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You’re Right, I’m Wrong

picasso-coloring-pages-6So, back in April I wrote about the mess with our cable company insisting that we all get boxes on every TV we own so that we can continue to have the privilege of paying a small fortune in order to watch our TVs. For a few weeks after finally getting said boxes all working, things seemed fine except for the fact that the images frequently looked like works by Picasso or Seurat. Faces and bodies were not necessarily attached to each other, or they just became a giant collection of dots. I’ve been told this is called “tiling.” Whatever it’s called, it gave me a migraine.

But soon, things went from bad to worse. Every few days, the cable would just go out completely. Usually right in the middle of something I actually cared about watching. Like what ingredient to add to my stir-fry after the asparagus.

Initially, it would go out for a few minutes, and then come back on. Annoying, yes. But screamingTelephone-coloring-page on the phone annoying, not quite yet. That came shortly after, when not only would the cable go out on a daily basis, but it would disappear multiple times a day, for at least an hour each time. I started calling the cable company at the start of each occurrence in the pathetic hope that I might actually get this problem fixed in a timely manner, plus maybe even receive some kind of monetary compensation for my time and trouble. One can dream.

 

tool.kitAlmost every conversation with the cable company’s reps would begin with me being told that this was only a problem in my house and had no relation to the fact that we had been required to hook those stupid boxes up to all the TVs just a few months earlier. (I had the temerity to try to get the reps to make that connection, since there had never been such problems prior to the boxes. But of course, they insisted that one had nothing to do with the other. My bad.) They told me I had to schedule an appointment for a repair person to come to my house. In the beginning, I made the appointments – which were always scheduled 2 or 3 days after my phone call – and would end up cancelling after the cable came back on. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed wasting my time in this manner multiple times per day. Plus, when I would call back later that day when the next outage occurred, there would be a recording telling me it was an “area-wide outage,” so what would be the point of having a tech come out to my house when the problem was not at my house? I’m sure you can follow my reasoning here. But very few of the reps could.

 

earAnyway, after several weeks of this nonsense, I was no longer able to stifle my shrieks when I called and insisted on talking to a supervisor, because I was not going to explain what was going on for the thousandth time to a rep who had no power to do anything and who would insist that I needed a repair person. So I got a supervisor who actually sounded like he was listening to me. “I hear you,” was said multiple times in a reassuring voice. “I’ll look into it and get back to you first thing tomorrow.” Uh huh.  I wonder if he heard me yelling at his supervisor two days later when the promised phone call never came.

 

So, in a world of few choices, I thought about switching cable companies, but didn’t hear great blonde-girl-is-laughing-coloring-pagethings about the options that were actually available. And eventually, things got better. Until today. I was preparing dinner, enjoying a rerun of one of my favorite shows that still has the ability to make me laugh – and I promise you, these days I am in desperate need of laughs – when at my favorite part, suddenly all went dark. No, I thought, not again. But yes, it was again. So I called. And got a self-righteous young rep who obviously knew everything and, in spite of my explanation of all that had come before, insisted that I needed to have a repair person come to my home.

 

“Did you not hear me?” I asked, gritting my teeth. “I’m sure it’s area-wide, even though you don’t know it yet, because most likely all my neighbors are so sick of talking to you people that no one is picking up the phone to call anymore.”

The know-it-all voice came back at me. “Mrs. Rechtman, we can’t help you unless you let us have a repairman come out to your house. It could just be your house that’s causing this problem.”

WHAT?

“Uh, no, in all the prior conversations, it’s been area-wide, which you people would eventually figure outBatman-Coloring-Pages-Picture-28 hours later, and they had to have lots and lots of busy little bees working in some hidden Bat Cave to get everyone’s cable back. My house is just collateral damage, not patient zero.”

 

I could hear the annoyance in her voice. Because of course, she, like all the reps, knows so much more than I do. She repeated, talking over me, “Mrs. Rechtman, we cannot help you…”

 

televisor-sony-trinitron-29-111_big“Whoops, the TV’s back on, never mind. Just make sure you put this outage on my account so I can try to get some money back from you greedy bas…”

“Mrs. Rechtman, would you hang on so you can take the survey for the service you received from me today?”

 

I try not to curse. I’ve learned to bite my tongue so unpleasant words don’t come tumbling out of my mouth, even when so well-deserved. No matter how much I wanted to tell her that in no way, shape or form, did she want me answering that phone survey. So I did what I could to stick to my principles. I pretended I didn’t hear her. In my cheeriest voice, now talking over her,  I said, “Thanks so much for your help. Bye!” Disconnect – on so many levels.

Remind me to share my stories about switching trash companies next time. There’s always someone who knows so much more than I do. You, too? Yes, I hear you.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

Welcome to the 50s

Numbers-Birthday-Cakes-50I did not sign up for this. Or, at least I think I didn’t sign up for this. Considering the state of my memory these days, I really can’t swear to anything I may or may not have done. But I’m talking about life as a person well into her 50s. Not that I was delusional about what life would be like passing the mid-century mark. I knew that most likely my eyesight would go from perfect to near-perfect. That I might gain a pound or two. And that I might have to rely on color in a bottle when it comes to keeping a few stray grey hairs out of my hairline. When I hit the dreaded 5-0, I think I was more upset about having to admit that I could possibly be that age, than what was actually about to happen to me in every aspect of my life.

The eyesight actually started fading away in my late 40s. Considering I had always had perfect eyeglassesvision, I stayed in denial for as long was humanly possible. I was slightly far-sighted to start with. Soon, there was no chance of holding reading matter far enough away from my face to actually make out the letters. Although, I can read street signs in the next city – it’s kind of my hidden superhero talent. These days, denial resides in what strength reading glasses I buy. When it finally becomes obvious that I don’t even realize there are words on a page, I finally cave and go up to the next level. Although I continue to hold onto the weaker glasses, in the hope that, at some point, things will magically shift into reverse and I’ll actually be able to see again.

Laundry_symbols_with_japaneseBut the world conspires against me as well. Lately, in the form of trying to read laundry labels. There are the clothing manufacturers that must have people of a certain age working there, since they have crisp black labels with glaring white print in a readable font that anyone should be able to decipher. But lately, there are the clothing companies that I can only presume to be run by sadists in their 20s with perfect vision. The color of the label is a very pale grey – very classy. The print – for I presume there is print – is the softest wisp of white – in a size which surely must be microscopic, and a font with so many loops and so little substance that they might as well have not included a label at all. So after I attempt for at least five minutes to catch a hint of a word that might be helpful, such as hang, line, warm, will disintegrate… I do what I always do and fling that garment into the washer on a delicate cycle and, if there’s room left on the clothing rack, I lay it there once it’s clean. If not, into the dryer it goes, on a wing and a prayer. Surprisingly, most of my clothes actually survive this process.

I know I’ve discussed the morphing of my body into the Pillsbury Dough Boy numerous times, butmirror I still can’t stop shrieking every time I look in the mirror. I am not this person. At least, I was not this person until a little over 10 years ago. That was the first surgery that started the ball rolling. But it still wasn’t horrifying. There was still hope. Then, 5 years ago came the next surgery. The one that spun me out of my comfortable little bubble of denial into hell. Men, you can stop reading here, because we all know that all you have to do is close your eyes and say, “I wish to lose 10 pounds – in my stomach.” And, when you wake up in the morning, poof! Your body is exactly as you wished. This, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause are all the proof I need that G-d is a man.

chemistry.flask

 

I’ve been somewhat luckier with the hair. The miracle of chemistry has made it possible for me to continue to have some semblance of my actual hair color with just a mere shampoo and a quarter-sized dollop of something resembling shoe polish. So no matter how old I actually get, my hair promises not to give me away. This is the only time in my life I have truly believed in better living through chemistry.

 

Aches, pains, and invisibility have all arrived full force in this decade of my life. The latest indignity is grasping scissorsfrantically through the caverns of my mind to find words that have begun to elude me. I can be about to ask my children to hand me the scissors, and the best I can come up with is to ask for “those things that you cut with.” After my children are done rolling on the floor, laughing at me, I am grateful that I still remember the function of said scissors and the fact that someone actually handed them to me.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am also grateful to find myself mobile and intact and still here each morning when I open my eyes to the possibilities of the day ahead of me. And so, in spite of wondering how my life’s journey has brought me to this age in what seems like nanoseconds sometimes, I make sure I thank G-d (male or female) for giving me one more day. Whether I can see it or not.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Should I Spell It Out for You?

laptop.2Anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me crazy. (OK, there are lots of things, but this issue, in particular, is sure to get an immediate hair-tearing response.) That would be spelling/grammatical errors, whether on TV, in emails from magazines, newspapers, etc., or online posts from large media outlets. In this day and age of people assuming (you all do know what happens when you ASS U ME, I hope) that all they need is some form of Spell Check to make everything right, let me assure you that proofreaders/copy editors should not be optional employees.

The moment I see a post with the wrong word or a misspelling used in the header, I immediately newspaper3disregard that post and go on to the next one – unless, of course, it’s really juicy. When I read a newspaper (yes, I still do read the paper on occasion), and find multiple spelling errors throughout that paper, I groan and find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m reading. Once again, I’m talking about professional posts that are going out to thousands of people, being written by (presumably) paid employees of that business. Yes, errors by individuals sending private emails or posting something online also bug me, but I can let those go because they are not being paid to get information out to the public. I just grind my teeth and force myself to let it go. Let it go…

dinosaurAnyway, I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times that in this day and age of instant information, fewer and fewer people find it necessary to take the time to make sure that what they’re putting out there is error-free. No one seems to care anymore. I don’t think that this is necessarily a generational issue either. I know plenty of people who are not dinosaurs who are deeply irked when they see this kind of sloppy writing.

 

So, for your amusement and possible enlightenment, here are some recent examples of emails and posts I’ve seen that have caused the aforementioned hair-tearing. I didn’t note all of the sources,  but believe me, they are all real.

bulldog-puppy-catching-a-ball-coloring-page-300x376

 

1. WARNING: These rescue dog transformations are going to make you ball your eyes out!

My question: Is someone going to be flinging balls at our eyes?

 

 

 

2. Exiting Offers for the Weekend – 40% Off

Presumably, these offers are already out the door, so don’t bother going.

 

3. The Washington Post Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:00:23 PM  arizona.map
News Alert
Controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer won’d seek third term

Come on, Washington Post, really? Not one second to check your header before you send a mass e-mail out?

 

4. Is Your Conscious Clear?

Uh, I think so?

 

5. And now, a few choice from Cameron Diaz words on Gwyneth’s divorce

Not that I really care about anyone’s conscious uncoupling, but I have two issues with this header. The first, more obvious issue is that the sentence is complete gibberish. The second, is that the reader might assume (!) that Cameron Diaz is going to say something snarky about Gwynnie by the way the sentence is almost worded, but in fact, she defends her in the paragraph that I had no interest in reading.

 

6. From Entertainment Tonight:
tv.set

Meanwhile, Jay Leno, 63, announced his last guests before he turns over The Tonight Show. On Feb. 3, his predecessor Fallon will appear on the show, but on his final night, Feb. 6, Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest in May 1992 when he succeeded Johnny Carson, will appear on the program along with country singer Garth Brooks, The Associated Press reports.

Did I miss something in 1992?

 

So yes, we laugh, but it’s also kind of sad that the rush to inform trumps accuracy and pride in the finished product. Good writing should not be optional when something is going out to the world. That being said, I feel compelled to reveal that I do have one particular word that I believe should have its spelling changed as soon as possible. If there is some committee to contact for this issue, please let me know.

My  nominee is the word judgment. Seriously, what the heck happened to the ‘e’ there? When I was in college, I had to write a paper about the Social Judgment Theory. Up until that assignment, I had never paid attention to the word judgment and its lack of an ‘e’ where one would assume (!) an ‘e’ would be. So when I was busily researching this theory in the university library, imagine my shock when every book I picked up was missing that crucial ‘e.’ The spelling of this word makes no sense at all. And yes, there are many other words in the English language that have spellings that are absurd, but this one has irked me throughout the years. Way past the time that I can remember anything about the Social Judgment Theory, the only thing that remains is my deep belief that the so-called correct spelling of the word judgment is just plain wrong.

quill__scroll_2_rhyvvHow did this happen? You have the word judge. Why would you drop the ‘e’ at the end?I have a theory. I can picture the first dictionary scribe painstakingly writing out the words in the very first dictionary. He gets to the word judgment, which he knows should have been spelled judgement. He carefully writes the first few letters: j…u…d…g… He is about to put the ‘e’ in and accidentally knocks over his drinking vessel filled with grog. He quickly swipes away the liquid so it doesn’t smear all of his hard work  away. He sighs with relief, and in his agitated state, he continues writing: m…e…n…t.  No one notices at first, and several months go by until one day, the Master of the Dictionary happens upon the word by chance. He calls the dictionary scribe in for interrogation.

“Can you explain why in the world you would have written the word ‘judgment’ without the first ‘e’ since there is no proper way to pronounce it the way it is written?” the dictionary master demands.

The dictionary scribe quakes in his boots. He frantically searches his mind for a response that won’t result in his hanging. “Well, my lord, it seemed perfectly sensible at the time,” the scribe offers. “After all, think of all the ink it has saved not only now, but in all future dictionaries, to have one less ‘e’ in the word.”

The dictionary master, being a man who is always looking to pinch a penny, agrees that this is most sensible. And there you go.

I happen to be tired of spelling a word based on a spilled cup of grog. And, when I do see this wordLatin_dictionary misspelled approximately 90% of the time, I nod in agreement and solidarity. So if anyone is aware of the committee to change the spelling of inanely spelled words, please advise. But meanwhile, I beg you, check your spelling twice, write it once. Thank you for your understanding. And the hairs on my head thank you, too.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Sky High

dotted.shoesI recently read that a research study had been done concluding that people often judge others by the shoes they wear. As if we’re not judged enough by other ridiculously superficial criteria. But that’s a rant for another day. Anyway, there were several factors taken into consideration including the obvious – if the shoes were expensive, the style, and their condition, along with other factors. People made snap judgments based on those factors, including political affiliation, income and emotional stability. Hmmm.

Anyway, I pretty much live in two kinds of shoes, depending on the season – sandals sneakersthroughout the summer, and sneakers in the winter. Or, if I must, the least hideous walking shoe I can find. Not an easy prospect with AAA feet, I promise you. I honestly wouldn’t want to know what snap judgments anyone makes about me when – or if – they bother looking at my feet.

pink.wedge.shoeThere was a time I cared about style. Back in the day, I wore outfits that required a stylish shoe – specifically, platform shoes. I could wobble down the street with the best of them, confident that I was at the height of fashion. Comfort be damned – looking good was all that mattered. Of course the definition of looking good at the time was so skewed it included giant shoulders, giant hair, and a giant amount of glitter. So subtlety and class were obviously in short supply. But it was the ’80s, so need I say more?

Fast forward to our modern age of sky-high stilettos. I have walked  past these modern beaded.shoestorture chamber devices in various shoe stores and I am certain that if I even ventured to try one of these shoes on, I would end up breaking both ankles in an exceedingly painful, cringe-worthy display of flailing arms and limbs askew.

The phenomenon I’ve noticed both in person and on TV is that women walk very strangely nowadays. They take tiny little pigeon steps while moving as quickly as possible. At first, I had no idea what was going on when I’d see female guest stars on talk shoes hurrying to their seats in this odd  manner. It’s such an unnatural walk, but it’s ubiquitous these days. (*Please note, that this walk excludes supermodels who are capable of model-striding on mile-high stilts, unlike your average human female.) But back to mortals wearing these shoes. Even down-to-earth funny ladies feel obligated to wear these ridiculously uncomfortable shoes, in the name or femininity and style. And they do that quick pigeon-shuffle as well. But they don’t walk this walk for laughs, but instead, to get to their seat and get off their feet as quickly as possible. The relief on their faces is palpable as they sink into their chairs, having successfully navigated any obstacles in their way, without toppling over or humiliating themselves in any other heel-related way.

Supposedly, flat shoes are making a comeback. For the last 20 years, let me assure you, theyblack.shoe haven’t ever left me. On the very rarest of occasions, I have managed to find a shoe that merges both comfort and style (to the extent that a heel-challenged shoe can do that), but generally it’s one or the other, and these days, comfort always wins.

red.high.heelSo, as in so many things these days, I will leave discomfort to the young. You girls look great when you’re standing still or sitting down, waving your feet around in your shoes that resemble works of art adorning your feet. Just do your best to not have to rush anywhere when you’re wearing those things. Because that pigeon walk kind of destroys the glamorous, sophisticated image you’re trying to project. Unless, of course, you’re a super model. In that case, the rest of us don’t stand a chance anyway.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Happy 2014

2014Best wishes for happiness, good health, lots of laughter, and dreams coming true for all of you in 2014! Thank you for all your support over the years!

I’ll Be Watching You

tv.antennaOnce upon a time, TV was free. Of course, there were only 8 channels, and the only thing you could watch at 2 a.m. was the test pattern with its accompanying high-pitched drone, but still, it was free. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am not a fan of the insanely high cost of watching cable TV,which is pretty much run by a monopoly that has no compassion for its customers, our monetary plights, or our viewing preferences. To add insult to injury, we were recently notified that in order to continue watching TV, we are now required to have HD boxes on every TV in the house. Mind you, I can remember a conversation I had with a cable rep several years ago when I was assured, that switching over to HD would NOT mean I would have to add boxes to all of my TVs. Those of you who know me know this is astonishing in itself – that I actually remember any conversation from several years ago – but this one stuck in my head, because a promise was made to me at that time that I took to heart. And now, as in much of life, the value of that promise turned out to be worth as little as the enjoyment I get from most of the shows airing on TV.

I tried to ignore the deadline for getting these boxes, hoping this was all a big hoax – then I could laugh at everyone who raced like lemmings to get their boxes. I received emails. I even received snail mail. Still, I remained firm in my belief that this was a rumor like the one about all computers ceasing to work when the calendar hit the year 2000.

mailboxBut then came the letter warning me that time was running out and that as of 5 days from the date of the letter, I would no longer be able to watch TV without those manditory boxes. This didn’t sound like a joke anymore. I actually started to sweat a little (or I should correct that to say ‘perspire,’ as a female living in the South). Anyway, I finally caved and called the cable company, meekly requesting the 2 new boxes I would need. They said I had the option of having them shipped to the house, or I could find my way to the store and wait on the days-long line snaking around the city. I chose to have them shipped. When I told the rep that our bedroom TV was older than my kids, she said she’d send the box specifically made for the “non-HD TVs,” along with the regular box. She said it could take a week – still not enough to lure me over to the store, so I hunkered down to wait it out. And as promised, a few minutes past midnight on the promised day, all remnants of TV-watching disappeared from the 2 unboxed sets in my house.

Surprisingly, the boxes arrived 2 days later. But they were identical – no box specifically for ancient televisions. Plus, when I looked at the cable set-up in my kitchen, I CellPhoneColoringPagerealized that years ago when we installed cable for the TV we had added there, the tech had drilled a hole into my floor to run the cable through, although I couldn’t remember the reason for defacing my kitchen floor. And I had no idea where the cable actually went, so I didn’t have any idea what we should do. The rep understood the identical box situation, but told me over and over that she didn’t understand the hole in my floor scenario, no matter how many times I explained it to her. She agreed that I needed a tech to come out to my house to hook it all up, and set the appointment for the following day.Then she put me on hold for awhile, only to discover that the boxes I had received would work on both TV sets. There would be a 4-hour window for the tech to arrive, and I asked if it would be possible to get a call before the tech headed to my house, since I work only a few minutes away, and I could meet him at my house. She promised to do that and emphasized that she had it all written down and would make sure he got those instructions. Are you laughing at my misplaced trust yet?

The next day, I didn’t let my phone out of my sight while I was at work. But, the call never came. Relieved that I didn’t have to leave work early, I left at my normal time and headed home. My son was there. And he informed me that the tech had come and gone about an hour ago. “WHAT?” I pretty much screeched. But then I calmed down, figuring all was set up and ready to go.I don’t know why I continue making these inane assumptions, only to be dumped flat on my face. Because then, my son explained that the tech had shown him how to hook up the cable from the hole in the floor into the new cable in the TV. And then he had left.

“What about the TV in the bedroom?” I asked. “I don’t even know if there are little thingies in that TV for him to put the new cable in, so please tell me he at least set that one up.”

My son shook his head and told me the tech had never left the kitchen.

And upon closer inspection, I saw that the tech hadn’t even hooked up the kitchen TV. Literally, all he had done was put one cable into another, and then he had left! I gave myself a pep talk.  I can do this, I cablesthought. I had instructions. I have a Master’s degree and should be able to follow those instructions. And I had my son, who quickly figured out how to hook up the rest of the things that needed to be hooked up on the kitchen TV. But when he took a look at the prehistoric bedroom TV, he told me it was a lost cause. After a moment of silence, he reminded me that we had a miniscule, somewhat newer TV in the playroom that he and his sister used to play their video games on, that was sitting completely unused. So he switched them out, and soon had the hard-to-see, hard-to-hear TV hooked up to the cable.  Now, I had to figure out how to sync the remotes to the TVs. The one in the bedroom worked after I followed all the steps, but I couldn’t get the one in the kitchen to cooperate at all. In frustration, I called the cable company, because in spite of following the instructions to the letter to get a picture to fly through the air into the TVs, they both remained picture-less. When the rep answered the phone and asked if I would take a survey about the service I received once we were done with getting everything working (another optimist), I pretty much warned him that he most likely would not want me saying anything that was on my mind on any survey about my experience – ever.

This rep was not only efficient, but patient and he had a sense of humor, so he defused what remotecould have turned into an ugly situation. Soon, the second remote was in sync with my TV, and pictures flew through the air and landed in both TVs. It only took an hour. I told him about the tech showing up at my house with no phone call and not even doing one thing I had needed him to do, aside from showing my son that he didn’t have to pull the cable out of the floor. He said he would note that on my account.

bill.plannerThe icing on the cake came a few weeks later when I received my monthly bill and there was an extra $50 charge for the home visit I had received. You can imagine the words I had to hold back as I called the cable company again. I went through the whole deal with this rep. I pictured him nodding his head and rolling his eyes as he listened to my rant – luckily, the rep who had made everything work had actually taken notes about everything, and this new rep concurred that I shouldn’t have been charged for the two-minute fly-by. Because the first rep who didn’t understand about the hole in the floor situation had written the order up as me needing new cable connections put into my house. An order which the tech who zoomed in and out of my house had obviously never paid attention to, either way. And this final rep had the good sense to realize that he needed to keep nodding his head and agreeing with me since what I was saying might actually be true. I’m waiting to see this month’s bill before I put this whole mess behind me. But meanwhile, rest assured, I am getting my daily fix of the HD stations I can still  barely see and barely hear each time I attempt to watch TV in my bedroom.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

That’s OK, We’re In No Rush

I know I have been writing a great deal about air travel, but there’s a reason for that. After all, there always seems to have been some sort of misadventure involved every time I’ve traveled recently. In fact, one of my friends had a travel mishap the other day and told me that she and her husband said they had a “Nancy” story now. So I’ve now become an adjective for any time something goes wrong with any form of travel.

thanksgiving.drawingSo let me fill you in on my Thanksgiving adventure. I had opted to travel on the two supposedly not-horrible days of Thanksgiving week – the Tuesday before and the Friday after. And since the originating flight left in the wee hours of the morning, I was hopeful that we might actually get to New York before nightfall – that was my first mistake.

It was only me and my daughter traveling this time, and we woke up Tuesday morningrain (or late Monday night, depending on your perspective), to a cold, icy rain. I wasn’t too worried, however, since our connecting flight was through Reagan Airport which I knew pretty much had flights every hour on the hour to New York. Even though bad weather was predicted up and down the East Coast, I guess I was still in a fog from the 3 hours of sleep I had managed to sneak in and I had this not-so-logical sense of confidence that all would go well.

We made our way through security without issue, sat at our gate and waited. And waited. Several announcements advised us that they were de-icing the plane, which I agreed was a good thing, so I had no issue with waiting for a plane to have de-iced wings before taking off. We were also told that this wasn’t considered a delay, and we shouldn’t worry about making our connecting flights. I have no idea what the logic is behind that statement, since we certainly were delayed if we weren’t leaving on time, but I am not fluent in airline-speak. But after approximately a half hour, we were told we were now allowed to board the plane. We were also told that since we were in a flying tin can, that all carry-ons were to be left on the jetway since there would barely be enough room for the humans on the plane, let alone anything inanimate.

luggageSince I refuse to pay for a seat in advance, assuming they will not make me stand during the flight, we ended up being seated in the first row of the plane. That was kind of cool and we had a lovely view of our luggage waiting to be stowed under the plane. We sat on the plane for about another half hour and were advised that they were still de-icing. OK, still no problem there. But I was puzzled as to why no one had picked up our luggage yet. I finally asked the flight attendant if she knew what was going on. She told me that since 3 planes were supposed to leave about the same time, they didn’t have enough people to load the luggage. I indicated my surprise at this and asked why in the world they wouldn’t have scheduled a sufficient number of people to do so, considering it was the day before the WORST TRAVEL DAY OF THE YEAR. She looked around and conspiratorially whispered that she was pretty sure that when some of these workers had taken a look at the weather, they might have suddenly come down with some sort of airline illness that would preclude them from working that day.

plane.flyingFinally, after about another half hour, we saw luggage movement, then disappearance, and we finally took off. At about the time we were originally due to arrive in DC. An announcement was made that since we were now officially leaving late, no worries, the airline had already re-booked all of us on later connecting flights.  So I agreed I shouldn’t worry. (Please control your laughter.)

We arrived in DC, went to customer service, and we were told that the next flight after the one we had just missed was full, so we’d be on the noon flight. That didn’t sound too bad – that would still get us to New York by early afternoon, with plenty of time to relax – or pass out from exhaustion - and still have an enjoyable day visiting with family. Reagan is a lovely airport, and we grabbed some sustenance so neither of us would passcoffee out, having not eaten anything up to that point, and parked ourselves by the gate to wait.

At 11:30, an unwelcome, nagging thought popped into my brain – Shouldn’t we be getting ready to board already? But the screen behind the gate agent still said our flight was scheduled to leave on time, so I attempted to kick that pesky thought out of my head. Until I looked at the screen again and it said our flight was cancelled. Instinct propelled me to fly out of my seat and race up to the gate – the same thing happened to several other people and we swarmed the agent, asking what happened. At first, the agent denied that our flight had been cancelled, because of course, why notify her? And the display had magically changed to another flight leaving from that gate which was on time. Then she got the call and subsequently made the announcement that I had been dreading – yes, the flight was cancelled (due to a broken plane) and we should all go to customer service and get rescheduled.  Which we all did like a bunch of lemmings.  Or more accurately, a herd of runningcattle in a stampede. While on line, all of our cell phones began ringing and buzzing simultaneously to advise us that our flight had been cancelled. The poor souls who hadn’t seen the display and had to discover the news by phone ended up at the tail end of what appeared to be an endless sea of humanity. And only one person was working the desk, in spite of the fact that there was a second seat awaiting an eager co-worker – I guess no one volunteered.

I was 4th in line and the customer service rep was obviously in no mood for chitchat. I was brusquely informed that all flights were sold out until 4 o’clock and that was the earliest flight she could get us on – this was in spite of my desperate begging and pleading to get us out of there earlier.

Looking out the window, the possibility loomed that we might not be leaving at all that day, as the air had pretty much turned to pea soup. I knew we’d be lucky to get out of there by Thanksgiving since the next day was the WORST TRAVEL DAY OF THE YEAR, awful weather was being predicted, and most likely every seat on every plane was full.  I had a vision of myself as Tom Hanks in “The Terminal,” begging for help, but never being able to leave. As I mentioned earlier, I was trying to remain lucid after 3 hours of sleep, but I was quickly losing that battle.

Anyway, after 6 hours in the airport, it was finally announced that they were boarding clockour flight. And I discovered from a fellow passenger that he and his family had been scheduled for the 3 o’clock flight but that flight had also been cancelled due to a broken plane. What was with the broken planes, anyway – don’t they ever check these things? But, I ended up realizing that I should be grateful we hadn’t been booked on that earlier flight, since at that point, one more incident might have caused me to crack. I had put up a good facade, but seriously, one more glitch might have caused the whole thing to crumble.

trafficSo I did find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Even in the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic we had to deal with once we landed in New York.  Bringing our door-to-door travel time to 13 hours. And yet, still grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

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