May 15, 2009

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.

That said... HOLY ÎÏ©∑´®†Á¨ˆØ!!!! THIS HAS BEEN A CRAPPY DAY.

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.)

Posted by Stephanie at May 15, 2009 7:09 PM