Sunday, October 28, 2018

Crisis Management

It wouldn’t be a trip without a crisis and, me being me, two crises are even better. Before we left the house I had the sinking feeling that I’d forgotten something critical. Pacemaker, check. Ambien, check. What the hell is it? “You know something’s missing, goat breath. What is it?”

When we checked in at the Egyptian Sands in Albuquerque the light went on, “I forgot all my chargers.” That’s a charger for my Canon 5D Mark lll, for my spanking new Sony RX 100 Vl, and for my iPhone, iPad and my defibrillator.

That’s on top of not being able to get United Airlines, swear word of your choice, to include our TSA Precheck numbers on our boarding passes. It was epic. Trying to do it took 1-1/2 hours during online check-in and, of course was unsuccessful. The alleged customer service person in Mumbai said she had added the precheck designation but when I loaded the boarding passes they still were incomplete. I hung up in frustration and redialed. Agent two also assured me the TSA Prechecks were on the passes but they were not. She told  me, “I show the precheck designation is on the passes. I don’t know why it’s not working. I guess you’ll just have to take care of it when you check in at the airport tomorrow morning.” Now I’m like a dog with a bone. I can’t leave it alone. I can think of nothing else. There’s no way I’m dealing with this crap on the morning of flight.

I tell Peggy that we have to go straight to the airport before checking into our hotel. My dream is that we’ll arrive at the ticket counter at 7:30pm, have the thing sorted out by 8 and are savoring Duck Confit at Chez Nous at 8:30.

It was ominous to turn the corner and walk into an empty United Airlines ticketing lobby, a row of one arm bandits with no players. There is nobody home. “We are so hosed.” I thought. That’s hosed as in fucked. Peggy is levitating with anger. We will be fighting for our rights as privileged flyers and trying to get through baggage check and to the gate for our 7:45am flight. It’s my worst or at least my most recent nightmare.

Just as we are about to give up, two weary and not so happy uniforms appear from a door behind the ticket counter. Peggy is on them like a cheap suit. “We just got our boarding passes and they don’t have our TSA prechecks. We’ve been trying to get this done all day.” Agent one, the short gray one, tells us that “There’s nobody working the counter tonight. There will be somebody here tomorrow morning two hours before flight time. You can get it fixed then.”

I’m pretty sure we were looking at two United agents unless they were apparitions. Peggy says, “That’s not going to get it. We want the corrected boarding passes done tonight.  It helps to bring muscle. The second agent, Patricia, tells us, “We’ve been here since 4am. We’re off.” But she comes over to the machine we’ve been using and starts the check-in process from scratch. She enters our confirmation number and a couple of steps later a page appears with a button that links to special traveler designations. Once she enters our Global Entry numbers we have lift off. We celebrate our victory with ordinary burgers at Fuddruckers. How far we have fallen. At least the beer was cold.

Back at the hotel I go through my bags with obsessive care. The chargers are not to be found. It does not prompt the best of sleeps. I am resigned to, one, having my chargers shipped to Mexico or, two, buying all new ones online or in Guanajuato.

6:15 check-in goes like clockwork. We're at the gate with an hour to spare, even time for breakfast. We do the internet busy work that plugged in seniors do. At 7:15 boarding starts and who takes our passes but our savior Patricia. That chick works some hours. We thank her profusely and she actually smiles.

Midway between Albuquerque and Houston I know where I put my chargers. They are in a black mesh bag in my black carry-on camera pack where I normally pack my black 70-200mm f.2.8 lens.

I have dodged two bullets in 24 hours. Life is good and I am finally on vacation. Now what I really need is good crisis


Blacks Crossing said...

Crisis Management is right! You have captured the quintessential airline experience beautifully here, complete with incompetence, and fortunately, with the employees who excel far beyond expectations and leave you thinking all is right with the world! And why is it that photographers have a sudden loss of confidence when it comes to their equipment? Part of who we are, I suppose. Check, check, check again and still think you have left something behind. Thank goodness you did not in this case, and obviously, you are ready to roll in San Miguel. We look forward to seeing your images and words in the coming weeks.

John Farnsworth said...

CHECKED BAGS? For one month!?!?!? ¡Buen viaje, amigos! Tío: Try Companio on Correo for duck!

Steve Immel said...

Getting there is not the fun. Carrying on is mejor. We've already had lunch at Companio. Quite good but bad neighbors who were breaking up.