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Friday, November 28, 2014

What Happens in Phoenix...

...doesn't exist, evidently.

Lemme splain. No, is too much. Lemme som opp.  Joan and I flew to Phoenix to see my mom and dad for Thanksgiving. Or at least we tried to fly to Phoenix.  Things started going wrong the second the Super Shuttle showed up. It never would have occurred to me that now, in the Common Era 2014, they might not be disabled accessible. But the guy showed up, and he had a van that could only be reached by climbing up into it. Fine for me but not for Joan, who's been hobbling around with a cane for the last couple of weeks. Bad knee. And bad foot. And sometimes both a bad knee and a bad foot. Anyway, after three failed attempts, we finally put her in the front seat, with both me and the Super Shuttle guy giving her a mighty push from the rear.  Mission accomplished, but I had no idea how I was going to get her back out again.

Matters did not improve once we got to the airport, either. Yes, we got Joan back out of the van (gravity is your friend), but the ticket agent had a problem with us.  See, we had three tickts and only two human beings. This was beause we were flying on Mas Barato Airlines. Mas Barato is a fine airline, but if you look like you're too large to fit into one of their 16" seats (which covers a lot of tall people, as well as fat people), they've been known to pull you out of line and make you buy another seat on the spot. Especially if you're a woman (there was a lawsuit about this).  We buy three seats together, which means we get a row to ourselves. It's a whole lot easier to just buy the extra seat when you book the flight, but we never, and I do mean never, get through the airport without a lot of hassle when we do this.

In this instance, the ticket agent couldn't get her machine to print us a boarding pass for the third seat. She had to call her supervisor. 25 minutes later she was still on the phone, saying things like "The what screen?" and "What's that? I've never heard of that." Joan, meanwhile, had asked for a wheelchair, but none had ever shown up. She headed off to the ladies' room right around the time the boarding pass had finally printed. By now, we had about 15 minutes to make the plane.

I took the boarding passes and sprinted for the ladies' room, where I caught up with Joan and where, by some miracle, the wheelchair finally caught up with us. The TSA let us go through the wheelchair line, which was a lot shorter, and the wheelchair took off running on the other side while I was still putting my shoes back on. I ran like the hounds of Pink Floyd were at my heels, but I didn't catch up until I got to the actual gate. By then they were wheeling Joan down the jetway, and we collapsed into our private row just before the doors shut and the engines roared to life. Whew.

Okay, we're on the right plane and it's going the right direction and all should be well from here on out, right? Um, no. After we got to Phoenix, we got an email from the airline that since we'd failed to show up for our flight out, they were cancelling our flight back. Now, I like Phoenix, but I had no intention of staying there, so I called Mas Barato Airlines to find out what was going on. After i'd told my story to successively higher-placed supervisors, I finally got one that seemed to know what was going on. At least until she asked me, "Are you sure you're in Phoenix?"

Am I sure I'm in Phoenix. Ponder that for a moment. Existential questions aside (how, for example, does anyone know they're really in Phoenix?) that was something I'd never considered before. I mean, maybe I was in Hawaii. Lots of sun, lots of sand. Maybe I was in Aruba. Jamaica. Bermuda? Bahama? Anyway; I said the first thing that came to mind, which was "I beg your pardon?" And she repeated it. "Are you sure you're in Phoenix?" Honestly, don't they teach you to listen to your own questions in customer service school?

Well, I finally admitted to being sure I was in Phoenix, since, uh, I actually was in Phoenix (or Chandler, if you want to get picky).  And another long silence followed, after which she told me that the originating airport had blah blah blah something technical, which had caused blah blah blah something else technical,and in other words they were blaming the computer. But, no harm no fowl, we still had reservations to fly back to Dallas. Which was all I really cared about, so I let the rest slide. But I wonder what's gonna happen when we get to the airport to fly home. Maybe they'll ask if I'm sure I'm at Sky Harbor. Or worse, Albuquerque.

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