Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't Do Delta

I'm back home in DC after my long week. I still have two apartments - one in DC and one in Coralville, both are barely habitable. I've been going at full-speed, racing around non-stop since about March and I finished it off with a horrendous trip tonight. As I write this it's nearly 2am here and I've only been home for about a half hour. My plane was supposed to arrive at 10:10. Well, I suppose it probably did arrive on time, I just wasn't on it.

After meticulous planning, I booked an afternoon flight out of Moline, without arriving back in DC too terribly late; I do start my job at 9am tomorrow (today!) So, I went with a Delta flight out of Moline (departing 4:35pm) to Atlanta, then Atlanta (departing 8:20) to DC with a layover of just under an hour. I knew there was trouble when I looked out the window in Moline. Instead of boarding the flight at 4:05, the plane was just pulling up and people were getting off the plane when I should've been getting on. We took off more than 30 minutes late and pulled into Atlanta at 8:00. The woman next to me had a connecting flight to Birmingham leaving at 8:15 and my departure to DC was 8:20. We got nervous around 7:30 and asked the flight attendant (or hostess or whatever the hell they call them these days) for more information. She couldn't tell us where our gate was, couldn't tell us if our flights were on time, her only advice: "Run!" and she asked the rest of the passengers to let us get off first. That was nice.

So, run I did. From the far end of terminal D to the opposite end of terminal A. That's not quite the full length of the airport, but pretty darn close. It was 8:05, I pushed through the airport with my carry-on bag spanking my backside with every stride. The bag started to rip, I didn't care - just grabbed the entire end of it and ran, Forrest ran.

I walked up to the terminal at exactly 8:20, thrust my boarding pass at the person behind the counter, and she couldn't care less. She said, "It's gone. You have to go to the ticket counter."

I was wearing layers of clothing, sweating and panting after running for my life through the airport, and she couldn't even tell me where the ticket counter was. When I finally wheezed the question at her, another guy told me it was at the other end of terminal A. Of course it was. Why would it be any closer?

So, I walked up to that counter and explained the situation between puffs off of my inhaler. She said I was on a waiting list for the next flight out at 9:40, if I couldn't get on they'd put me in a hotel and I'd catch the flight at 7:30 the next morning. I explained - in my not so nice voice - that I had just taken the flight attendant's advice and run the entire length of the airport because my DELTA flight was late. Meanwhile, I considered how I would explain to my boss that I had to call in on my first day of work and because I was in Atlanta - even further away from DC than I was when I started! I had already been through a tearful goodbye in Moline, and this was not helping my emotional well-being. Or my lung capacity.

As it turned out, I was number 5 on the list of 11 stand-by passengers and I made it on the flight at the last minute. The 9:40 flight ended up being a 10:10 flight after delays, which brought me back to DC at midnight. I had booked a shuttle for my original itinerary, but when I called them from Atlanta they couldn't guarantee they'd still be operating that late. I was not thrilled about wandering around the airport at midnight, but there were 139 other passengers arriving with me. Luckily some of us got a shuttle from a dispatcher who appeared to be having an even worse day than I was.

I've been doing a lot of air travel lately, I've been on United, American Airlines, and now Delta. This is the first time I've had a problem. I'm glad I didn't have to stay overnight, though. That would've been horrible to call in on my first day. I think that's the key to Delta's customer service. By the time they're done screwing with you, you don't even care anymore - you're just so damn happy to be on the ground. Angie was right - I should've expected this when I found out their slogan is "Go F--- Yourself."

I'm going to catch about 5 hours of sleep then start my new job. Good night everyone. Come and visit me. Don't fly Delta.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The right foot, and the one that I started off on

Everything is coming together. I'm ridiculously busy, but completely driven to get things taken care of. When I was offered the job in DC, my new boss had wanted someone to start right away. She gave me a start date of May 30th to make sure I had enough time, but I could start sooner. Things are moving right along, I've fallen behind for finals week, but not enough to hurt my GPA too terribly much. So, I emailed my new boss today to let her know that it's impossibly ambitious, but my goal is to start work one week ahead of time.

Yeah, well... that didn't quite go over as well as I had hoped.

It's my fault for being a nimwit. First of all, I was operating under the "ASAP" timeline since my new employers have waited so long for this position to be filled. (What is it that happens when you assume?) The real reason I'm a twit is b/c I was so non-committal when I contacted her about it. If you've known me for a while, you'll know that I hate making commitments. Commitment is a four-letter word - like "death" or "marriage" it's something I try my best to avoid (despite some close calls.) So, when I sent my new employer an email that said, "I can't make a commitment and I may end up behind schedule but I'm aiming to start on the 23rd..." her response was - No problem. Since you're not sure, let's just stick with the 30th.

Wait, what?!? No! When I said, "I may end up behind schedule," what I really meant was, "I've already rented a truck, asked my friends to take time off of work, and purchased plane tickets so that I can start next week and fly back for my brother's reception."

I don't understand how this miscommunication happened.

I'm hoping that she was just being nice and saying, "Take your time, no big deal" by sticking with the 30th, but by the time I responded to her email, it was after 5pm EST, and I didn't get a response. I should've just said in the first place: Block out your calendar cuz I'm starting on the 23rd.

In my horror of waiting another week to start work, my tone was much more committal for the response email to her. I suppose I'll find out in the morning. If it turns out that I've worked my schedule toward a time that's inconvenient for my new boss, that will be a very depressing way to start off. I'll still move on the same days and fly back for Mark and Jamie's reception, I just won't be gainfully employed. The real tragedy would be having all that extra time on my hands after I've spent the last two weeks in a stress-filled and overly-ambitious rage trying to get things done and out the door early.

Ah well. Life goes on, I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other - even if they both happen to be left feet.