Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Up, up, and away...or not

Monday, we were scheduled to depart again for subtropical Illinois, to observe our second site visit. The morning's start doesn't bode well for the rest of the day, when I call the Brunette Leg and find out if she'll be ready when I swing by to pick her up for work, only to find out she's had food poisoning and has been driving the porcelain bus since 9 pm last night.

(Re: The "Leg" thing...there were 3 of us that started in our department at the same time, and they've been lumping us together for training, the site visit observations, etc., and then teasing us about one not going anywhere without the others...so, we started calling ourselves "The Tripod," and oddly enough, there's a brunette "leg", a blonde "leg" (me), and a redheaded "leg." Personally, I wanted to go old school with a variation on Charlie's Angels, but I wasn't sure anyone else would go for it. And, I gotta have names for these people, so we can keep them all straight.)

She says that she thinks she can make, so I tell her to take it easy, and I'll come get her on the way to the airport. I picked her up around 11, and she was alternating between white, gray, and green...sort of like a chameleon, but without the tail. We get to the airport only to find that our flight is overbooked. The amazingly nice and lovely gate agent, LaTonya, worked her magic computing fingers off to try and get us all on the flight because we were traveling together. This was in the midst of people trying to cut in line in front of us, trying to tell the gate agents why they were more important than anyone else and Must Get On This Flight!

(This is the part where I really begin to wonder again about why the hell did I think going back to work was a good idea.)

And, then there's the age-old questions of why does having a flight delay bring out all the goobers?

There was some dude with a government ID card that kept sticking it between The Brunette and our team lead and waving it in a vain attempt to get the agent's attention while she was trying to re-book us. Like it was going to get him some sort of perk and make the rest of revel in his importance. Ha. So, you got a government ID. That don't impress me much, because 1) if you were an air marshall, you'd have a seat with no problem; 2) you obviously aren't active duty with that Buddha belly and the utility belt full of PDAs and cell phones, so again, why do you need to be on the plane any more than the rest of us?, and 3) do you really think that the rest of us have nothing better to do on this fine 70-degree sunny Southern day than stand around in the airport and clamor for seats on a full plane? Cowboy up, buddy and wait your turn like everyone else.

It turns out that all of us can get a seat except for the Brunette...crap icing on her lousy day cake, for sure. She's got the lowest status with the airline, so she's on standby in hopes that someone will take the bump. The gate agent is sending out a plea with the promise of rebooking and $400 in airline bucks, but only 1 guy comes forward. And, it's looking like the next (and last) flight is overbooked as well.

Meanwhile, the Brunette is continuing to do the chameleon thing, but now the order is more of white to gray to white to gray...sort of a pale strobe effect. If she truly gets bumped off the flight, it's going to be a real bitch for her to get home, since I drove her, much less get her luggage back and then get back to the airport tomorrow for a flight. I tell the team lead that since I didn't check a bag, it would be easier for me to give up my seat and take the flight tomorrow, and that way they could get the Brunette to the hotel and into bed for some rest. We work it out with the gate agent, and she gives me a seat on the next afternoon's flight, the airline bucks, and a meal voucher.

Seeing as how I'm a bit peckish, I decide to grab a bite before heading home. I take the train over to the A Concourse and plop down at the Chili's. It was busy, and I had to wait a little bit for a waitperson to take my order, and it was starting to get busier.

I'm reading my book, munching on my salad, when I become aware of a commotion two tables over from me. There's a guy who starts screaming at the waitress about where was his salad and told her to get it out "f*cking now!" She goes to check on it, comes back with it in hand, and asks him if he would like another drink. "F*ck yes! and on the house!," he screams back at her.
The woman seated next to me rolls her eyes, and we both sort of mutter "asshole," under our breath. The guy continues to get belligerent with the wait staff, and the manager comes over to talk with him, as I'm getting up to leave. He's cursing at the manager about the service, and I've just had enough of his crap. I look over at him, catch his eye, and say "you know, if you weren't such a jerk, you might get better service." "F*ck you!", he says. I just look at him, shake my head, and give him the universal sign for tiny penis (Ladies, you know what I mean--take your thumb and your forefinger and hold them about 2 inches apart. They know what it means.), and I walk out. Evidently, the manager throws him out right after I leave, because he's behind me on the down escalator, giving me the stink eye. Part of me thinks that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to confront such an asshole, but the other half figures I'll just heave my laptop bag at him if he messes with me. He's a little guy, and I'm pretty sure I can take him.

Honestly, who in their right mind screams and curses at the waitstaff and then expects to eat the food they serve you? Not that I'm advocating doing anything to someone's food to harm them, but really, think about it. If you have an issue with a wait person, you either ask to speak to the manager or express your displeasure in the lack of tip you leave; you don't curse at them. Ever.

But, what if the wait person does something to your food? Or, maybe it's not the wait person, but the owner of the restaurant who serves food that has been misrepresented? Case in point, on the local news last night, there was an I-Team investigation of a German-style restaurant that has been accused of serving pork in the place of veal in the weiner schnitzel and representing it as veal. (This restaurant also has an attached bakery that was the subject of another investigation that involved it being closed by the Health Department, because of a little "rodent problem.")

That, my friends, opens a whole new can of worms on the contract between the restaurant and the patron. Restaurants have a responsibility to serve you what they say they are serving you--remember the whole discussion about prime beef and Black Angus? And, if you're serving pork in the place of beef and you happen to have customers who keep kosher or are Muslim, then you really are living the snafu life. Most people don't quite get that folks who don't eat pork for religious reasons are really serious about it, and absolutely will not feel too kindly towards someone who has caused them to become unclean. And, they've also been hitting people in their wallets, too, because we all know veal cost waaaay more than pork. Should be interesting to hear how this turns out.

So, I did make it to subtropical Illinois...having left a beautiful sunny 72-degree day and ended up in semi-frozen hell...it was 30 when I landed, and it's supposed to sleet tomorrow.

Oh, joy.

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