Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Comedy and Courtesy

So this week I went on a short trip to San Francisco (Richmond) California for business. The business meetings were great, the other parts of the trip? Well let's just say it was a real weird ride.

The trip was to start by leaving the airport at 8:40AM, I get to the airport with plenty of time and the first sign that this trip wasn't going to be normal should have been the gate change. Now this time of year you usually get a fog delay in San Fran and sure enough we got one. So we land a 1/2 hour late. While walking to the end of the terminal (I had to meet a colleague in the airport before traveling to the meetings) I passed a woman who was taking her phone out of her purse. When she did that I noticed a piece of paper fall out. I was going to continue when I noticed that the paper was colored and stopped to pick it up. Sure enough it was a $10 bill. I quickly caught up to the lady, tapped her on the shoulder and told her that she dropped this. She looked at me and said "Thank you that's sweet". I continued on hoping that she would do something nice for someone that day as well.

My colleague's plane was also delayed so I spent an hour reading in the airport. He arrived and we went to a restaurant in the airport to get some lunch since it wasn't being provided at our meetings. There was no host to seat us, but a server waved us in and put us in his area. We ordered some soda and then started to look over the menu. The server returned after a while and took our order. The guy was definitely going through the motions and was not attentive at all. This should have been another sign that this trip was going to be out of the ordinary. We headed out to see if a shuttle was available to take us to Richmond. The guy explained all the delays and we decided it would be more than an hour before we would get to our meetings and that wasn't an option. So we decided to take a taxi. We get to the taxi line and the coordinator points us to the first taxi in line. The lady driver was very talkative and was driving a "Green" car. She didn't know if our destination would require us to pay 1 1/2 times the meter rate but at this point we didn't have an option. She then programmed in the address of our meetings into her GPS system and headed out. At this point I have to ask if you've ever ridden in a bumper car at a fair or other amusement park? If so you'll know what our ride was like. The driver was checking the GPS to see the visual instructions and in doing so was wobbling the steering wheel which meant we kept rocking. It didn't help that the TomTom was telling her to turn left when the arrows were pointing right. We eventually get to our destination and were very glad to be out of that particular car.

Our meetings went well and afterward we headed to the hotel to check-in, put our stuff down and then head to dinner. I get to the desk to check-in, the guy wasn't the friendliest, but whatever. He tells me I'm in 1211 and points me to the elevators. On arriving at the room I notice that the room is alone, meaning the door to the next room isn't immediately next door as the other rooms were. I walk in to the room and notice that there is a flat-screen TV, a couch, two chairs and a 6 person conference table. There's one problem, NO BED! So I called down to the front desk and a nice lady by the name of Victoria answered. The conversation went as follows:

Me: I have a strange question, but where is my bed?
Victoria: Oh you're in the Parlor Suite sir, you have a sofa bed.
Victoria: Did you get your breakfast coupons?
Me: No
Victoria: I'll have some run up to you
Me: Thanks

Wait, I have a what? I'm paying $180/night for a pull-out bed? Unbelievable. Then I remembered that when I was checking in another hostess was telling someone that the hotel was sold-out for the night. I'm now stuck. So I head down and explain this to all my colleagues. Yes I got laughed at and yes it was deserved. Now I'm not tall, 5'9", but this fold-out sofa bed required me to sleep on it diagonally in order to not have my feet hang off the end. Needless to say that that night was not very restful.

The next day's meeting were fine, but my ordeal had not ended. We got a town car to take us to the airport and nothing weird happened during this ride to the airport. We ate lunch and then I headed to my gate for a long wait (airline wanted to re-issue the ticket to get me on an earlier flight and it was not worth the cash). Finally the time came to start boarding. While waiting for the flight a young lady and her daughter came and sat near me. I noticed her because she was limping. They called her name at the gate and came over and ordered a wheelchair for her. We are sitting right by the gate where boarding was to occur. The lady pushing the wheelchair arrives and this mom says that the chair is for her. The lady pushing the wheelchair laughs and begins to check her cell phone for the name of the passenger she is to take onto the plane. Needless to say I was miffed. I looked at the lady and said "that is for her" in one of my most disgusted tones. The lady looked and me and said "oh". She didn't even apologize to the mom! The mom thanked me and boarded the plane. I thought that this was going to be the last of the weirdness and non-courtesy of the trip. Mr. Murphy had other ideas.

The flight was not full, but I noticed right away that the seats were different colors in different sections. One section was a blue-gray color, this was towards the front of the plane. The back section had seats that were colored a brighter blue. The flight attendant gets on once the door is closed and explains that the gray colored seats are "premium" seats and that they cost more and that we were allowed to move seats as long as we didn't move from the blue seats to the gray seats because these seats "cost" more. I sat there and shook my head. Now this crew was not the greatest in the world. We take off and after a time the pilot rings the bell two times. This usually means that it is OK to turn on the approved electronics (can you tell I've flown often?). Anyways, I start to pull out my iPod when I realize that the crew has not made an announcement about the use of approved electronics. In fact they never did make that announcement. I waited until the drink cart started going up the aisle before turning on my iPod. The flight continued without incident and we land in Phoenix. The wheels hit the ground, we slow down and start taxiing to the gate. However the Crew did not welcome us to Phoenix, nor inform us that it was safe to use cell phones. Now I know that we landed after 10PM but still it was weird that the Crew did not make the standard announcements. Here I thought was the end of this strange trip, however there was one more thing waiting for me.

I get to the airport parking bus and take it to my stop. I'm walking from the stop to my car when I notice a pair of boots by a pick-up truck sitting there as if the person who had been wearing them had been lifted from them. Well this is an airport and strange things are supposed to be reported. So I went into a line that had an attendant for paying my parking. I explained what I saw to the attendant and where to find the boots. She thanked me and seemed a little surprised that someone actually reported something strange.

I got home and explained everything to my wife. What a weird strange trip that I think I will laugh about for days to come.

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