport and the one on your ticket to match exactly. If it doesn’t, you don’t get on. Soon they’ll also be requiring that you supply a birthdate and gender when booking your flight. All of this is supposed to increase security and decrease the risk of being wrongly considered on the “no-fly” list because you have the same name as some poor sucker who is a suspected terrorist.
    I’m not sure when these changes take effect. sometime soon. So for me, that means I have to use my full name and make sure they spell it right (which seems virtually impossible even for people who have known my family for 50 years), and for you it means you’ll really, really, really need to make sure they don’t muck up the hyphen.
    So for now, you can blame AEITUOSHYU airline for this mess, but later on, you can blame the US Dept. of Homeland (in)Security. Blah!

  104. From someone who had a hypenated name before she got married, and a different hypenated name after she got married (though it got shorter and easier to be spelt) I think about the oriental guy whose surname is ‘O’ – he also has a lot of problems.
    Blog idea – you could tell us the story of how you came to ‘choose’ your name – I know of the grandfather McPhee, but what about the Pearl? It could be a story that cast pearls before swine! My husband says he didn’t ‘choose his name’ he got it from his father, but everyone has a different story.

  105. Screens are often quite fixable. I recommend calling on your neighborhood geek, or a brave someone with a tiny screwdriver. When my LCD screen broke after a fall from the sofa, we bought the part for $35 online, and fixed it ourselves. Think of how much yarn you could buy, with money saved from NOT buying a new camera. 😉

  106. Oh Stephanie, why protect them? It’s obviously Air Canada – the ones who take 12 hours to get me from Toronto to BC, while the other airline takes 4. The one that leaves my friend’s broken up luggage on her front porch in the snow three days after she gets home, etc. etc. The ones who treat you like an idiot and call you a liar (all ten of you with the same complaint) and then get all hissy when you (all ten of you) develop an attitude. The ones who leave you stranded in Seattle overnight without giving you a hotel room, etc etc…..better stop

  107. Here’s hoping you have the kind of cosmic airline karma I once had.
    A well-known airline once screwed me over royally. It started with the first leg of my flight being cancelled AFTER I and about 40 other people checked in for it. It ended with my suitcase not arriving when I did and my learning the airline had been lying all along about a storm they claimed was playing f*-all with all the airlines. There was lots of sheer hell in between those two points.
    Long story short — I swore I would never fly that airline again. A few years later, the airline went bankrupt and was liquidated. Many news publications said a reason for the bankruptcy was the complete lack of customer service. Today, it is little more than a reference in a John Hiatt song — and, unlike in the song, it sure ain’t going to the promised land.
    Here’s to better travels for you, Yarn Harlot. And if the beer didn’t help enough, have a shot and a beer instead.

  108. I’m so sorry you had such a crappy day!
    I’ve had to deal with similar idiots before, although they worked in different fields (medical insurance, workman’s comp, and the voice over IP people). You are so much better than me, I loose my cool a lot faster.
    I hope the beer and wool helps, and enjoy the warmth of Florida!

  109. What happened to the bureaucrats in Beetlejuice? Didn’t they have to man the service desk in Hell? I don’t even believe in Hell, but I’m imagining the airline employee there.

  110. Soooooooooo sorry for your fun trip to FL. However, I laughed until I cried and even called my hubby in to read your comments. We’ve had an incident or two similar to this, and you just shake your head and ask “where do they get these people”. I’m now retired and would rather just drive instead of put up with the herding of cattle through security, check-in, etc.

  111. Sorry that your day has been crappy. Question, did your camera look like the LCD was crack or does it just not show anything? If it just doesn’t show anything then it’s probably internal and could get fix but only do that if it’s under warranty or was a super expensive camera. Shot me a email next time you are in Minneapolis MN and I’ll take a look at it for you.

  112. Flying has just gotten ridiculous; you only have to fly once to have a horror story of some kind. You would think that airlines would make an effort to get/retain customers in these shaky times. Hopefully, the rest of day has improved.
    If someone hasn’t already suggested it, try taking the batteries out of your camera, then put them back in. Sometimes electronics just lose their mind. Or the batteries could be dead.

  113. YIKES–weird stuff really happens to you on a regular basis!!!
    No wonder you need beer and wool often—LOL
    Get some of both in Florida when you get there, you
    have earned every drop and strand!!!

  114. Oh, my DEAR Ms. Pearl-HYPHEN-McPhee, I read the first bit with distress and by midway through I was SOBBING! (I’m not going to say if it was woe or laughter, but if it WAS laughter believe me when I say it was NOT **AT** YOU!) As another lady-with-a-hyphen, I not only feel your pain but recognize, empathize and share it. Because of course, I not only have a hyphen in my FIRST name (odd, that’s just plain odd, it must be wrong) but a BOY name. So my magazines come to MR. Dale AND Harriet, or to just HARRIET. And I can even top your airline ticket — well, for stupidity, though not for frustration. I have to this day the hospital bracelet that was affixed to me as I entered hospital to give birth, and it says (I can send you a photocopy, I am SO not making this up): “MR. DALE XXXXX, *LABOR ROOM*”. I guess I’m lucky they gave me the baby………

  115. What to say, but oh my! The vast levels of stupidity that exist in the world continue to astound. Bless your poor knitted heart that you had to deal with a whole day of that. Stitch it all away, girlfriend. That, and have yourself a frothy beer.

  116. In addition to writing about this to the knitting world, I think it would be great if you sent this description to the newspaper and NAMED THE AIRLINE. Oboyoboy, would that get their attention! You might even get a free flight. (Not that you’d ever really want to fly with them again, but first class might be nice.)

  117. Did someone mention something about a horse?
    At least the equine by-products can be actually used for something good… flowers, veggies, compost etc.
    People using equine by-products for brains, eh, not nearly so useful. Stephanie by dear girl…by the power of the Holy WOOL…name those sorry sons o’ AWISNNBIATATGTTGH!

  118. I hear Mercury’s in retrograde, maybe that’s it? Beer will help. Preferably something microbrewed, with salty snacks. And knitting.

  119. You are way calmer than I would have been at any point during the day. There would have probably been a screaming fit and a demand to start speaking with the president of the airline, especially when it was pointed out the error is on the end of the evil airline computer.
    Guiness is indeed good.

  120. More new D.ofInsecurity rules? Yet another reason why I won’t willingly fly again. I may decide to take a really long cruise someday, but the airlines can go bankrupt for all of me. All of them.
    And yes, Mercury is retrograde, and it’s retrograde in my birth sign. It goes direct Saturday May 30 at 9:21 PM. I’m counting the hours.

  121. On the news this evening it was announced that U.S. Transportation Security Administration will initiate new rules commencing May 15 regarding names. If all your names on your reservation don’t exactly match the government issued identification you will use, you won’t be able to get through security. As of August 15, you will be required to enter your date of birth and GENDER on your reservation. Have too many cross-dressers been getting through security? Nothing at mentioned mistakes made by an airline’s computer system.
    I hope you get home easily and without further frustation!
    Best wishes, Joanne

  122. This is probably a bad time to tell you, but in the past 3 days I’ve spent approximately 17 hours traveling from Wisconsin to Idaho and back (somehow through Detroit, which is in the WRONG DIRECTION) all with a ticket with my last name mis-spelled. Somehow my -sOn got changed to an -sEn when the people who made my reservations for the job interview got the tickets. No one noticed. I am EXTREMELY grateful to the universe for this fact and I hope that common sense continues to generally prevail. Now all I have to do is decide if this liberal atheist can possibly survive living in southern idaho with sanity intact.

  123. Holy freakin’ cow. OK, you absolutely have to write a letter to the CEO of the airline, including the following information: how many people read your blog regularly, the fact that some multiple thousands of people are going to sock summit, many flying airlines to get there, and just letting the airline’s name slip would probably result in a boycott of their airline that would stun them in scope and grudge-holding-length-of-timeness.
    Or, you know, you could say, “Fly, my pretties!” and release your minions, AKA your loyal readers, who’d happily descend like flying sock monkeys on this airline. I think the scathing letters would number in the thousands. Tell us the airline, pretty please?
    Also, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Blechhy. I hope there were multiple beers.

  124. You win. That sounds truly terrible. I hope that 7+ hours of uninterrupted knitting time were some small consolation.
    (And very, very sorry to hear about the camera.)

  125. Domestic U.S. travel is about to get all borked up with the new rules. I am very glad not to have a hyphen or O’ in my full name. Though my first name is frequently misspelled. Argh.
    I really freaking hate that they will ask our gender and birth date now. I don’t want to tell them this!

  126. I am so sorry. And I feel your pain. Between personal travel and the touring dance company I used to manage, I’ve had nearly every nightmare airline customer service experience you can think of and I have had some serious battles of wills with airline personnel. Don’tcha hate it when policy supercede good ol’ common sense? There is only one airline I enjoy supporting at this point because their policies actually recognize that they are servicing people, not zombies. (Still no bag fees!) They’re not perfect, but they are much more user friendly than their competition.

  127. I had an experience over christmas that involve 22 hours of airport waiting when the trip should have taken 4 and being re routed through Toronto on a trip from winnipeg to vancouver- figure that out! I’m just glad MY hyphenated name hasn’t caused trouble like yours… perhaps some nice soothing sock knitting is in order?? 🙂

  128. I agree with Caitylin at 10:43. Crying works every time, or it did while I was a sweet young thing and most gate agents were male. I discovered this by accident while still a college student (many long years ago). Haven’t tried it recently on the (usually female) agents.
    Now it seems I have another issue to worry about, if the U.S. TSA is really serious about the identical names plan. My passport and driver license both show an apostrophe in my last name, but the airlines’ systems WILL NOT recognize an apostrophe under any circumstances. I guess they’ll just have to change their computer systems to agree with the federal gummint. Wonder how long that will take?
    Enjoy your beer and wool, and your fans in Florida.

  129. I gave up the hyphen. I was weak, and let the bastards win. I can’t tell you how many times I would say “name hyphen name” and they would ask me how you spell “hyphen”. Considering that I live in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, this boggles me. I have always admired your hyphenated name. I f it’s not too personal, where did you get the Pearl part of your name?
    Camera- is the battery dead?
    Photos in bathroom- don’t do that in the States. It is illegal in many places to use a camera in a public bathroom ( thanks, pervs). I fear they would not understand if you explained that it was because you needed a sweater picture for the blog, and would assume you were taking a picture of the middle aged woman behind you, who was fixing her slip by hoiking up her skirt and just getting the damn thing to hang right.

  130. You know–I reread this hours later alongside my daughter, and we were laughing as well as wincing. She promptly launched into what mistakes had to have been made along the way in the computer programming and data entry for that mess to have happened, and if the airline really set it up so that nobody working directly with customers could change a thing, either the programmers were incompetent or they entirely expected and planned for the check-in clerks to be. Wonder what their turnover rate is.
    But I gotta add: Dale-Harriett’s story at 12:09 takes the cake too.

  131. CAMERA! There may be an answer to your camera issue. About a year ago, I was on vacation, and all of the sudden the camera did not work. I could not see a thing on the display. I became nervous and sweaty. My brother-in-law (I love that guy!) could tell I was trying not to panic and asked to see the camera. It was not broken. Somehow I had changed the settings for the display. It was fixed with a few pushes of a button.
    Fingers crossed for you!
    BTW, I am going to assume the airline was Northwest. I hate Northwest so much, will NEVER fly with them again and it makes me feel better to know that they hosed you too.

  132. This just goes to prove how TOTALLY awesome you are- you go through all of this to come and talk to us! We love you for that! I hope Florida has some warm sunshine for you, to reward you for your determination. Last summer my daughter won a trip to DC to take part in the national spelling bee, it was great, but we had to fly. This year, she came third, and did not win the trip – I know it’s awful to say it but I was actually kind of glad, because now I don’t have to spend 2 days of May in an airport! Maybe I’ll be feeling stronger by next year…….

  133. I’ve had my go rounds with the Airlines too. Once, got my cell phone and credit cards stolen from the rental car as I was gassing it up to return it, so was in a foul mood when I hit the ticket counter.
    I stood in line to check in and was then told I could not stand in line until I had tried to check in by the kiosk. I politely explained that all info needed for the kiosk were in stolen cell phone. They didn’t care, I had to try the kiosk. I left my bags at the counter, walked the 2 ft to the kiosk and the @ss tells me “Take your bags”. “I’m only going 2 ft, OK I’m standing in front of the kiosk, what do you want me to punch in, I have no confirmation number, no code, nothing but my name and it won’t take that”, I retort, not politely. The next thing I know there are threats to call TSA. I figured the only thing that could make the day worse was being arrested by Homeland Security. However, then they did let me stand in line to check in, again.
    Beer would have helped, but it was 6am. Never mind, Morning beer would have helped.

  134. This would be hilarious as a “look what awlful but still humorous stupidity was inflicted on someone not me.”
    But, I have several battles going on with health insurance companies caused by stupid mistakes. And, in insurance vs. airline, Insurance totally wins.

  135. Yes, I agree, name and shame. And write that letter to the management. Corporations do not change until forced to do so.
    Sorry you had such a day.

  136. Oh dear lord! Huge plaudits on your magnificent self-control in not making a scene (I so would have cried). It must be that Canadian stiff upper lip one hears so much about.

  137. Oh dear oh dear. If only I’d read this 9 weeks ago, I might have known better than to burden my new daughter with a double-barrelled surname. O’course I realised she’d have some difficulty with such a name… but I didn’t realise just how difficult it could be. I do think you might give us the name of the airline so that we know to avoid them forever after; think what pain you’ll spare little Claudia!

  138. I am so sorry! I hate it when I run into people like that, and if all you did was frantically try to use logic on her (and didn’t threaten her with bodily harm, or a lobotomy that she probably wouldn’t notice) you are almost saintly. I’ve noticed that people who act like the lady at AWISNNBIATATGTTGH are usually people who feel like that have little to no power in their lives and have esteem issues. (Yes I know that sounds like a load of crap but I swear, it’s true!) I swear, they need to feel important and right so they follows rules to the point of absurdity just so they can feel important, and maybe even superior. In other words, they are natural born bureaucrats and they drive everyone nuts so they can feel powerful! Just think about it. I think everyone has run into these people at sometime or another. Some of us more than others, unfortunately. Personally, I’d write the grand high mucky mucks of the airline a letter or call them, and tell them that you are a New York Times best selling author who logs a bajillion air miles every year and why you won’t be using their air line any more. That always gets someone’s attention. I mean, since you are something of a celebrity, you should be able to use it for something shouldn’t you? Just look at all the other people you’ll be helping by bringing this to their attention. I hope that rest of your trip is as smooth as silk, you have a great time, and perfect flights every time. I think it’s amazing you didn’t have a total melt down. I think I would have in your situation, and I’m not the type of person who normally does. Have a safe and wonderful trip!

  139. People like that only have one name “Oxygen Thieves”. They are too stupid to be allowed to breathe and should be culled any moment before they contaminate the human gene pool any further!

  140. This is an incredible situation…given that it was THEIR mistake. Economic times being as they are one must wonder why they would want to alienate customers and lose business. Dash the number of Google hits. Name names and let them feel the power of knitters. They deserve it…if for nothing else than stupidity.

  141. Oh Stephanie, I’m so sorry. I’ve had that happen and my name isn’t even hyphenated. It’s just too long. It really was their mistake, and it’s too bad that you had to suffer for it. Total, total, TOTAL bummer. But you’re getting to Florida, so it’s totally going to be ok.
    And I’m sorry about your camera. No one deserves that.

  142. This confirms once again that it is impossible to fly without your knitting…..I don’t know how the non-knitters do it, drinking at the airport bar I expect.
    Also, I really want to know the name of the airline because I will not only avoid them…I’ll encourage all I know to avoid them and I’ll write the airline a letter telling them so.

  143. So, I guess I should either give up my maiden name or my married name? OR I could make it worse for the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH airline and have my entire name translated into Klingon just to make things REALLY interesting at the airport because having 3 names is security risk reason enough, but having 4 names written in Klingon would be freaking awesome to watch the 2nd grader (my respectful props to all REAL 2nd graders – this is not a diss to you, but to those who couldn’t get to grade 3 after like, 19 tries!) totally freak out trying to reach for the red name terrorist button.

  144. You know what? I think that the next time (which will be my first time) I go to the airport, I’m wearing my Federation uniform, walking up to the ticket counter and say, “I need to buy a ticket to the nuclear wessel in Alameida.”

  145. Oh Stephanie, I so totally sympathize. I once spent the better part of 3 DAYS trying to get from Orlando to Bonaire, due to a certain (named after a beautiful island in the caribbean where they love reggae music) airlines incompetence. This trip is approximately a 3.5 hour flight. Have several beers. It will get better. They’re going to love you down in Florida!

  146. Oh dear. I hope your Kafka-esque experience was not at the counter of the airline I used to work for … that person was having a bad day and was obviously not going to go home until someone else was miserable too …
    Which is proof that you get more of what you pay attention to.
    Unless you’re the random victim.

  147. This isn’t even me, this is my husband, usually neutral on things-I-read-to-him, and formerly a lawyer.
    He’s with everyone above who said Write to Them. They don’t want bad publicity, and so far you’ve been kind that way. But he says write, mention the number of hits you get. And he says CNN would love this story if satisfaction isn’t given.
    I would add that final nudge should be that clever person above who pointed out you could be a force for good, helping all hyphenated travelers. Write the letter, link to this post, mention CNN. And blessings attend your going out and coming in.

  148. @ WalterKnitty
    Just in case you’re still reading down this far…
    I think the word you were looking for is *ignorant*. My daughter is retarded: thanks to one chromosome too many she has a mental age of 3, although she is 11 (and looks 13)! Please stop and think before using the *r* word in a way offensive to many, many people.
    Sorry for hijacking the thread with this, but I’ve got to the stage where I can no longer just let it pass.
    Stephanie, I’m sure your return flight will be as stress-free as can be (sure hope it will)!

  149. My deepest sympathy for the loss of your trusted camera. And in this day and age, it won’t be possible to repair it – they don’t make the parts. I can totally empathize with you on counter personnel – this used to happen to me many times when I traveled for business. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry any knitting with me since I was worried that the needles would become weapons in those cases of aggravation. I hope you have landed safely in Florida! Scotch also works very well!

  150. Thanks for reminding me. I just heard on the news that this is now the policy — period. If the name on the ticket doesn’t match the name on id, you’re hosed. I have to go check that my daughter’s ticket matches her id and I’d forgotten to do that. Just remember — this is apparently policy now so beware!!! Sorry about your day. Talk about crappy!

  151. whatcha knitting? Double up on the beers – US beer isn’t as potent as ours, keep that in mind as you hit the 4th one! 😉

  152. Further point: unlike some, I am not pressing to know the identity of the airline. But I would knit with acryllic to be told what AWISNNBIATATGTTGH stands for. (Not for one moment do I believe it’s an arbitrary assemblage of letters.) Then kew.

  153. I was cringing in sympathy. Many years ago I was a travel agent and I remember people rolling their eyes at me as I confirmed the spelling of names like “Brown”. If they only knew the horrors of a missing “e”, no eyes would’ve rolled 😉

  154. As a former worker in the travel industry, I’d be willing to bet that AWISNNBIATATGTTGH is a American owned company! In 10+ years, I never had a bit of trouble with “foreign” companies. Why do you think all of the “American” airlines are in financial trouble? Have a beer or two, you’ll feel better.
    As a formerly hyphenated last name possesor, stay strong for those of us that gave up. I dropped the hyphen, it was too much trouble. My initials used to be K.S.K-F. Now I’m K.S.K.F. I either have two middle names, or two last names. It all depends on my mood, and how much writing I want to do when I sign my name.

  155. Can’t blame you at all for denying them the Google hits. Though I hope someday to know who they are so that I can avoid them like the plague.
    Honestly, however, I don’t spend too much of my time avoiding the plague so maybe I should avoid them like fun fur.

  156. my sympathies – I would have been sobbing long before you did. Dontcha just love this security stuff – No airport has the same security measures and yet, I wonder who they think they are protecting and who are they protecting us from???Government!

  157. As a Vero Beach, FL resident who is exactly one hour and 55 minutes away from being in your presence, I say thank you and I sincerely hope we make it worth your while.

  158. Back again. I’ll bet the one person — well, two people — who could match this for last-name frustration would be writer/editor/bloggers Teresa (and Patrick, but he doesn’t knit that I know of) Nielsen Hayden. No hyphen, but also not a middle name. Their mutual last name — Nielsen Hayden. Bet she’s nodding and eye-rolling as we speak.

  159. holy crap. now THAT is a really, really bad day. i hope the universe evens things up by providing you a really, really good day soon.

  160. Oh dear. That is indeed a crappy day. *huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuug*!
    I think this incident is worth writing a letter to the execs at the airline which will not be named. Heck, just send them a copy of this blog post, with URL.
    I don’t know that it will help at all, but I’ll have a beer for you this evening.

  161. My only concern after being stuck anywhere for that long and trying to calm my fried nerves, “Did I bring enough yarn to get through this hellish day?”
    So, did you? You’re right sorry dumb question you are the “Yarn Harlot” after all!!

  162. Use the camera anyway. My husband’s camera did the same thing when we were in Africa. He kept snapping using the old-fashioned technique of looking through the viewfinder and we got home, plugged the camera into the computer and all of the pictures were there. It should only be the screen that is wrecked. It doesn’t avoid the expense of a new camera it just delays it for a while.

  163. Poor Steph! I hope the rest of the evening was less stressful and that you made it to FL in one piece. ((HUGS))

  164. Oh my goodness! As crappy as that all was, you still were able to make it funny.

  165. Please tell us the airline, so I can make sure I never, ever give them a single cent ever again.
    That is one of the stupidest things ever, and makes me crazy!

  166. My son is named after his father. On our family vacation, our son was detained at all four airports because his ticket “Smithjr” did not match his passport “Smith Jr”. And we couldn’t book a second ticket for just “Smith” because “he” already had a ticket. It seems that a space can cause problems just like hyphens, umlauts, and apostrophes. And two people with the same name can’t fly on the same plane.

  167. Well we know it takes a computer to really foul things up but it takes a stupid human to defend it!!
    Sorry for all your problems – never fly them again – and have fun for the rest of the trip.
    Smile, smile , smile

  168. Ohhkaaayy, I’m standing way over here, totally in your peripheral vision area, no eye contact, but I wanted to say – we will make it up to you when you get here. That’s a promise. (God, it’s unbelievable what ignorance, stupidity and malice can do when they get together!)

  169. Pls pls pls tell me the name of that airline so I can never fly them again. I will be happy to attempt to affect their bottom line in a negative way for that customer disservice.

  170. There’s this song–I don’t even know the name… it sounds like a bunch of drunk frat boys singing at the top of their lungs… the one part of the song is the part the makes me love it, though…
    “I think I’ll have myself a beer…”
    Today, Steph, THAT was your song.

  171. I hope you can get the money back for that ticket. They should just send the check to the lady that does not have your name. I bet your bank will cash it!

  172. Some German philosopher (I think) said “Against stupidity the Gods themselves contend in vain”. I guess he knew what he was talking about.
    Things can only get better

  173. It’s not just the airline, it’s the NSA as of 5/15/09 requiring that the name on the ticket match exactly the name on the gov’t issued ID. And starting 8/15/09 the airlines will be required to collect date of birth and gender info.
    What I think about the airlines is that they probably knew this was coming and should have been more effective at getting the names right!

  174. Omg, you are too funny! You surely have my sympathy and empathy, but this situation is a testament to your formidable writing talent!
    I hope the rest of your trip goes much, much better!

  175. The name of the airline doesn’t matter. They are all psychotic.
    I was hyphenated during my first marriage. My son has my (now)ex-husband’s last name. Flying with that situation requires a signed, dated letter from the ex in order to get the kid on an airplane going out of the continental US. Don’t ask me how I know.
    Second marriage, I left my name just the way it was when I was born. The kid is a teenager, and they don’t care what his name is.
    I get the letter anyways. Always. Every blessed time.

  176. Good luck! Having lived with a hyphen for 28 years, and vowing never to give it up because I am last in the family tree, all the airlines are the same. Screaming, crying, letters to the CEO do not work. Just wait until the DMV runs all the letters together on your license. It’s like THE MATCH GAME. At least you avoided the triple whammy – no name match, overbooked, flight is cancelled.

  177. i have to say, i have an incredibly high tolerance for stupid people (i work in the entertainment industry; it goes with the territory). but this? i would lose it. totally lose it and yell at people. kudos to you for remaining calm and collected!
    (who wants to start a collection for a new camera for stephanie?)

  178. I think I had the same person. They also work for AWISNNBIATATGTTGH phone company, who will not replace my never-functioned-once global phone because they cannot trouble shoot it in France (it was broken in France) and now I am in the US (still broken) so they still cannot trouble shoot the phone. No trouble-shooting step, no new phone. Even though the phone is only a few days old and IT DOES NOT WORK here, there or anywhere. Where did you get that beer? Knitting is excellent. And unfortunately no one can text me a new phone reservation.

  179. Clearly the root of all terrorism is people with hyphenated names trying to be all sneaky with the airlines. It boggles me how often my hyphenated name becomes an issue and confuses the crap out of computers. Of course, I have childhood friend whose last name is maiden name married name. I think the state DOT computer blew up when she tried to update her drivers license after getting married.

  180. I, too, have a hyphenated last name. I was young and stupid. If I had it to do over again, . . . well, I wouldn’t.
    Just yesterday, a gentleman dropped a package off and had me sign for it. I signed my very long hyphenated last name. He looked at it and said, “I’ll just call you Mrs. Last-half-of-the-long-last-name.” You’d think that after 21 years (that’s how long I’ve had the long last name), it wouldn’t bother me. But no, it did. I snapped out, rather loudly, I’m sorry to say, “That’s not my name. That’s my mother-in-law’s name and I don’t answer to it!”
    Didn’t help, but it made me feel better.
    I promise to never, ever call you “that crazy McPhee lady!”

  181. Hi Stephanie,
    I applaude you for your restrant! As someone who works with the public, although not for an airline, when problems arise as long as the customer is polite I’ll bend over backwards to help. If they get smart with me or are rude I no longer have a brain. I can smile and say there’s nothing I can do till the cows come home. I know it’s hard to be calm in the face of incompetence. You’re a better person for it.

  182. Hmmm, that reminds me of when I was getting my son’s Social Security card. I told them they had his name incorrect because the hyphen was missing in his last name on the card. They told me they couldn’t put hyphens in as they didn’t have them in their computer system. I asked about the lines between the sets of numbers and they said, “Those aren’t hyphens, those are dashes.” I asked them to put a dash in his name then and they told me they couldn’t as dashes were just for numbers and suggested that I should change his name to not have any line in it. WTFH?

  183. Oh, sympathies. Reminds me of when I got married. I wanted to change my name to husband’s last name (name combination would have made me sound like a 500 pound star of a Wagner opera). My father did NOT want me to change my name. SO, when purchasing the tickets for our honeymoon (our wedding gift) he hyphenated my names. Since I hadn’t purchased the tickets, I had no control in changing them. This effectively forced me to update my passport in a way that conflicted with all of my other name change data. US passports are good for TEN YEARS. I have just renewed mine two years prior. The passport agency saw fit to update the name change by typing (with a manual typewriter) the name change onto a random page in the passport. It looked like I could have done it myself, easily. For eight years, I dealt with the silly name mismatch and sketchy looking passport (the US would not issue a new passport, even if I offered them the full fee. For some reason I was too principled to claim to have lost it). Oh, the rage.

  184. makes me wonder what cher does when she travels? is it easier with no last name at all?
    and i’m just sayin’ that i think that woman wasn’t stupid so much as bitter and hostile. because to be that stupid would mean that she couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
    the lady on the balcony next to you is naked? (from the twitter feed)

  185. You are truly a gentle person and I seriously doubt that your state of mind could have generated electromagnetic flares of such magnitude to fry your camera. Mystery, that one. As for ASSWIPE Airlines, could you give us a clue as to which one it might have been. . . not that we would boycott, picket, or any other such thing. . .

  186. I’ll make a donation to MSF in exchange for the name of the freakin’ airline…… And you need to write several letters: Airline CEO, Prez, and Customer Service rep. With a copy of your post (no guarantees they’d ever use a link to it) Name names, especially the bozo behind the counter and her idiotic supervisor. I’d also write to your local papers, all your TV stations and, as Rams suggests, CNN. I wouldn’t protect those morons at the airlines.

  187. Yes, write to the highest of the high in that stupid airlines. Sanity should win out! Quote some Shakespeare, or some Dickens from Little Dorrit!! When my daughter was born in 1976 and I was a feminist I decided NOT to do a hyphenated last name because I thought the world was not ready–and computers hadn’t become involved with our lives at that point. I named her Annemarie (using two names written as one) followed by my last name followed by her father’s last name, as two names. I figured as she got older she could decide what to call herself. She could use both last names or just one. She could break apart her first name into two if she was embarrassed at having my last name as her middle name. How was I to know that computers would make this all impossible??
    What on earth do the computers do with cultures in which people have two last names that aren’t even hyphenated??? God save us!

  188. O………….MI……………..GOD.
    what else can be said in the presence of such overwhelming stupidity????
    sigh, enjoy florida.

  189. My blood pressure jumped about a hundred points reading about your travel travails. I think that indicates some sort of problem on my part. Hang in there; I’ll stay angry so you don’t have to.
    I have had two digital cameras die-for-no-reason after going through airport security. The airports insist their equipment does not harm digital cameras. I beg to differ.

  190. You know that for 25 plus years I have been thinking that I was K. H-D – but with the notice of the new rules above, I checked social security card and driver’s lisc.
    Turns out I’m K.H.D.
    Weird and rather anoying. But when I buy my next ticket, I’ll use their (quasi) logic rather than risk being stranded. GRRRRRR (need wool and beer – since I don’t know who I am).

  191. It is absolutely amazing – and a credit to you and the rest of the sane members of the human race – the when faced with a totally-left-what-little-of-commonsense-she-had-in-the-toilet customer SERVICE person, you don’t reach over the counter and B*&ch slap her within an inch of her life.
    Kudos to you!

  192. Lordy , someone could have driven you there by the time this clown figured it all out . Sometimes it pays to be a grouch of the first order right from the get go –the nicer you are the more of a wuss they think they are dealing with and they take all their frustrations out on you . Holy smoly this situation would have sent me right into ORBIT and the mounties might have had to be called. Oh my!!!! Take care and hopefully this does NOT happen again .

  193. Please tell us the airline in code form, e.g., “rhymes with___.” They must fix these things. We, the public, need to know! We’ll be polite but forearmed.

  194. If you were coming to WEBS, I would totally be buying you a new camera right now. My camera broke right after I bought my new house. I didn’t do anything to it, just one second it was working, and the next second, nothing. That sucked, and it wasn’t even a day like you had.
    I agree that I want to know what airline it was, because I will never fly with them. Do not piss off the internet, they will retaliate.

  195. That sounds like the kind of idiocy one expects at American airports. I hope we’re not exporting it.

  196. I work for Continental Airlines and can take support calls (like this one) and Jesus, Mary and Joseph I cannot believe this-it IS NOT A NAME CHANGE-it is there fault and the gate agent needs to be disciplined…if it is us I apoligize and I know that we would compnsate on this …I am so sorry for you!

  197. OMG!
    I too have a hyenated last name. Between credit card name, ticket name and drivers licence name we don’t have a prayer’s chance in Hell. Everyone divides it, shortens it, or switches it around. At the very least all that funny name stuff gets you a full body search at the airport as it automatically makes you suspicious.
    Oh, and don’t carry artifical sweetener packets (I’m diabetic). It clearly marks you as a drug runner! At this stage of the game, I could barely be a drug walker!

  198. Oh my LORD! Well, Mercury (communications, equipment, travel) IS retrograde right now… but dang! I don’t know what you were focusing on that manifested that kind of day. So sorry! But… perhaps there’s a really good cosmic reason to keep you off that flight–and you’ll find out later. And maybe there’s an even better camera awaiting you. That’s the only explanation. I wish you safe, uneventful travels from here on out.

  199. Is your camera a Cannon? My camera screen started turning purple and finally died. Cannon fixed it for free because the year mine was made they’d bought screens made by another (and apparently inferior) company. I never would have known if the nice fellow at the camera repair place hadn’t told me. I was ready to buy a whole new camera. It may be worth looking into.

  200. Perhaps you could get a second id with Pearl as your middle name. Then when you check in you could casually ask if they put the hyphen in so you would know which one to pull out of your wallet. We usually print our boarding passes ahead of time but I guess you could wind up with a TSA agent at the security line who wouldn’t let you pass. So sorry for your lousy start. At least you didn’t have to give up your needles.

  201. The airline industry is nuts, nuts I tell you, and not the nuts they no longer give you as a complimentary snack! Don’t get me started on the “yes, you booked your flight with a partner airline in Star Alliance, and yes, we’ve charged you baggage handling fees for flights you booked with our partner airline in Star Alliance, but I am sorry, we can’t help you find another flight home since you missed your connection due to your flight being delayed by one of our late planes because…you booked your flight with a partner airline in Star Alliance” fiasco we had at Christmas!

  202. I sincerely hope this post (and ALL of the comments offering to negatively affect their bottom line) are forwarded to the airline in question and the department of homeland insanity, er security. Such stupidity is SO discouraging….but rampant.
    I don’t fly anymore.
    I’d rather knit.
    Live long and prosper, dear.

  203. I hope your today has been much better for you! It really is a pain how disoriented computers and people get with hyphenated names. I have the same problems and you never know what you’ll be under or what kind of problem may come of it.

  204. I feel your pain. Although I haven’t been through the airport disaster that you went though, I am so tired of people not recognizing my last name. My husband and I have 2 names with a space in between that is legally our last name. People usually assume that it is a mistake and go with one name or the other, but very very very rarely do they acknowledge both names together making our last name. Soooooo tired of it!

  205. My mother had a hyphenated first name: George-Anna.
    People often just wanted her to be a George A. This caused her to get a draft notice, to wind up deceased at her university, and finally for Social Security here to turn her into A.H. George. In her 70s, she gave up and became Georgeanna. She died last year, and when I finally get her poetry book together she’s getting her hyphen back when we publish it.

  206. I’m a little late but I just wanted to say I’m sorry you had a crappy day.
    I wonder what they’d do with my name with TWO hyphens!

  207. So, it is wrong that I think your troubles are to come up to the Boston area where one of my friends had a beer that she liked (she is not a beer drinker) called Benevolence that clocked in at 12.6% alcohol. It’s a kindness to have something that tasty to drink for whenever everything hits the toilet.

  208. Have you thought of sending the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH story to Consumerist?

  209. This is beyond stupidity. This was mean. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened and I find it hard to believe that the problem couldn’t have been resolved had the person wanted to fix it. Karma is a bitch though and it will prevail.

  210. I know this is late to the party, and hopefully I won’t be drowned out by the spam, but I’ve seen enough of the wrong side of bureaucracy to kind of see where the check-in agent was coming from.
    There is no down side to her for telling you ‘no’. If someone attempts to impose adverse consequences, she retaliates with “I was strictly following policy. Her middle name is clearly not Pearl.”, and everyone shrugs and gets on with their life. Meanwhile, if she tells you ‘yes’, there is the remotest possibility that some supervisor will audit her work and demand to know why she let you on the plane when your middle name is clearly not Pearl – this would involve a supervisor as unwilling to involve common sense in the process as she was, but it *might* happen, so telling you ‘no’ is clearly the safer course of action.
    The only way to create a down side to the employee’s behavior is to complain to the airline – and mention the employee by name if you got it! Especially if the hyphen thing is a known issue with the ticketing software, enough complaints about poor service might get policy changed so that Stephanie Pearl McPhee is officially the same person as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. (I don’t think policy will ever be changed so that using common sense in the name of good customer service is a winner for the low-level employee, though.)

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