A couple of years ago two of my friends and I took one of the most bungled backpacking trips through western Europe. I don’t have evidence of this, but if I were to list the series of unfortunate events laced through the tapestry of our adventure, you would agree that our story was lampoon worthy.
The climax of these mishaps occurred in Paris. Dan, Jaime and I were scheduled to board a 10:45 train to Venice, with Jaime in charge of the tickets. For a reason that not even hindsight can enlighten, Dan and I entrusted the tickets to Jaime without ever double-checking the time. But when we arrived at the station, there was no train. That’s weird, we thought. But we assumed it was only delayed.
But the only occurring delays were the synapses firing in Jaime’s brain. Because the train was not scheduled for 10:45, but 20:45. And anyone who knows how to translate American hours into European time, would realize that we were not scheduled to leave at 10:45, but at 20:45 hours.
For a very eternal half an hour it seemed that there would be no trains that evening. We had no place to sleep in Paris, and all hostels were booked. Because of him, it looked like we might be joining the bums for the night. I sat on bench chain-smoking, plotting Jaime’s death. As I took slow deliberate drags from my cigarette, I envisioned places that I could put out the burning butt on his body. Frustrated, Dan asked me for a cigarette. “But you don’t smoke,” I said. “No,” he answered. “But now’s a good time to start.”
And this is why I believe that Jaime is running American Airlines, and why he must step down.
Despite my aversions to moving to hick-town, I was pumped for my NC interview. Free flight, hotel and even a chauffeur. A chauffeur! They actually called it a chauffeur on the itinerary! I hoped he would be British. I hoped he would be called Wellington and wear a cap. My very own chauffeur. I imagined a delightful ride to the agency in the morning.
“Dear Wellington, sir!”
“Yes, Madame, Concha?
“This caviar is delightful, but I must say I hate Moet!”
“Yes, Madame. It is truly the Budweiser of Champagne.”
“Do you presume, sire, that we could pullover and get some Perrier Joet? Perhaps a bottle of Blanc de Blanc?”
“Why of course, Madame. Anything for Madame Concha!”
(In case you're wondering, yes, you should also imagine that I have a British accent in this scene.)
The sound of haughty white laughter filled my head until my dream sequence was interrupted by an announcement by one American Airlines counter people. (What the hell do you call those people that work at the desk?)
“Attention passengers on flight 6473 with nonstop service to Raleigh/Durham. Your flight has been cancelled.”
“WHY IS IT CANCELLED?” I demanded of the fat Jamaican counter woman after standing in line for a half hour. “Why? Tell me why. I wanna know why exactly I’m going to be late for my job interview tomorrow.”
“It is broken.” She snapped.
“It’s fucking ‘broken?’ What the fuck do you mean it’s fucking broken?”
“And if it was broken,” chimed in a very angry girl in line next to me, “Why the hell did you wait to tell us until ten minutes before the plane took off?”
“Well maybe you were not listening when I made the announcement.”
I wanted to say, “Listen you fat piece of poor excuse for a woman. I know your husband stopped fucking you 8 years ago due to the incredibly large tire around your waist you call a stomach and that nasty patch of black hair on your upper lip. I know your misery increases every time you’re forced to look in a mirror, but you are not going to ruin my job interview. Job interview? Know what that is? Oh that’s right. You wouldn’t. Cause you work for American fucking Airlines and they handed out this job to everyone who passed their GED exam in the lobby of the test building. Just think of it like this. You’re going to put me on a plane. And that plane is going to be tonight. Do you understand? Or can you not hear me becasue you stuffed some Twinkies in your ears? ”
Instead, I tried calling their 1-800 number.
“Yep. It’s cancelled.” She said. “All we have is a 7:10 flight in Newark.”
“Lady have you looked at a map lately?”
“I’m standing at the counter of a LaGuardia terminal and you think I can make it to New Jersey in 30 minuets? But how would you know that? I don’t think geography is a section on the GED.” Ok, I didn’t say that last part.
“Well then you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow.”
“Well then you’re going to have to put me in a hotel at the airport since the flight is so early.”
“What do you mean, ‘no?’ You guys had a schedule and you’re supposed to keep it. And if you can’t you’re supposed to accommodate me.”
“No. We won’t”
“NO. You will.”
“NO? NO WONDER YOU GUYS ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!” I slammed my phone shut. Humph.
I don’t know what I was most pissed off about. The cancelled flight, the unaccommodating woman, or my lame ass comeback.
I looked up from my phone and in the face of another counter person.
“So you have a 6:45?” Smile cutely. You need something from him.
Five minutes later, I was booked for an AM flight. I wasn’t happy about the time. Nor the fact that I’d have to get up at 4:30. Nor that I’d be deliriously tired for my day tomorrow. But the next flight wasn’t until 9:30 and I had to make my interview.
Nice hotel room. Bigger than the shoebox. Wireless internet. Shower. Order some lame, yet kinda expensive room service, including half a carafe of “red wine” to calm the nerves. (In the spirit of NC, i probably should have picked the "white zinfandale" option.) At first it looked as if I wouldn’t be able to drink all of it. But the funny thing about wine is, a little goes down and all the sudden you’re wishing you ordered the whole carafe. (And an 8-ball).
For some reason I couldn’t sleep all night. (No, I didn’t order an 8-ball). Combination of nerves and fear that my wakeup call would never ring me awake. Perhaps it wasn’t fear, but rather my psychic powers. Because that phone never rang. The only reason I was up, was because I never really went to sleep.
“I never got my wakeup call.” I said flatly to the hotel receptionist. I was too tired for anger. Plus he seemed like a nice old man. The screw up couldn’t have been his fault. Unlike that fat American Airlines lady, who probably dropped a burrito in the propeller and was obviously personally responsible for the nonworking airplane.
“No,” I answered with the same dull flatness that comes from a night of no sleep. “No call.”
“What time was it supposed to be?”
“And you never got it?”
“Luckily I never went to sleep,” I said.
“You know what.” He raised my room service bill in the air. “I’m just gonna take care of this for you.”
I cracked my first smile in 20 hours. But it went away when I realized, since the bill was comped, I really should have ordered a full bottle of wine. For this I also blame the Jamaican. (Who works at AMERICAN AIRLINES).
Back to the airport. Early. Coffee. Adweek. Plans to power nap on my way there. “Ok, take two,” I thought, and boarded the plane.
The coffee was still working, so I continued to read my magazine on the plane. But a few minutes into taxi, my eyes were beginning to droop shut. That’s when I felt it.
THUD. My eyes snaped open. That couldn't be good.
“A truck hit the plane!” A passenger shouted.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.
“A fuel truck!” someone else cried.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. We’re going to fucking blow up.
First, I want to ask, how does one crash their truck into a stopped airplane? It’s not like he accidentally backed over a squirrel. A plane is big. Huge. When someone says they like whores the size of airplanes, we know they ain’t banging supermodels. So how can someone look into their review mirror and miss a fucking airplane? But despite questions of logic, this genius driver plowed into a glaring example of his own stupidity. Canceling my second attempt to get to Durham on time. Last night’s plane wasn’t working. This time, someone’s brain wasn’t either. My guess the driver was a fat Jamaican woman. Either that or she had something to do with it.
Deplane. Stand in line of irate travelers. Plot Jamaican-me-crazy’s death.
A few phone calls later my interviews and chauffeur were rescheduled. My later flight would now be on US Air. And unlike AMERICAN AIRLINES, they actually seemed to know how to keep a schedule and avoid trucks containing fuel.
And this brings me back to you, Jaime. I implore you. Please step down from your position as runner of American Airlines. You’re a fine copywriter and that job should keep you busy enough. Running an airline is too big a responsibility for an extracurricular activity. Sell it. Get out now. Cause I got a schedule to keep. And aren’t you tired of staring at that nasty patch of hair on the Jamaican woman’s lip?