On my end, I got a woman who told me we could either take a 9 PM flight out that night or try first thing the next morning. She was testy and completely unsympathetic to the fact that this was our 7-years-late honeymoon and I had arranged a party for Joe's 40th birthday celebration in Vegas that night. She simply reiterated, "I can get you on the 9 pm, ma'am...there's nothing I can do about a broken plane (said with an inferred tone of "sheesh" and "you're a dummy").
"So we got up at 3:30 am for a flight that leaves tomorrow morning? F*$ck that."
|Joe: One Man, Two Jobs, Three Kids and a Seriously Flawed Wife. No wonder he swears.|
(For the record, my dad gets a big kick out of an agitated Joe. It's like free entertainment. Every time another contact or agent gave us bad news, my dad would look at Joe expectantly for an amped-up, profanity-laced reaction. He would laugh merrily and pat Joe on the back as if to say "good one, son, good one").
Joe talked with an Expedia agent named Sanjeev who tried heroically to get us an earlier flight. We threw out a litany of different departure options. We could leave from Milwaukee, Gary, Bloomington, or Chicago-Midway. At last, Sanjeev came back to us after talking with American Airlines.
Sanjeev: I got veddy good news, meester Joe. We send you from Indianapolis to Las Vegas? Vat good, no?
Joe: Indianapolis? I said Gary, not Indianapolis! It's not even the same letter!
Sanjeev: So sorry, meester Joe. I do tell vem Gary, I no understand how vey got Indianapolis. You right...not veddy good. I be back....
After several hours (yes hours) of Joe dealing with Sanjeev who was dealing with American, Joe hit his limit.
Sanjeev: Yes, meester Joe?
Joe: Tell American Airlines to go f&*ck themselves and that this is their f*#ckin' problem and they need to fix it so we get to Vegas this afternoon. Do you understand?
Sanjeev: Yes, meester Joe.
And with that, Sanjeev was off the line for several minutes. When he returned:
Sanjeev: Meester, Joe?
Joe: Yes, Sanjeev.
Sanjeev: I tell vee manager at American Airlines to...ah....f&*ck themselves...and....ah....fix the f*$ckin' problem or....how you say...ah....get f*#cked like you tell me (the word f&*ck was said extremely tentatively, as though Sanjeev had never actually used the word before that very day).
Joe: And what did they say?
Sanjeev: Oh, meester Joe. Vey hung up on me. I tink I made vem veddy veddy angry.
Somewhere during our phone battles, we decided to drive to O'Hare and face-off with the American Airlines reps there. As we approached the counter, I had no doubt in my mind that security would be called and we'd suffer a life-time ban on American Airlines. The first counter person booked us on a flight that was delayed which wouldn't allow us time for our connection. We were given various reasons for an inability to secure a timely flight, yet they all contradicted each other: weather, security breaches, maintenance, a butterfly flapped its wings in China...
Within a few hours, we were standing in the mile-long line for the third time that morning. As I tried sizing up the different agents, I prayed we wouldn't get Isabel on the end. She was a tiny little thing with gray hair and glasses perched on the end of her nose. She didn't seem particularly impressive or powerful. I was being irrational and extremely ageist, but the universe would soon teach me a lesson about making these kinds of assumptions ever again.
Isabel was assigned to us. She didn't ask a lot of questions. She seemed to recognize that a 9 pm flight out that night was not going to be warmly received. She typed furiously. She took note of Joe's "I'm going to rip someone's throat out" face. Smoke came out of her keyboard. Phone calls were made. And within 10 minutes, she was able to do what Sanjeev, the managers at American Airlines, and all the rest of them couldn't do: she got us a flight that landed at 4:30 pm in Vegas.
We'd have to fly through Tulsa and Dallas, but at that point, we were actually getting away. Away. Away from the kids. Away from the laundry. Even if we got stuck in Tulsa for a day, we'd be a-way.
And that is how Isabel saved the day. And somewhere over at Expedia, Sanjeev is probably dropping the F-bomb like nobody's business and secretly praying that crazy Chicago southsider "Meester Joe" never ever calls him again.
Up next: Why airports have bars.