A mistake booking my reservation costs me a LOT and seats me next to an old friend.


The computer is a boon and a bane

For those who fly on a plane

    It was a bad break,

    I made a mistake.

There’s none but myself that’s to blame

I had a problem checking in at the airport to fly home to Sioux City; the kiosk wanted to give me flight information for someone with the same last name.  At the ticket counter, the agent couldn’t find my itinerary. 

I haven’t made my own plane reservations since before the advent of the information age.  I used travel agents until doing so added cost to the ticket; after that Bethany made my travel arrangements.  Medicine took up too many hours.

This time I had Aliya walk me through the process.

I stood at the ticket counter while Aliya hunted for Wi-Fi service.

The ticket agent searched the computer several times.  One seat remained, and it would cost $1400. 

“Well,” I said, “It looks you have me over a barrel.  I’d like the ticket, but I’d like to speak to your supervisor.  And I’ll call my lawyer when I get home.”  My words were polite, respectful, and firm.  I made it clear I held no anger for ticket agents.

I stayed calm; we had arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

The supervisor, Amanda, arrived.  Professional and smiling, she started punching computer keys.

Aliya located email; I pulled up my confirmation code, just as Amanda found that my return flight had been booked for November.  I looked at the message…sure enough, the mistake was mine.

“Operator error,” I said.  “I’ll own it.  I’m glad I wasn’t disrespectful.”

The supervisor did what she could.  I would have to fly first class.  The bite came down to $840.

I said, “That hurts.  It doesn’t hurt as much as $1400.  But I have no one to blame but myself, and it hurts enough to make me better at booking my reservations.  It’s a learning experience.”

We have negative emotions to teach us to deal better with the real world.

“Not all of my customers have been so polite about things,” Amanda said.

“Being polite,” I said, “has come much easier because I’m not in a hurry and because I’m in a good mood.”  I looked at Aliya and Bethany.  “And you can ask these guys, I’ve been in a good mood since February.  I made some changes.  I’ve been blogging about it.”

Bethany and Aliya nodded vigorously.  Bethany hastened to add, “Not religious.”

I said, “I even wrote a post about why I don’t write about religion.  Actually the worst part is that I won’t be able to sit with my family.”  But we went to security together.

First class brought new experiences for me: shorter line through security, priority seating, a bottle of water waiting by my seat, a decent turkey sandwich in flight.  Nice things, but they aren’t worth the extra expense to me.

The real perk was the fellow sitting next to me on the plane; I knew him from my Yale days.  We worked the radio station, WYBC, together.  He stayed in broadcasting and did well for himself.  I’d not seen him for forty years.  Catching up was a pleasure.

I believe in coincidence though sheer coincidence doesn’t happen often.   A person who decides to see signs can see signs everywhere, generally to reinforce a cosmic sense of purpose, usually unjustified.

But I keep my words soft and sweet, in case I have to eat them later.

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