Friday, August 18, 2006

Starting Over: Part the 1st

Well, here I sit: the television and air conditioning providing white noise, my mother's couch a little bit of comfort, and my hometown a depressing reminder of a lifetime past. How is this post supposed to start? How am I supposed to start? It's hard here: everything is exactly the same as I remember. No surprises, but so difficult to adjust to. I am confused and surprised by the most everyday of things. How do I start?
I guess the airport is a good place...
I arrived at the American Airlines check-in with 1 and 1/2 hours before my flight's departure. I got in line to check-in and waited. And waited. And waited.
With 30 minutes to spare, I got to the counter and was told that my baggage was too heavy-- 80$ too heavy. I checked my bags and walked over to the AA customer service counter to pay the 80$. My card was declined.
"Looks like you went a little overboard with the shopping"
"That's appropriate, thank you." I replied. "I'm going to the ATM-- I'll be right back." I've experienced problems with credit card machines and find ATMs to be almost 100 percent reliable.
The ATM declined my card as well. This frustrated me on several levels:
1) I knew I had money in my account-- I checked the balance online that morning.
2) The airline had already tagged and sent off my luggage
3) My flight was supposed to leave in about 10 minutes
4) I had no other way to pay the 80$. I made a point to spend all of my cash before getting to the airport, I had no American dollars, and none of my other cards.
I returned to Mr. Smug sitting behind his customer service counter...

"So you believe me now?"
"What are my options here? I need to get on that plane, but I have no way of paying you... I don't know what to do."
"Why would you do this? Do you have any idea how late you are? You have to pay or lose your ticket."
"I wouldn't do this-- I didn't! I don't know why my card isn't working."
"Do you have a phone number in the States"
"YES!" I replied thinking he was going to take all of my information down and work out a way for me to take care of this problem from Seattle.
While I wrote out any and every piece of personal info. I could think of, he had begun helping someone else.

"Hello! Pay attention! I need her credit card number and expiration date as fast as possible."
"Whaaa? Whose credit card? What are you talking about?"
"Do you want my help?"
"Do you want to make your flight?"
"Then you need to pay attention: I'll need her credit card information."
I looked at the woman standing at the counter next to me in confusion
"Sir, what are you talking about, whose?
"How should I know, whoever is on the phone! Whose number did you give me?"
"My mother's-- It's 3 am there! You called her? Fine, give me the phone!"
"uhhh, wait just a minute, I need to take her off can't just pick up my phone!"
I talked to my very groggy mother for about 5 seconds, gave him her info, and got on my flight after I cut to the front of the passport check-in line, darted up the escalator tubes, cut through the security line, and ran, and ran, and ran.
The plane had not even begun to board when I reached the gate.
When we did board, the plane sat on the tarmac for 1 and 1/2 hours.