Saturday, December 27, 2003

X-mas Incompetence

I am currently in Australia!

This long day's journey into night begins on Christmas. An appropriate time for any journey to start, Holly and I are leaving a rain-streaked, lazy, family X-mas in Vegas to embark on the "flight from hell" to Sydney, Australia. Our first leg, to LA, goes off without a hitch, until all hell breaks loose.

We're sitting on the plane, miserably squished between a window and a stern-looking Japanese businessman who doesn't speak any English, as we're waiting for the flight to take off. Waiting, and waiting, and did I mention waiting? As it turns out, this flight is fated not to take off for another couple hours. Apparently, there are some lights in the cabin, that, goshdarnit, just won't go off when they're supposed to, when the rest of the lights are extinguished. So we're waiting for minor repairs to occur. Our plane actually takes it's place in line for take-off. And then it DRIVES BACK TO THE GATE. Holly and I are dismayed, but she decides to take a dromamine, and spend the first half of the flight in peaceful oblivion. I sit there, digging my fingernails into my face, until I too, decide that sleep shall be the best option.

It's not that the flight is extremely crowded, because it's not. But there certainly isn't a row big enough for two girls to move to together. The math seems pretty logical to me. There are three of us sitting in a row for three people. Wouldn't it be better if one person moved to another row rather than two? Wouldn't it make the most sense if our Japanese friend simply removed himself to one of the rows of four seats in which only one other person was sitting? Apparently not, cause his seat is HIS seat, and his ticket says he must sit in that particular seat number. Blast the Japanese and their rule-abiding society! May I also say something about the hard-working factor? While Holly and I are doing one of four things; a) sleeping with our mouths hanging open while our vocal chords are slowly sapped of all moisture, b) munching on our prolific stock of sweets, c) reading crappy girly magazines, or d) swooning over Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, as "Pirates" happens to be our in-flight movie, this man is content to do schoolwork the ENTIRE time. Mind you, this flight lasts about 20 hours. Excuse me while I vomit off the side of the plane.

Our Japanese neighbor was small chuckles compared to the emotional needy pilot, who made such speeches as: "I'm not apologizing again for the delays, it's not our fault, we're doing everything we can and deserve some appreciation." Holly and I were practically rolling around on the floor, we were laughing so hard. Guess we don't have any respect- cause if it's not US Airways' fault, then whose is it?

Although the best part of the evening happened before we even got on the plane. The incompetent airline worker looked at my ticket and said:

AW: "So, you're flying into LA today?"
Me: "Actually, we're flying into Sydney, and need to check our bags all the way through."
AW: "You're not flying to Sydney. It doesn't say that here."
Me: "Er, yes it does. Try unfolding the entire page and actually reading it."
AW: "It says you're flying out on the 27th. So you're spending a couple days in LA."
Me: (while patiently pointing at the paper like a kindergarten teacher explaining the blatantly obvious). "Look, here it shows me leaving Las Vegas and arriving in LA today. Here it shows me leaving LA today, and arriving in Sydney on the 27th because of the time difference."
AW: "Hmmmm (as if he still doesn't believe me). Let me check the computer."

At this point, Holly and I exchange exasperated looks, which don't pass the incompetent airline worker unnoticed.

AW: "Look ladies, it's Christmas, and we don't want to be here either."

I have to bite my tongue to remind him that, actually, I do want to be here, seeing how it's my vacation, and I'm going to Australia! And incompetence has nothing to do with Christmas. Maybe if he was irritable with us, that could be his excuse. But he was a bloody retard, and the only acceptable excuse for that would go something like:

AW: "I'm sorry, I can't read an itinerary even though I'm trained to do so, because I'm going through an intensive course of progressive brain surgery that has altered all the training stored in my right lobe." Or a simple, "I haven't slept in 48 hours" would do just fine. But the "It's-X-mas-and-I-don't-want-to-be-here" excuse just wasn't going to fly.

Incompetence was the theme of the day. We next encountered it at Burger King. We already didn't want to be paying for overpriced fries, but there seems to be a perennial airline rule that no meals will be served within three hours of approach or take-off. So we had no choice but to wallow in excessively priced airport fare. We stood at the damn Burger King counter for a half hour, only to discover that the pimply-faced teenage worker had thrown our order away, and it would take thirty more minutes to prepare another one.

We nixed the fried food and made it to Australia in one piece; thanks to an extensive supply of Twix bars. We didn't cause too many airline fights, and we even found a hostel in Wooloomooloo, so I could pay homage to the god of Russell Crowe.
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