EST. May 2000 (AD)


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Customer Service

By Pamela Miller

Dear Airlines Customer Service:

It was nice to speak to your many representatives during my recent visit to Austin. From the moment I realized my suitcase didn't make it on the plane, we bonded in so many ways. But the point of this note is not to complain. We both know mistakes were made. I paid you $17.00 to check my bag to Texas; you sent my bag to New York. (If it could make it there, it could make it anywhere.) Nor is this to criticize. I'd prefer to think about the many times I landed in the same destination with my suitcase. Rather, I'd like to share with you the challenges of a trip to Austin without a change of clothes.

The point of this little trip was to see my niece. We had planned three days of fun, and every excursion required some sort of outfit. First, we were going to a literary reading. We are highbrow types, the kind that read for pleasure, quote passages from novels, and pay exorbitant amounts to hear a guy read from a book. Then we were going to enjoy high tea at the Four Seasons. I wasn't actually staying at this hotel. As much as I enjoy the finer things in life, I draw the line at $400.00 a night. The author was rumored to be staying at this hotel. (I think I might have started that rumor.) The tea coincided with the time he would have been checking in. (This is not stalking. This is positioning.) Finally, we were going to the roller derby, which doesn't really necessitate a particular outfit, but one must be prepared.

Every time I called the customer service lost baggage line, I was reminded that I could get faster service over the Internet. Did you ever think that the reason I was calling was because I didn't have a computer, Internet access, or that my suitcase contained the charger for my iPod? This iPod was capable of accessing the Internet, but the battery life is only as long as The Godfather, Part I. I also packed the charger for my cell phone, which in retrospect was poor planning.

You asked me about the contents of my bag. My travel pillow with the 700 thread count burgundy pillow case was most missed, along with presents I purchased for my niece, my specialty teas, comfortable shoes, and seven changes of clothes for a four day/three night trip. (One must be prepared.)

Okay, I wasn't wholly unprepared. I had a toothbrush and enough asthma medicine to stock a jungle hospital for a month in my carry-on. The medication took up the space I could have used for, say, the 12 pairs of socks in my suitcase. I also packed a purple comb, three pens, a notebook and a sleep mask. Everything else, including the brownies I made for my niece, was in New York.

When you told me I could have up to $25.00 towards the purchase of new clothes, I was perplexed. This isn't 1846. A pair of shoes costs more than three farthings. And, yes, I did need shoes. One doesn't walk into the Four Seasons to stalk a favorite writer while wearing high tops the color of Tweety Bird. (By the way, the cab ride to Target was $15.00 each way. So that kind of blows the $25.00 budget out of the water, and I hadn't even picked out a pair of pants.)

The first day, I was brimming with hope. I only purchased a T-Shirt advertising the state I was in. I guess if you're in Texas, you don't need to alert other people to the news. It was just $5.00. I also purchased a pair of socks. They were pink and white and mentioned long horns.

When you're wee, you need specialty stores that cater to the tiny. Target doesn't have a petite section. The pair of pants I bought were meant to be cropped for a normal person. Apparently one cannot purchase a turtleneck in April in Texas. The clerk mentioned something about it being spring with a temperature in the 80s. That has never stopped me from wearing a turtleneck. I ended up with a green cardigan that allowed me to look frumpy as I uncomfortably bared my neck. Maybe I've seen way too many vampire movies. I prefer the clothed necked look.

The shoes were $25.00 and would have looked appropriate on a prison warden.

I visited a coin laundry to wash my real clothes. Add that to the expense report.

I think we saw the back of the writer's head.

Anyway, I think we need to talk about travel miles, a gift bouquet, and the return of my $17.00.


Pamela M.

Copyright © 2009 by Pamela Miller




Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller