My kingdom for a seat

I’m flying a lot these days for work. I actually love to travel – and even love the “airport experience”. So it’s not the huge inconvenience that others find it to be. When I started traveling more, I purposefully chose Delta to be my air carrier of choice. I wanted to rack up frequent flyer miles and eventually achieve “status” – that little thing that helps get you upgrades and other perks for being seen as a truly “frequent” flyer.

Sho’ nuff, it only took a few months before I’d reached Gold Medallion status. This is the second of four tiers in the Delta Medallion program. I’ve got nothing on the folks who have Platinum or Diamond status, but getting a first-class upgrade every now and again is pretty nice. But it doesn’t always happen, and it surely doesn’t happen on planes where there is no first class, such as my flight the other day returning from St. Louis.
The plane was a CRJ-50. If you’ve ever been on one, you’d know. People over 6′ tall have to stoop to walk the aisle. People more than 2′ wide have to virtually walk sideways. The seats are all leather, which I suppose is alright… but they’re not exactly made for large individuals, either. It was with extreme fear that I saw a large gentleman moving towards my row and a confirmation of that fear as he pointed to the window seat next to me.
These days, that’s the indicator that you (the person in the aisle seat) has to move to make way. No “hey, I’m sitting there, can you please move?” or “Hi – looks like I have the seat next to you.” Rather – it’s just a point and a grunt. But ok. Whatever. I can understand traveler sign language (TSL).
As I stood up, I dropped the armrest between the seats. This is also TSL – it means: you stay on your side of the row and I’ll stay on mine. Or, in other words: DON’T TOUCH ME. I knew we were going to have a problem as he lifted it out of the way as he moved into his seat.
Actually, he didn’t have a choice. He was now using 100% of his seat… and 25% of mine. Ugh. This was going to suck. 2.25 hours from St. Louis to Raleigh. I wanted to move – and I thought about going up to the flight attendant and suggesting that I should get 100% of my seat for the price I paid for it. But remember those small aisles? Well, between the other passengers boarding and my desire to get home quickly, I simply didn’t want to make a stink. God knows that the person who complains is more likely to find themselves a guest of the TSA for a little while.
So I kept my seat – leaning into the aisle the whole trip home. I was getting more and more pissed off at each passing moment. Upon arrival at RDU, I found the gate agent and asked for the Station Manager. This is the person who has ultimate control of all things airline-related at your particular terminal. The gate agent informed me that the Station Manager wasn’t present (it was, after all, 9:30pm), but that they were a red-vest and could handle whatever issue I threw at them.
I said “ok” fine – I wanted compensation for the trip as a result of not getting the full seat that I’d paid for. I was forceful, but calm. Direct but not demanding. I simply indicated that I didn’t believe that I should have to pay for a full seat when I didn’t get one.
RedVest’s first response was that I should’ve let someone know before leaving STL.
“Wait. It’s MY responsibility to tell you when I clearly don’t have my seat to myself?”, I asked.
Well, he said… sorta’. He explained that I should’ve asked the flight attendant to reseat me and that had they been unable to do so, that they would’ve asked the other passenger to get off the plane or buy a second seat.
I was nonplussed. I again suggested compensation. RedVest offered a $50 travel voucher. I demurred and suggested that there was a) more that he could do for me; and, b) that I wasn’t going to leave until he was able to do something more – as I knew that while he suggested I call Delta Customer Service when I got home, that leaving the airport was giving up leverage. So I stayed put and started talking with him in a more collegial tone. Commiserating about the crowds, stupid travelers, “real” problems, etcetera.
Finally, he asked to look up my account to see what he could offer. I was a little shocked (though I shouldn’t have been) at the amount of data he had access to about me. He asked if I was going to be taking any more flights in the near future and I said I was, but I hadn’t booked them yet. So he pondered his navel for a little while and then suggested that he could offer me some frequent flyer miles.
In the Delta system, there are two types of miles. Miles you can use to redeem for future stuff… and miles that count towards your Medallion status level. I, as you can imagine, am not really interested in redeeming miles for more time on airplanes. So I asked him in a good natured way whether they were Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM’s) – their official term for the “good” miles. He gently laughed in commiseration with my assessment of the situation as he indicated that they weren’t. Bummer.
Again, he went back to contemplating the nature of the universe and suggested that well, perhaps he could do miles plus something else. “Like what?”, I asked. He then told me that he could do a one-way class upgrade that I could redeem for any future flight – guarantying a first-class seat when my normal status didn’t/can’t get it for me (such as on virtually any flight from Atlanta). OK, now we’re getting somewhere.
So I said, ok… let’s do a package. Make it work for me. And he proceeded to print out the materials granting me the one-way upgrade.
Then we turned back to the miles. He offered 5,000. I said come on… how many miles does it take, at minimum, to get somewhere? 25,000. Right… so 5,000 gets me what? Nothing. He responded, ok… how about 7,500. I paused and said, point blank “We need to hit 5 digits. You can do 10,000.”
It was his turn to pause. “OK… 10,000. But I can’t do anymore.” He printed out the card granting me the 10,000 miles (which I think we’re going to use to go to London… but that’s a story for another day).
Right as he handed it to me, I said, “OK… now we can do that $50 travel voucher.”
He was taken aback. “What? I can’t do that.”
“Sure you can… we were talking about a package. I just spent 2.25 hours leaning into the aisle, getting hit by the flight attendant EVERY SINGLE TIME SHE WALKED BY. You can do the voucher. Give me the package.”, I said, almost invoking the Jerry Maguire “Show me the money.” tone.
And as it was printing, RedVest lamented that he was going to get a call about it in the morning. As I walked away, thanking him for his help, I just told him to tell his boss that he was dealing with a professional negotiator.
What I think I really need is a tagline I can say after I’ve gotten my way. “You’ve been negotiated…” just sounds too cheesy.

Building Nicknames

The Raleigh, North Carolina city council approved the building of a brand-new 480 foot tower building near Crabtree Valley Mall, to be named Glen-Tree Tower (Glenwood is the road it’s on). This mall, however, is about 3 miles from the center of town (where all the tall buildings are). Of course, this new building is going to be the tallest building in the city.

Now, this happens to not be the first time that a city in this area has tried such a thing. In fact, if you’ve ever visited the Durham area (especially near Duke’s campus), you might have seen a tall, out-of-place building with a large spire on top. Technically, this is the University Tower. It’s more affectionately known, however, due to its size and shape as the Durham Dick.

In the last 24 hours, however, just since the announcement of the new Glen-Tree Tower, I’ve heard THREE other nicknames for the Durham Dick… none of which I (or my NC-native wife) have EVER heard before. First was the Green Pickle. Now, this was uttered by a City Councilman. So I initially thought that perhaps he was going to say Durham Dick and then realized at the last second that he was being recorded for radio and TV and that Green Pickle was the first thing that came to mind as the building does have a sort of green hue to it given it’s mirrored facade. But overall, I dismissed this name as just stupid.

Tonight I get home and my wife tells me that she heard two other names…. Duke Kook (insert REALLY puzzled look here), and Green Weenie (which, again, I think I can understand).

So… I was sitting here trying to think of a name for the new Glen-Tree Tower. Something catchy… something alliterative. And I stumbled on it pretty quickly. The Captial Cock.

I just wanted to be the first to publish it. Cafe Press logo items will be for sale shortly. 🙂

Um, I said 81, not 18!

It’s friggin’ cold out there!

When I moved to NC from Indiana about 6 years ago, one of the reasons for the move (besides being bored with the midwest) was the fact that each winter became a trial of how to survive in the great white north. It’s friggin’ cold, eh? Hozer.

So I moved somewhere that I was told you could play golf 11 months out of the year… where I would probably never need my ski jacket again… a place where, when people refer to toboggans, they’re talking about hats, not sleds… a place where I would have to DRIVE to see snow.


In the last several years, there’s been an uncanny cold snap down here. Not to sound arrogant, but I think the cold followed me as I moved. Because I’ve needed my ski jacket (the one rated well enough to keep sherpas warm while they scale Everest) every year I’ve been here! And yes, it really is only 18 degrees (F) outside.

So, if anyone has a direct line to the weather folks, please get them to turn up the thermostat. Thanks. 🙂

I’ve had it with weather that the locals don’t know how to handle. I’m from a tiny town in the NW corner of Indiana – very close to the border (and thus Chicago). We get TONS of inclement weather and more snow in a day than some folks in NC have seen in their lifetimes. So I really don’t understand why folks down here can’t figure out how to remove the relatively tiny amount of snow and ice we get from the roadways.

Today alone they’re reporting that there have been over 1,000 traffic accidents. Now, it seems to me that if the state/county/city doesn’t know how to REMOVE the snow/ice, that folks would realize this and also realize that they don’t know how to DRIVE on said snow/ice. They should just stay home. But they don’t. The result is that the universe has a few less living people today.

But I guess I can’t say much because Tina and I tried to go out today (she’s staying with me for security purposes). She called her office and found out that it was scheduled to open on a two hour delay. At 9am, I went downstairs and started shoveling the driveway. I cleared the bulk of the ice from her car and the drive and when my lungs felt like they were going to burst, I went back indoors.

So at about 10:30am, we tried to leave home. We got off the driveway, down my block and around the first corner. The next road was uphill, and about a block into the trip, we saw an SUV on the side of the road just sitting there blowing exhaust. Tina wondered aloud what they were doing just sitting there – blocking the road!

As we passed them, traction became non-existent and we started spinning the wheels. A kid was standing about another 25 yards ahead at the top of the hill, waving us on as if we were having to watch for cars coming around the bend. But it didn’t matter because we weren’t moving forward anymore and the front of her car was drifting to the left.

We stopped completely, I got out and promptly lost my footing on the sheet of ice formerly known as pavement. I tried to help Tina in any way that I could… but we quickly realized that we were going to just head home and spend another day inside. Two minutes later, I was on the ground – plopped down on my butt because I couldn’t stand straight.

Returning home was fairly simple and with a little speed, we made it back up the driveway without further incident. Tina almost took a spill simply trying to walk back to the front door. I was upset because we weren’t going to be able to get any more groceries and I was out of french fries.

To be honest, the rest of the day was almost entirely uneventful and it really runs together with the other two days of being trapped in the house. So I can’t honestly tell you what happened today versus what happened yesterday.

The last two hours, however, are pretty fresh in mind. We had dinner (still no french fries and I’m even running out of potato chips – please, someone ship them to me… the US Post Office delivered mail again today so THAT’s available), watched some TV and now we’re putzing around before bed.

Oh, and my virus scanning software is still running. This is about 5.5 hours now – scanning about 250K files. I don’t know what it’s doing, but it’s not finding any virii. Again, I’m on a Mac, so I’m fairly immune to most things out in the wild – but I was trying to be vigilant considering the new e-mail worm that’s been out here for the last 48 hours. Maybe one of these days, the scan will end. I dunno’.

I guess I’ll post again when I’m sure I’m clean.