Sound the bugle

A day of turmoil- Response and Responsibility

Posted in The circus has landed by justescaped on March 19, 2007

It is so, that when a graduate student of limited means plans a recluse along the sunny coasts of Western Europe to purport an ill-deserved vacation, factors greater than his advisor and purveyor of his bread and b. intervene, causing a stir of emotions so deep, that only Jane Austen could engineer a witty ending to this statement.

As it happened, four players dealt their hands in this twisted twisted saga of morality, woe, response and responsibility.

Come last friday, a fluctuation in the north-easterly cloud coverage led to an unexpectedly low visibility in the atmosphere surrounding New York’s JFK airport. This aberration, which has also been attributed to the over-smoking yuppie population of the upper East side, led a certain airline company N (for NorthWest) to cancel their already shaky half-commitment to their client , me, which was that that if I pay a large portion of my month’s take-ins, they would fly me and the wife and our modest belongings to New York if it doesn’t interfere with their delicate sensibilities and important business visions. An ordinary happenstance, may it be called by some, but sinister it was deemed by me, for 5 times have I been stood up by this company in just our last 3 dates. As well put by a certain Mr. Bond, thrice + is enemy action. I should take the hint, but too wily are its charms.

A quick but utterly useless call confirmed my worst fears, that my fate was left in the hands of another dame, a certain Mrs O (for Orbitz) who dealt me the fateful tickets in the first place. Cruel were my dealings with her, for a phone call was not considered worth picking up unless I was on hold for 30 minutes. And that was just the first attempt. Eventually, she responded, only for me to be shown the door of another dame, A (for American), whom she claimed had all my money. Before I could say what, the phone slammed shut and poor me, already feeling the desolate chills of the New York weather in my Minnesota home, was left with but one last number to dial.

This lady was a whole another deal altogether. My nightmarish courtship continued as I was informed that American airlines was flying alright, and it was that other airline, Northwest, who was causing the troubles and that it seemed reasonable to them (and somehow, to me too) that I should take my troubles elsewhere. But eventually, and not a moment too soon for my grand vacation plans were gurgling down the drain, they agreed with my perspective (which was being delivered at 300 rants per minute), that someone had better make alternate plans for my travel. The dust settled, and as it happens, I fly tomorrow with the kind blessings of three companies, their grandmas, the fickle weather of the North East and the fluttering butterflies in China. Then again, this might just be the first chapter and not the epilogue.

I have never understood how travel related industries can afford such apathy towards stranded and miscomfited travellers. We do not expect miracles when airports are shut down or hotels are razed in earthquakes, but we do need a sympathetic ear, some good will and large dash of common sense. To elaborate on the latter, two more companies who had participated in my travel farce, REI (for backpacks) and displayed an alarmingly high degree of good sense (and mind-numbingly long waiting times for Hotels) by allowing me to move my reservations for free. If only more agencies behaved accordingly, I wouldnt have to spend my valuable decision making energies in tackling biases and prejudices.


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