Thursday, March 15, 2007

They Can Make Your Day...Or Make Your Day Hell

Now I really should be spending my time writing my novel or working on my textbook, but I wanted to post this while it was still fresh in my mind.

Last week I made a few posts about my recent trip, and how it pays to keep your cool and be nice to the airline reps. This post is about how those reps can make your day…or make your day hell.

In September of 2000 my wife and I took a trip to our favorite Caribbean island. It was our first trip there in 10 years without the kids. Everything was perfect. On our last day we checked out of the hotel, left the car in the airport parking lot with the keys in the glove compartment (how's that for security?), and checked in for our flight. We boarded, the plane (a prop job) taxied down the runway and stopped. We were waiting about 10 minutes and it wasn't do to air traffic issues…there were only 2 flights a day in and out of that airport. Eventually, the pilot announced there was an equipment malfunction and the flight would have to be cancelled. They needed to fly in parts from San Juan.

So, we went back to the terminal, reclaimed the luggage, and queued up to wait and see what the airline is going to do. Of course, there are always the requisite A-holes bitchin' and moanin' about the situation, and this was no exception. They hadn't made any announcements yet, so I got out of line and went up to talk with the airline rep. She was busy trying to placate a rude New Yawka bitch and her snotty daughter. They were bitchin' and moanin' personified, and they began to sling personal insults at the poor island girl.

Bitch: "Ya know, we come heeya several toymes a yeeah. Ow-er money pays faw yaw salree. I expect betta treetment dan dis."

Rep: "Mam, we're working on seeing what we can do. As soon as I know something I'll let you know."

Bitch: "We ah also eeleet frequent flyuhs, so we expect to get an upgrade. That's the least you can do faw ow-wer troubles."

Rep: "We're working on it mam."

Snotty Daughter (stomping her feet): "Mommy? Mommy? I'm going to miss moy appointment with Doctah Kleinfeld. Doesn't that idiot understand he's the best awthodontist in New Yawk. It's gonna' take us two months to get anutha appointment with him. God I hate huh."

Bitch: "Oh my gawd, I fawgot about dat."

Snotty Daughter: "Stupid imbecile prawbably doesn't even know what an awthodontist is."

I waited for the bitch to stop bitching, and explained to the rep that I understood it's not her fault. And, if it made logistics any easier, I said that my wife and I would be okay with staying on the island another night. I also schmoozed her a little bit to try and make up for the crap she had to take from those A-holes. She smiled and thanked me...and genuinely seemed to appreciate my effort.

Ultimately, the airline decided to ferry us to another island where we would catch a plane to San Juan, then overnight us in San Juan and fly us to New York the next day. From New York my wife and I would then catch a flight home. Not the most direct route, but whaddya' gonna' do.

The rep called each person's name and handed them tickets and meal vouchers. When I went up to get ours, the rep smiled and thanked me for being so patient. Then she said, in a voice just loud enough for the A-holes to hear, "And we've got you and your wife going back first class."

You can imagine how the shit hit the fan when Ms. Bitch heard that. Of course, I just had to rub it in a little and mentioned that I wasn't even an elite frequent flyer on that which point I quickly learned a few curse words I hadn't heard before and became the newest enemy of Ms. Bitch and Snotty Daughter.

Ah, but it gets even better. San Juan was apparently a hub for passengers traveling to New York from many Latin American and Caribbean countries, so the plane was absolutely full on the San Juan to New York leg. Now, I'm sure everyone has seen at least one movie with a scene from a third world country…a scene that involves a bus packed with locals, food, chickens, pigs, etc. Hold that vision for a second. The aircraft on this leg was a DC-10…a very large plane with 8-10 seats in the middle. Guess where Ms. Bitch and Snotty Daughter were seated? Yep, right smack in the middle of the middle…worst seats on the plane. Now this occurred before 9/11 when there weren't many restrictions on what you could carry about the only things missing were the pigs and chickens.

I had to give her credit for persistence if nothing else. Ms. Bitch refused to go down without a fight. Before we took off and several times during the flight she complained to the first class flight attendants that she and Snotty Daughter should be put in first class and we should be moved back to cattle class because they were elite flyers and we weren't.

We just smiled at each other and enjoyed our champagne. As my wife likes to say..."what goes around, comes around."

Badabing Badaboom...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Brooklyn Tony on Math

Brooklyn Tony returns from school and says he got an F in arithmetic.

"Why?" asks the father.

"Da teacher asked 'How much is 2x3,' I said '6,'" replies TONY.

"But dat's right!" says his dad.

"Yeah, but den she asked me 'How much is 3x2?'"

"What's da f---ing difference?" asks the father.

"Dat's what I said!"

Reach Out And Touch Someone...

Well, kenju's recent post got me thinking about cousins today. I grew up living in the same neighborhood with my many cousins. We basically saw each other every day. Over time, most of us drifted apart. I was one of the very few "sinners" who actually left New York. As we became adults, weddings and Christmas would be the primary times when we'd see each other. As we aged, the funerals began replacing the weddings. After a couple of funerals that were only weeks apart, we decided to hold an annual cousin's party. That was incredible fun and brought back some wonderful childhood memories, but after a few years it was harder to get people to participate and it eventually fell by the wayside.

This is a picture of me and two of my older cousins. I was three years old at the time, which would have made it 1950. My cousin Anthony is the one wearing the hat and looking like a miniature mafioso. The other is my cousin John. My father was godfather to Anthony. John's father was my godfather. Anthony was the first one in our family to go to college. I was the second. Actually, my father used to joke that he was the first one in the family to go through through the front door and out through the back door. (Hey, maybe that's how I got my sense of humor.)

Around Christmas time, Anthony sent me an email which was the motivation behind my Older 'N Dirt post. I sent him the above picture and he got a real kick out of it.

Now, the theme of this post is to reach out and touch someone (but not in a private place...sorry, I just couldn't let that one pass.) ... which means, try to contact someone...friend or family...that you haven't seen or communicated with in a very long time. Do it sooner, not later.

I'm going to communicate twice. First, with a very old and dear friend whom I haven't seen or spoken with in almost a year. She normally contacts me if I let things go too long, but I know she's really pissed at me because I said that I'd be the catalyst since she's been playing that role for the last 20 years. Second, I'm going to contact a relative that I've never met. My cousin Anthony found that we have relatives in Texas. He actually met some of them when they were in New York. I found out from an aunt that one of my grandfather's brothers was really the first family "sinner"...he decided to settle in Texas instead of in New York with the rest of his all of our Texas relatives are descendants from my father's side of the family. Anyway, I am planning to contact a distant cousin via email, and maybe even meet when I'm in Texas in June.

So, reach out and touch!!

Badabing Badaboom...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Memories Are Made Of This...

The more I blog, the more things from my past keep popping up. I think it's some sort of "stream of consciousness" thing. In any case, I think it's a good thing.

When I was writing my last two posts, about my recent trip, the book Gulliver's Travels popped into my mind. I don't know why, maybe I was thinking Badabing's Travels or something as a possible title. Anyway, Gulliver's Travels brought up an interesting memory from my college days, and that's what this post is all about.

A "sort of" friend and I were in the same English class in college. I say "sort of" friend because his wife worked with my girlfriend, and we'd double-date on occasion. That's how we knew each other.

I'll call this guy Vinny. Vinny was a very good-looking Italian kid...could have been a male model. He was studying to be a physicist and I was studying engineering. I thought I was a serious student until I met Vinny. His looks betrayed the reality...he was what we'd call today a serious "geek" or "nerd," albeit a handsome one. Back them we just called 'em serious students. I guess I was sort of one too, but nowhere in his league.

Whenever we double-dated the girls would be talking girl stuff and we'd usually talk about school stuff. Not that I necessarily wanted to, but that was the only thing he would talk about. A typical conversation snippet from Vinny would go something like this:

"So, have you read the latest Feynman paper on quantum dynamics? I want to get your opinion about it."

Of course, Vinny being born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, it would have sounded like this to the listener:

"So, you seen da' latest Foynman paypuh on quan'em dawynamics? I wanna' get yaw opinion aboud' it."

(As an aside, Richard Feynman was a very famous physicist of that era who won a Nobel Prize in 1965.)

Sometimes I knew what the hell Vinny was talking about and sometimes he was out there circling in his own orbit, in which case I'd have to try and change the conversation to something more down to partial differential equations or stochastic processes.

In any case, he was a nice guy, and I usually enjoyed conversing with him. However, I often wondered what the hell he and his wife talked about when they were together.

In our English class one of our required readings was Gulliver's Travels. The professor had each student give a short verbal report to the class on various aspects of the book. On the day we had to deliver the reports Vinny sat next to me and we made small talk before the start of class.

"So, Vinny, what's your report on?"

"You know about me and Angie?" he said. Angie was his wife.

"Yeah. Sorry to hear about it. You okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'll live."

"So, what's your topic?" I repeated.

"You're gonna' love this."

"What?" I queried.

"Okay. I have to report on Gulliver's experiences in Laputa."

"You're shittin' me," I say.

"Is that fuckin' spooky, or what?"

"That's a beer or three spooky. You up for a few cold ones after class?"

"Fuckin' a. Shoulda' had a few before I came here." He started trembling.

"Maybe just look at me while you're up there. You and I are the only ones in the room who know about you and Angie, right?"

His normally dark complexion was pasty white. "I think I'm gonna' throw up."

Now, here's the poop on Vinny and the book. Laputa was a floating island in one of Gulliver's travels. The upper crust of society lived on the island. The men of Laputa were deep thinkers, and spent most of their time contemplating and speculating on things mathematical. (Gee, any likeness to Vinny ya' think?) They were so extreme that they rarely spoke and even went so far as to cut their food into perfect geometric shapes...circles, rhomboids, triangles, etc. (And, no, a rhomboid is not a form of arthritis. Nor is it something you take Preparation-H for.)

They also weren't very attentive to the women of Laputa, who, as a result of their neglect, would sneak off the island for evenings or days at a time to satisfy their carnal desires with the "lower lifes" below. Yes...their wives would boink the commoners.

So how does this relate to Vinny and Angie? Well, it turns out that Vinny came home unexpectedly one day and found Angie in the sack with her hairdresser. Yes...the hairdresser was a guy...or they still might be married today.

In case you're wondering, Vinny did a passable job on his report, and managed to suppress a "ralph" or two while he was up there. Then he went straight from the front of the class to the men's room where he puked his guts out.

Afterwards we went out and got shit-faced.

The old "stream of consciousness" beastie bubbled up another memory from my college days as I was writing this post. Has to do with legs, sex, and psychology...but I'll leave that for another post.

Badaboom Badabing...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Same Bar, Same Seat...

It's my second night on the road. I'm in the same bar as in my last post. I'd already eaten dinner elsewhere, but Duke and Maryland were playing so I figured I'd have a few pops, watch the game, work on a scene for my novel, maybe engage in a little conversation.

I'm sitting in the same seat as the night before. Different bartender, different crowd. Oh yeah, and I've officially dubbed this my "lucky seat."

A couple is seated to my left, at the end of the bar. Very attractive brunette, 30-something. Who cares what the guy looked like.

Like I said, she was very attractive. Very slim, naturally tan, long dark hair, sexy brown eyes, brilliant white teeth, beautiful smile. Her lips weren't as full as I'd have liked them to be, but...okay, okay, I'm a picky old fart.

I was writing in my journal, working on the next scene in my novel. I couldn't help it, but I kept sneaking peeks at her...especially when she gave him occasional kisses. Very soft kisses. Very wet kisses. Very sexy kisses. I could almost feel them...the kisses I mean.

Now the classic way to describe my reaction to this is something like "I felt a stirring in my loins." And, while I can be a very classy classic guy, the more modern interpretation is "I'm gettin' oak."

Anyway, I guess she must have noticed me stealing glances at her. She leaned towards me and asked, "You're not writing down our conversation, are you?"

"Only the parts about sex."

She cracked up. "I'll make sure we talk more slowly, then," she laughed.

"No need. I can read lips and have a bear trap memory."

"I'm gonna' go sit closer to him," she said to her paramour.

"No you're not," he snapped.

I went back to my writing, still sneaking the occasional glance, as they continued their billing and cooing. (Oh, and for any of you young 'uns reading this, 'cooing' is not a dirty word...'billing,' however, is questionable.)

Now, I had a feeling they were my kind of people, because they were well into their second bottle of wine and dinner hadn't even been served yet. The billing got bill-ier (that's probably not a word) and the cooing got coo-ier (ditto), and watching them became quite arousing for this old horndog. I even caught a few flashes of tongue.

I really needed to use the men's room...but it would have been embarrasing...if you catch my drift. You don't? Let me give a subtle hint. Go back to the paragraph where I mention I'm a classy classic kind of guy and search for the keyword "oak."

They're dinner finally came. Just before it was served I was tempted to say,"Wow, you two have some appetite." Reason prevailed. I held my tongue.

Portions were huge and they offered to share it with me. I graciously declined. They dined. They cooed. I eavesdropped. They left. And, yes, they did bid me good night.

Maryland beat Duke. Life was good.

There's more, but that's another post.

Badabooom Badabing...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Any Siblings? ... No, just brothers and sisters

When I finally got to my destination last week, I checked into my hotel and looked for a place to eat dinner. I found a place on the Internet that was close by and looked pretty good, so I gave it a shot.

I almost always sit at the bar when I go out to eat. Less lonely, often better reading light, and I am almost always able to strike up a conversation or two if I'm in the mood. So, I squeeze into a barstool, order a glass of wine, and take a look at the menu.

A man and an attractive blonde woman are sitting to my left. He's probably mid-40's. She's more like early 40's. At first, I can't tell whether he's just making conversation or trying to hit on her. It takes a minute for my ears to adjust into eavesdrop mode, and I pick up the following tidbit of conversation.

Him: "So, do you have any siblings?"
Her: "No, I don't."
Him: "Oh, so you're an only child, then."
Her: "Oh no. I have three brothers and sisters."

He makes eye contact with me and rolls his eyes when she takes a sip of her drink. I couldn't help it...just had to laugh.

So, we just stumble into light conversation. He teases her a bit, offers to fly her to Vegas with him for the weekend, yada yada... Of course, I tell her the Bellagio is first class and that she should go.

"Really? Well, I don't know..."

Anyway, the guy asks me how old I am. I tell him I'm pushing 60. He can't believe it. Neither can she.

"Oh, my gawd, you don't even look fifty," she says with an admiring look.

Then she leans over and runs her hand over my shoulder and down my arm...did I say it felt really good?...and says, "Wow, you really look great."

Boing!! (Secret guy code)

Of course, I thank her for her compliment.

Then, the guy asks, "So, what's the secret to your youth? Do you have a daily regimen that you follow?"

Now, I could have been a wise ass and said something like "Yes, I owe it all to having incredible sex three times a day...every day...religiously." For a moment I thought it might be interesting to see how the woman would have responded. Then, maybe I'd have looked her right in the eye and followed up with "So far today it's only been twice. So I'm going to need it once more before midnight."

But, alas, I behaved, and just said "A bottle of wine and three cloves of garlic every day." She nodded knowingly, like I had just revealed some great key to life...and followed up with another pat on the arm.

Did I say I'm beginning to like this?

We talk a little more and he says, "You know, they say when a guy gets married he puts on an average of a pound each year. You don't look like you fit that statistic."

"Well, I'm actually the same weight as I was in high school." I paused.


"Yes, but instead of having a v-shape like I did back then, now it's more like a u-shape." (This is actually the truth.)

I looked at her and smiled. She half-smiled back, but I could tell she didn't get it. Then, she got a strange/confused look on her face like maybe I just said something dirty. The smile vanished and her gaze went back to her drink. A few minutes later she bid us goodnight and left.

No. I'm not going to make any blonde jokes :-)

Anyway, just another episode in wide world of Badabing's Travels.

Ciao for now.

Badabing Badaboom...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Road Warrior Rant...

I normally travel several days per week, so I guess that qualifies me as a road warrior.

I wrote this post in my journal while sitting in an airport on Tuesday afternoon...just getting around to officially posting it today. WARNING...this is a long rant.

I'm on my way to New Haven, CT today. No direct flights there from any of the airports in my area, so I have to go via a connecting flight---something I try to avoid at all costs, particularly during the winter months. Three hours before my scheduled departure I get a voice message from the airline informing me that my departing flight is delayed and I will miss my connection...and, they're working on a new connection (but haven't established one yet.)

I'm a little worried (road warriors always prepare themselves with backups and alternatives), so I hop onto their website and see there's a 6pm connection to my destination...the last flight there. Even with the delay of my departing flight, I should be able to make the last connection, no sweat. What bothers me is why the airline didn't automatically book it for me. So, I try to re-book myself and the site won't let me unless I pay an additional $ know what I say about that...fuggedaboudit...I gotta' speak to a real person.

I call reservations, and wait for 20 minutes to speak to an actual person who informs me that they'll have to transfer me to someone who can help. Fine with me. I get switched to another call queue where I wait an additional 15 minutes before I get to talk with someone. Badaboom badabing...takes just three minutes and I'm booked on the 6pm connector. I ask the agent for the new departure time of my originating flight and am informed that it is 3:45.

I arrive at the airport just before 2:45, go to the carry-on check-in kiosk (road warriors never check their baggage), but it wouldn't let me check in...I must seek the assistance of a ticket agent. Now, I know from experience that this often happens when you show up less than 30 minutes prior to departure time, your flight has already left without you (Oh shit, ya' think?), or you showed up on the wrong day (I am only a senior citizen in-waiting, not a real I ignore this possibility.)

I tell the agent standing behind the kiosk my problem. Without even looking at me, she points to a line of about 25 people who are all waiting to check bags..."unless you're first class, in which case I can help you." Normally, I'd respond to an opening like that with something to the tune of "Then I guess I'm in the right place. People always tell me I'm a first class guy."...but I sensed that it wouldn't get me any chuckles let alone smiles, so I held my tongue (no, not literally). I look at the first class line, but there's no one on it. I inform her, but I guess she didn't appreciate the update because she barked a "That line...over there!!" and at the same time gave a very angry left-handed Third Reich salute to point the way. It reminded me of the time my teacher sent me off to the principal's office (ok, ok, it happened more than once). I've got an hour, security lines aren't an issue this time of day, it's a small plane so they'll probably board 15 minutes before departure, yada yada I get on the line (though I am very tempted to return her salute with a "Sig, heil."

It takes me about 10 minutes to get to the head of the line, at which point an agent points me to a kiosk. I explain that it won't let me check in, and she tells me to wait (yeah, while she figures out what to do). Takes her about five minutes, then she sends me over to the first class ticket agent (not the nazi fraulein...she had disappeared thru one of those little doors behind the luggage conveyor...probably her break time, even though there were now at least 20 people on line). The agent hits about 75 different keys on his console, spins around once, slaps his knee and rubs his belly...only kidding...he didn't slap his knee...then tells me it may be too late.

By now, it's 3:05...still plenty of I mention that departure time is not until 3:45. He says (rubbing his chin), "Hmm, you're right. Let me call down there (to the gate) and see what's going on." He calls, plays a little more Fussball with his keyboard,prints my boarding pass, and tells me to get my ass down to gate D-45 ASAP. I know enough about the airport to know that's the furthest gate from where I am standing, but I've still got plenty of time to get there.

I enter security, the guard checks my boarding pass and ID and says, "Wait a minute, sir, I think you've missed your flight. Says here it leaves at 2:25"

"Yeah, it was supposed to, but it's been delayed," I smiled.

She nods knowingly, I breeze through security, do a semi-senior-citizen jog down to the gate, and arrive at precisely 3:17.

There's me and two gate agents. "Philadelphia," I say.

The male gate agent replies, "Already closed."

The female agent is not making eye contact.

"But, it's not supposed to leave until 3:45."

Now, I look out the window and the plane is less than 100 feet from me.

"That my plane? The one with the door still open, baggage still being loaded?"

"It was running late. But it's closed now," the guys says.

"I know it was running late," I reply. "It was supposed to leave at 2:25."

He does a (very feminine, IMHO) sigh, purses his lips just so, and turns bee-yotch.

"So, why weren't you here at 2:25?"

He says this with just enough condescension to make my blood pressure thump up 30 points. So now I'm thinking, "Why that bitchy little fanuch!!!" (see my N'Italian Lessons 101 for a translation).

The female agent sneaks me a glance and slips away. Wonder if it was the expression on my face or the look in my eyes? Pick any two. And, during all this time the little fanuch never even made eye contact with me.

Now, all road warriors know that gate agents can make your day...or make your day I hold my temper in check. Aren't you proud of me? Good thing he wasn't looking at me while all this is going on.

"I'm pretty sure the 6:00 to New Haven is the last flight out. There's another flight to Philly sometime this afternoon, but I'm not sure if it'll let me make that connection." I figure sharing this with him might save time (as well as give him a hint that he's dealing with a genuine road warrior...we always know when the last flight is).

He nods and starts doing his thing with the keyboard, and I've just gotta' tell him I'm a little pissed...but not at him. Well, okay, I'm a little pissed at him for that earlier remark, but being the nice guy that I am I'll give him a pass...this time. So, I tell him I know it's not his fault, but I'm ticked off that they closed the flight so early. I figured arriving 25 minutes before flight time would be more than enough.

He looks up. "Who told you it was going at 3:45?"

"The agent who re-booked me."

"They shouldn't have told you that."

He pointed over his shoulder to flight information board. It still had 2:25 posted as the departure time.

All of a sudden I was beginning to see little pieces fall into place. Apparently, they never really officially rescheduled the flight, so when it did come in the pilot was anxious to make up for lost time and took off with whoever was there. Some of the computers were not accurately updated, which is apparently why my boarding pass and the flight information board showed 2:25 as the departure time. The reservation agent who gave me bad info wasn't around for me to yell at, so I took a few deep breaths and let my blood pressure drift back to near-normal.

Anyway, Lady Luck was with me from that point on. There was a flight that would get me in about 5:30, if everything went on schedule. The arriving gate was F18 and the connecting gate was F9, so he thought I could make it "if you hustle."

My wiseass side almost made me say "And, if they don't leave early," but instead I settled for "I don't know how fast I can hustle. Ya' think a semi-senior-citizen jog will be good enough?"

That got a smile out of him. Even better, he apologized for the inconvenience...and was very sincere.

Maybe he's not always such a bitchy fanuch, ya' know?

So, this rant has a happy ending...even though I did manage to get lost for 45 minutes once I left the New Haven airport. I forgot how awful the signs are in New England.

Damn, I think this is my longest post ever.

Anyway, I ended up having a nice evening in Connecticut, which will be the subject of another post.

Badaboom Badabing...