Friday, July 26, 2013
I suppose thatís a potential hazard any time you utilize an ice pack that consists of a) real ice and b) an evidently non-leakproof plastic bag. The funny thing is that I didnít notice it while I was sitting down, nor until Iíd climbed a flight of stairs and stood before the bathroom mirror, at which point, the dark stain on the gray shirt became undeniable and warranted further investigation, whereupon the wet pants were discovered.
No matter, being at home, plenty of alternate shorts were readily available, and I told advantage of the wardrobe malfunction to step on the scale, where my suspicions were confirmed Ė the higher weight observed on Wednesday was, indeed and in fact, the result of a sodium bomb, delivered via chicken pot pie at an Irish restaurant, consumed the night before. I suppose it could have been worse Ė the sodium weapon might have sneaked in via the guise of a canister of Pringles.
Lest I fall asleep, leaving you wondering what I was doing molesting an ice pack in the first place, I should, I suppose tell the tale of a less than wonderful Thursday, where I might have abused a poor girl over the telephone. She had it coming, though, being rather less than useless. I supposeÖwell, letís set the scene, shall we?
Iím running a bit late Thursday morning; the angstiness I expressed in the preivous blog is affecting, as does everything, it seems, my sleep, and I was up a bit too late Wednesday night, and Iím running a bit late Thursday morning. I donít grab the free breakfast at the Hampton Inn, opting instead for one of its Breakfast To Go bags, now featuring mini Chips Ahoy Cookies! I grab one and go to my vehicle, which insists that the Miles to go until Empty is ď====Ē, as opposed to the ď50Ē it read when I last used the car the night before. Not knowing how ==== translates to Arabic numerals, I briefly consider stopping at a gas station before work, rather than between work and the airport. After all, I had a ~4:30 flight, and Iíd be scrambling to try and finish up a last few things before I had to leave, and Iíd probably leave around 3:10, as usually happens, leaving previous little time to actually fill the tank. But, as I have mentioned previously, I am running late, and I decide to proceed directly to work, do not collect a tankful of gasoline, or the caffeine that might have been available inside the store dispensing said gasoline.
Itís about 8:20 as I make the turn onto Dempster, the street hosting the building in which I toil away gainfully. Cross under the highway (I-294, if you must know), and traverse the block to my usual parking lot. As Iím running late, fretting over how much I might actually manage to accomplish before I have to leave for the airport, a glance tells me the lot is filled, and Iíll have to drive on a block further. I look ahead, see the street where I will turn up ahead AND SUUDENLY OMG IíM STARING AT THE SIDE OF AN SUV.
It really was like that. No chance whatsoever to avoid the collision, my right front corner into her driverís side door and BOOM! AIRBAG DEPLOYS IN YO FACE! Or in this case, in my face. Suddenly, Iím making that left turn into the lot I just rejected as a parking space a moment ago, because it was full, due to my being late. Except rather than turning in the space designated for such turns, Iím merrily bumping my way over the median (not a full sized curb) and then over (yep, you guessed it, a full size) curb into that very same parking lot.
I did have a thought during the unintended crossing of the opposing lanes of traffic that I might as well keep going over the curb, not that I was particularly aware of not wanting to come to a stop in the middle of the road. I think I was more concerned at the moment about why it smelled like something was burning, which, apparently is a reaction that a lot of people have when airbags go off. Having never been in such a situation, I didnít know.
When I come to a stop, I get a phone call via the car. At first, I think maybe my cell phone got bounced around during the tumult and pocket dialed someone via Bluetooth, but thatís not the case. Itís Hyundaiís customer service (I was driving a 2013 Sonata, a rental, a fact that Iíd yet to mention but shall play a featured role in the remainder of this chronicle) responding to their sensors telling them that the vehicle had been in an accident. That call might well have stopped me from losing my s**t towards the woman who had caused the accident, whose vehicle had stopped to my left, but which showed no signs of damage on the front end, so far as I could see. In fact, I wasnít sure that that was the vehicle Iíd hit, and I told the disembodied voice as much.
UmmÖit being near 1:30 in the morning in my head, and 2:30 in the morning, Iím going to save the rest for later (or not), but here are a few highlights, if you can call them such.
My right hand, the pinky side swelling up nicely, enough so that I, who never goes to the doctor unless compelled, took a two block ambulance ride for a hurt hand. Man, did I ever feel like a dumbarse about that.
Two stellar hours in the ER, sitting around, waiting to hear that I should ice the hand and take ibuprofen. I felt even more stupid about going to the ER afterwards, but the hand did swell up at a pretty fast clip.
An hour and a half, on hold with National Car Rental, getting hung up on by their system multiple times, talking to the roadside assistance people, who apparently all needed to hear every detail every time, rather than using the notes the previous people had entered.
Arranging to get the vehicle, which had stayed parked diagonally across the words ďno parkingĒ all day, towed by someone contracted by National Car Rental, a process that started at 12:30, after Iíd walked the mile from the hospital back to work (it would have helped if Iíd turned the right way out of the Er, but I went to the far corner before turning back Ė Iím so totally claiming that as exercise, though intentional it wasnít exactly), and seemed to be settled with the tow truck due at 2:45. I set up a cab for 3:10, which absent the need for getting gas, and returning the rental car, would provide plenty of time to get to my flight.
At 3:10, greeting the cab, and telling them that I had to wait for the tow truck, as I was told, and telling the cabbie that I had no idea what time theyíd show up. Not wanting to pay 40 cents a minute for the meter to run for who knows how long, since I have no freaking clue that at that moment, back up in my office, I was getting a voice mail telling me theyíd be there in about ten minutes, I dismissed the guy. He was a surly greek dude, probably would have been mad, even if the meter was running.
15 minutes later, I get a phone call from the tow guy, he just needs me to sign a form, and away he goes. I should have kept the cab around, who knew? Too late at this point to call for another one, and get to O Hare, and through rush hour security lines and to my flight, so I enquire about changing to a later flight. FOUR HUNDRED BUCKS FOR THE FLIGHTS LEAvING ThAT NiGHt! 200 for the ones next morning. Which would require hotel accomodations. I also didnít have a car at this point, a slight issue. Put in an e-mail to the business manager at the hotel Iíll be staying at next week, seeing if I could get a room for that very night at our special corporate rate. This is a guy who once responded within three minutes when he was on vacation, so of course, I donít hear back over the next hour. Arrange with my colleague in the next office, who happens to be staying in that hotel, for a ride, if I get that room. Look at Deltaís web site just curious as to what the fare were for one way trips tonight, and I see that thereís a one way trip for $254. As opposed to the $400, for rebooking the already paid flightís return trip. While Iím looking at this, Iím talking to National car rental again, a company with which I have top status in their rental club thingy (Emerald Club), and inquiring about what they might be able to do for me, since after all, it was their contracted helpís (the 35 minutes late tow guy) fault that I was in the process of missing my flight. She gave me nothing, and went on to say something about since I had a hotel lined up, when all I said was that Iíd have to get a hotel for the night. My frustrations might have slightly boiled over, when I corrected her, saying, no, itíd cost me $400, or $200, plus the hotel room Iíd have to get because your guy was a half hour later than heíd said he be there. She put me on hold; when she got back, she told me she talked to her manager, and they could offer to reimburse me for a taxi to the airport.
Of course, that would do me no good whatsofreakingever (imagine a word other than Ďfreakingí in there, and then congratulate me for not using that sentence in my conversation with this idiot child. I mean, itís your fault, or as she tried to claim, their contracted guyís fault that I was facing having to pay $400 freaking dollars on top of what Iíd previously paid because freaking (word substitution again) Delta somehow bizarrely claims that since Iíd already used the outbound flight, by booking didnít have any value (trust me, that was a bizarre conversation, where the Delta agent was essentially speaking in tongues, and wouldnít give me the satisfaction of acknowledging that every economy seat was exactly like every other economy seat (with the exception of exit row seats), regardless of how many alphabet fare classes they come up with. Trust me, the ones in the 8th row, just behind the economy comfort class seats, are exactly the same as the ones all the way in the back, right up against the bathroom.
Going back to the cold-hearted National girl, I found out that it was somehow my fault, that because Iíd dismissed the cab myself (true), regardless of the fact that 5 floors above, I was being left a message that this time, for real, the tow truck was coming, FOR REAL! And so, sorry, we canít do anything for you, other than offer you a taxi to the airport. I declined, politely. Honest, I was polite. The steam might have been on the verge of boiling, but it was still contained. And then she had the audacity to ask whether she could help me with anything else. The steam boiled over, and I told her, ďWhy start now, you havenít helped me with anything so far.Ē She said something briefly, which I couldnít hear for the steam whistling in my ears, and hung up. I really do hope, as is so often mentioned while waiting for customer service to pick up, that that phone call was monitored or even recorded for quality purposes. Because that was a master class in how to piss off a heretofore loyal customer.
I called Delta back, now armed with the information that there were cheaper one way flights. The first person insisted that the $400 was correct, that I had to pay the change booking fee, and then the difference between the fares. I still didnít see how the 360 I paid initially for a outbound and inbound flight didnít amount to their $200 change fee plus 254 -180 (one way ticket available minus half the original price) = 275 rather than 400. So I hung up and tried again, hoping the roulette wheel would land me on someone who not only had an imagination, but might possibly be sympathetic enough to use it on behalf of the customers she was supposed to be serving.
I got luck on the latest spin of the wheel, and she actually looked up the one way fare for 254 I was talking about. Her math worked out even better than mine, since she knew the term ďsame day rebookingĒ, and said that amounted to 50 bucks plus fare difference, ending in a price of $140. I thought that was good enough, but she ran into a snag and had to hand it off to another user, who had more power than she did to select the kind of flight that we were talking about, and that user, lo and behold, had more tricks up their sleeve, and ended up charging me just 90 bucks to change the flight.
Thatís more like what Iíve been led to expect by experienced travelers, that itíd in the in the 100 range to re-book flights. Maybe itís their experience that gives them status that makes it cheaper? Who knows, but in the end, I got down to a number I could deal with. Sure, I ended up having to pay a taxi an addition 50 bucks to get me home from the airport, pretty much taking it back up to the 140 level, but still, the principle worked, the principle of a company not actively striving to screw over their clients. Delta actually earned back most of the credit which, during the late afternoon, theyíd lost in the process of making me want to punch a wall with my already damaged hand.
And now Iíve rambled on for 45 minutes after I said I was stopping. Bottom line, I was supposed to have a relatively short day, where I was precluded from doing too much work by meeting and early flight, and it turned out to be the longest day Iíve experienced in quite a while.