Thursday, January 20, 2011


Ellie is dressed in the outfit that John and Cheryl sent her, and this afternoon I am going to have a Buchner-style gin and tonic (you pour the gin, show it to the tonic, and add a lime).

It's the best I can do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is what happened.

My uncle John died suddenly early last week. This guy right here:

He was my mom's oldest brother and always looked after her when she was little. He was a paratrooper in Vietnam. He once rolled a tractor and broke his back. He made the world's most wonderful dollhouse for his daughter, my cousin Beth, which was later handed down to me and was my favorite thing in the whole world. (I think Beth's daughter has it now, which makes me happy.) He built his own flying machine. He had a pet alligator named Grumpy. (There were originally two alligators, but I think Grumpy killed the other one a while back.) I always sort of thought he was immortal. It is really, really hard to adjust to the idea of a world with no John in it.

Incidentally, last Thursday was the 14th anniversary of my dad's death. So a lot of this feels like a weird echo of January 1997.

At first I didn't think I would be able to make it to the funeral, but then I started playing around with the frequent flyer miles I earned with Northwest/KLM when we went to Zanzibar a couple of years ago. And lo and behold, I was able to make it work.

I should have known better. After all, Northwest is the airline who once left my grandmother at the wrong gate and refused to compensate her when she missed her flight. But they've merged with Delta since then so I thought it might be a little bit better. I was wrong.

This started off being entirely my fault. I am constantly underestimating how long it takes to get moving with the baby, and I left the house a good 30 minutes later than I meant to. So of course by the time I got to the highway, the morning commute had started and the traffic was wretched. It took me nearly 90 minutes to get to the airport. And of course I was too late. They close check-in one hour before the flight leaves, and I think I got to the desk about ten minutes too late.

And this is where Delta starts to fucking suck, pardon my language but this calls for words much worse than that one. The woman at the check-in counter was unbelievably rude. She started off by lecturing me on when I should have arrived at the airport, then heaved a sigh and acted like it was the world's biggest inconvenience to find me another flight. For some reason it was more difficult than she wanted it to be, so she started making rude comments about me, right in front of me, to her colleague at the next desk and to the people she was speaking with on the phone. And then she informed me that since all of this was my own fault, I was just going to have to go to the gate and throw myself on the mercy of the attendants there, since she couldn't book me a seat on the flight. And then informed that I had to pay a $50 change fee plus $25 to check my suitcase. Even though she could see that I was traveling on my own with a baby, and even after I told her that I was going to a funeral, and even after I cried a few times - and not even on purpose, I was just so upset and stressed out that I broke down a little - this woman refused to budge on any of it.

That is when I lost it. I started crying again, mostly out of frustration and rage, and Ellie joined in this time because she is such a helpful and obliging child. I told her to cancel everything, back it all out because I had to go make a phone call, and informed her that if this was the level of service I could expect from Delta then I would go well out of my way to avoid flying with them ever again. AND SHE STILL ARGUED WITH ME. Insisted that this was just policy, blah blah blah, and when I told her she was being rude she contradicted me. At this point I think I said something like, "Thanks, you have made a terrible day SO MUCH WORSE," and walked away with her still shouting after me, but I had stopped paying attention by then so I have no idea what she was saying.

Now, I'm sure that I was not the world's most pleasant person to deal with this morning, but I really was trying. And her behavior was really unacceptable.

So I got myself over to a chair and called Mr. Canuck, tried to explain what happened but mostly just sobbed at him for a while until I could get the story out. Then I called my mom and let her know what was going on. She calmed me down a bit and told me to think it out and figure out what was going to be the best thing for me, and to let her know what I decided. So I sat down, thought it out, weighed the pros and cons, and finally decided to head back home. At that point it would have just been so fucking difficult to get on another plane, plus I had a fussy, tired, hungry baby with me and it would have been at least three hours before I could get a flight out, if then. It was just too much.

So here I am, back at home, even though I should have been landing in Fargo right this very minute. I did call Delta to a) complain and b) see if anything could be done, but it didn't really help. When the first lady couldn't tell me a damned thing (I absolutely hate it when people are obviously reading from a script and can't be bothered to actually act like human beings), I asked for a supervisor. She was much nicer but still nothing really came of it. The only other flight that would get me there in time leaves at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and after today's experience I can say pretty confidently that that would not work out. She is going to get in touch with the counter at Pearson and report the lady I dealt with, though. She apologized pretty profusely, which was nice to hear but really didn't mean much in the end.

On the upside, I do get to re-book that ticket anytime in the next year. So there's that. If I am brave enough to risk dealing with these people again.

Also, I am really wishing I had Dooce's clout right now, because I would really love a repeat of the Maytag incident.

Anyhow. The upshot of all this is that I am not in Minnesota, I am not with my family, I am not attending the funeral of my wonderful uncle whom I miss terribly, and because of all this I am pretty goddamned miserable. You guys, I am so sorry that I am not there with you. I really did try my best, but my best was not good enough. I am more sorry than I know how to say.