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What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas…(if you can get there)

12/19/2008 Leave a comment

I was asked by my friend Julie to drive her and her husband Jeff to the airport this morning to make a 5 am flight with NorthWest Airlines. This was a huge event for them as it was a combination Christmas present for him and a birthday present for her. There were several weeks put into planning this trip.

If I remember correctly, the itinerary involved flying out of Omaha to Minneapolis via Northwest Airlines. Then from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. From LasVegas, they had a rental car waiting for them to drive to San Diego, CA to meet up with her dad for the first holiday spent together since she was 8 yrs old.  After some time in San Diego, they would drive back to Vegas for a few days. She managed to land 5th row tickets to see The Mindfreak Chris Angel on her birthday. They would then fly back on Christmas Eve.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

Let me back up a little for the evening.

We spent Wednesday night at Mic’s Karaoke Bar singing and celebrating a makeshift birthday party for Julie. There was food, drinks, some dancing, and singing. I also forgot to mention that our first decent winter storm warning was in effect and the sleet had already begun to fall and accumulate into a respectable amount of frozen slush on the streets.  In fact, we probably shouldn’t have even went out to the bar, but nonetheless we did. It was that type of weather that told all of the new first time SUV drivers that they were invincible and needed to drive across town 3 or 4 times before going to bed for the night.

Logic also says that if you have to take someone to the airport to make a 5 am flight, that you shouldn’t be out drinking late either. But nonetheless…I did. I made it back home around 1 am without any major problems. Roads were ice and snow covered. This is when I absolutely treasure my little Land Rover. Never been stuck in the snow, went off road accidentally. It handles the snow much better than 90% of the vehicles out there.

I get a call from Julie around 1:15am. She asks me to check flight information on the Internet to make sure their flight was still leaving on time. I did….and it was. We then realized that I would have to be leaving my apartment in about an hour to go get them.

I stop and get gas, and arrive at their house a couple miles away. Load up the luggage and off we go. Now at this point, driving conditions are less than favorable. I am driving confidently though knowing how my car does in the snow. Julie is sitting in the passenger seat and is hiding her face talking about how she wants to go to sleep because she is not in control of the vehicle in the weather. I remind her of the 36K miles I put on my Humvee during Desert Storm and have driven in almost every weather and terrain condition presented to a human and 99.8% of the time did not have a problem ( I did get my Humvee stuck bottomed out on top of a dirt berm in Kuwait, but that was the Captain’s fault for telling me to go that route).

We arrive safely at the airport around 3:30am. I drop them at the curb and I go back around to park in the garage. I go into the 75 cent Quick Park area. I figured I wouldn’t be there for longer than 90 minutes or so. Julie had given me a $5 to cover the garage parking. I haed inside and meet them at NorthWest’s ticket counter where there is a small line formed. We chat about things in general. They get to the counter and I head back towards to other side of the room to wait. Julie comes walking back with a smirk on her face.

“The flight has been cancelled because they don’t have a flight crew for it. They booked us with American Airlines so now we have to go stand in their line.”

We look over at American’s counter, where there was no line…nor any employees. They weren’t there to conduct business for the day yet. Julie explains that they now have to fly from Omaha at 11 am to Dallas and then to LA which will then connect them to Vegas (where they would then turn around and drive back to California as part of their original plan). They would arrive in Vegas around 5pm instead of 7am like originally planned. This plan will cost them one entire day of their short trip.

The American rep finally shows up around 4:15. She already is apologizing to everyone for the delay, and then advises that she will be the only agent for awhile because the other agent is stuck in snow on her way to work. Luckily Julie was one of the first in line for American. She comes storming back to me, even more frustrated.

“Northwest overbooked the American flight, so they’re sending me back to the Northwest line.” Which by now the line had tripled in length.

Jeff  moved their bags into line while Julie got  on her cell phone to call Northwest’s phone lines to try to get a resolution. I pulled my cell phone out and did that too. I was standing with Jeff in line. Two others in line had caught wind of this and they also called on their cell phones. We had 5 people in line all trying to get a rep on the phone, which we were advised that the average hold time wait would be 8 minutes. Bullshit. We all found some humor that we were all synced perfectly with the hold music and messages and started turning on the speakerphones to compare. We watched as 5 am came and went.

Now the annoying part started. Northwest started calling for travelers that were scheduled to be on the 7 am flight to Minneapolis. Their flight was okay. They would be leaving on time to their actual destination. I”m sorry, but I believe in first come first served. They should have put the travelers that just lost their flight plans and put them on the next flight and juggled the travelers after that to better work with less booked American flights. Julie got back up to the counter and came back again with tears on her cheeks.

“Let’s get out of here, we’re not flying today.” I asked her what happened. “We’re supposed to be doing this again the same time tomorrow morning. It seems that they don’t even have an airplane. It never showed up.”

“Well, that would explain why they don’t have a flight crew…”

I go out and get my car to pick them up at the curb. I have to go through the parking fee gate to get out and come back around. I hand the $5 bill and the ticket to the attendant. He looks back at me and tells me it’s gonna cost $6.50. I almost looked at him and said “are you kidding?” Instead I just grab a ten and hand it to him. I drive back around and load Jeff and Julie up in the car. We hit McDonald’s on the way back home (which we were charged a 99 cent tax for eating inside the place).

I understand how airlines have to take into consideration the safety factor of landing aircraft and making them take off in inclement weather, but this situation could have been handled in better ways several times over. Part of this way due to weather, the rest was due to lack of customer service on NorthWests part. I will remember this event and probably want to drive if I ever need to go to Vegas.

I just hope they both get through their trip safely.

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Categories: Rants Tags: , , , ,

Snow Removal Operators & Letters From Santa

12/18/2008 Leave a comment

I would like to start by making a plea to any privately owned snow plow operator or business owner out there. If you know someone in this line of work, please send the link of this to them to read.

YOU ARE NOT EMERGENCY SERVICES PROVIDERS!

I was driving on I-680 the other morning around 6am. The first accumulation of snow had come the day before, and the roads were in black ice risk conditions. I was in the middle lane and was driving around 50-55 mph. A little fast for the conditions, but at that moment, was one of maybe 3 cars in a block radius. I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed some headlights coming up on the inside lane very quickly. I slowed down just a bit in the event that I needed to move, thinking it may have been state patrol, or Omaha Police, maybe a Fire Chief’s Truck…

…the vehicle came closer and flew past me as if I was in Park. It wasn’t an emergency services vehicle. It was a Privately owned Snow Removal service vehicle. White Dodge Truck, extended cab, plow in front bouncing up and down . If I was doing 50, this truck had to been hitting around 70-75 mph.

Just because you carry a plow in front of you, does not make you immune to black ice spots on the road. Your vehicle is far more dangerous with that steel blade on the front. You become a mobile guillotine. I watched as this truck flew past and took some of the turns, back end of his truck slid out a little bit, but not enough for him to lose control. As I watched some more, this guy was cutting in out of traffic, no turn signals for lane changes, and then cut across to the I-80 East from 680, but did it from the 80 West ramp. He couldn’t get moved back over in time to make the change properly, but had to risk the lives of cars nearby to do so in the fashion that was done. Absolutely ridiculous.

So again, a reminder…your service is not life and death involved enough to justify driving like that. If it was, you too would have red and blue lights on your vehicles. If one of your snow plowing vehicles ever runs into mine or one that my children are in and was clearly negligent, I will own your business by the start of the next snowfall season.

Letters from Santa

Now for something a little more fun.

I have found a website that offers a chance for children (or anyone for that matter) to receive letters from Santa  that are personalized. I wish I would have found them sooner because with enough lead time, you can actually get the letters post marked from the North Pole.

Anyways, check them out here. Watch your child’s eyes light up when they get this in the mail!

Saturday Night Live – Taco Town – Video – NBC.com

12/16/2008 Leave a comment

via Saturday Night Live – Taco Town – Video – NBC.com.

 

I just couldn’t let this go without sharing it

Its where the Pets Go…

12/05/2008 Leave a comment

So this morning after a fun trip with the kids to do laundry, I thought I would run to Petco to pick up a few new fish for my new aquarium. I know I haven’t told you about the new aquarium, but I should because its just so amazing.

The aquarium is made by Marineland and is an Eclipse model holding 6 gallons. What makes this system so cool to me is that it contains the water filtration system directly into the overhead lighting hood. And its soooo quiet.

I decided I wanted to add a plecostomus (pleco) and maybe let Michael and Karigan both pick out a fish to call their own. This was my entire purpose on going to PetCo this morning…to spend money.

I was greeted by a sales”punk” as I will define it (flop mohawk, ponytail). He approached and asked if I needed any assistance.

I informed him that I was looking for a few new fish and advised that I knew for sure that I wanted a small plecostomus. This is when the whole experience went bad…

“You don’t want one of those.”

“I don’t? Why not?”

“What size tank  do you have?”

Now at this asking of this question I realized that my outward appearance to him was interpreted as being that I could not possbly own an aquarium that was considered of decent quality or size to justify the owning of a pleco.

“It’s a six gallon.”

“Yeah, definitely not big enough for a pleco. I don’t recommend a pleco for any aquarium under 55 gallons.”

I just stared at him. His facial hair, goatee, thing he was trying to grow, annoyed me more as I heard him. “I have had aquariums extensively in high school, and always a plecostomus, and never had an issue with them getting too big. I am looking for them as my algae, tank cleaner.”

“No, don’t recommend it. Get a Chinese Algae Eater, or just a small catfish. They’ll do the same job, and they are a little more hardy.”

More hardy, I think to myself. Pleco’s are the only fish that have retained their original appearance since the age of the dinosaurs millions of years ago. I don’t think catfish were around then. Nor were the Chinese. Hell, Algae was probably just beginning to be created that long ago. How much more proof of hardy do you need my friend?

So we digress from the conversation a bit and I am looking at the oscars. Another fish I am familiar with since high school.

“I wouldn’t get those. Too aggressive. Again, not for a six gallon tank. What fish do you have now?”

I walked him over to the tank where I bought my fish from last time. I pointed out a blue gourami.

“Ewww, a gourami. I hate gouramis. They are most likely to develop ick. Normally if people have an ick problem, they have gouramis.”

Yeah I can see the relevance of that….the tanks also normally have water in them too, but that doesn’t make the water a cuplrit, does it?

“Do you care about the gourami?”

“Well, yeah, because he is the only one that survived from the three fish I bought here last time.”  And because he is also a living creature…

“I like cichlids. I have a few that have grown pretty big. Again, not for a six gallon tank though.”

I begin to explain to him, “I have one of those Marineland Eclipse tanks. I just picked it up last week. If I like it, I’m – ”

“Oh,” he interrupts. “I don’t recommend those Eclipse tanks. The parts break, and the replacements can be hard to find. The filters almost impossible to find. I prefer the Whisper filtration systems.”

At this point I’m really not believing anything I am experiencing at the moment. “Actually I found the filters online. I can get 12 of them for about $25. All the parts are online as well. The fish however, I can’t get online.”

“Well, we have a deal right now on the larger tank setups if you want to consider getting a better and bigger tank.”

I pretty much just walked away from him at this point. I was so annoyed with everything that he told me, that I ended up leaving with two lava rocks for the tank and no fish at all. I was even hiding myself a bit while i looked at lava rocks and decor peices for fear that he would tell me that I sucked at picking out something so inanimate and stupid.

I was tempted him to tell him just for fun that I also use to have a piranha, but figured he would answer back that I wouldn’t want one because I would have to brush its teeth and should only be kept in 35 gallon designer toilet bowls.

If the guy would have thought this through better, there were a multitude of upsells he could have given me.

Rule Number 1:

Do not the make the customer feel like any of the following:

  • Idiot
  • Loser
  • Ass
  • Mentally Challenged

This guy immediately insulted my request for a pleco. Because they get to big too fast. Bullshit. They can get too big, eventually, but you know what? THAT’s OKAY! Do you know why? It will make me buy a bigger aquarium.

 Eclipse System 12 Aquarium Kit - 12  gallon

Which leads me to provide insight. When he interrupted me in my tank discussion, he would have learned that the 6 gallon was a trial basis to see if i liked the Eclipse system. If I did, I would be buying a 25 gallon for the living room later next year. Which I could move an aggressively growing pleco to if needed.

Rule 2

If the customer is arriving and telling you in different words that “I am here to spend some of my money.”    LET THEM. I was a retail manager for several years. If the customer is making poor choices in your opinion of previous purchases, you need to find a way to work with them. For example, my choice of having a gourami. I chose it because I wanted a pet after missing having my dog around. I also chose it because that day it was on sale and was kinda cool with its coloring. I was given a little 1.5 gallon setup from a friend and that is where the gourami lived as a sole survivor. Instead of insulting me on my choice of a gourami, maybe turn that into somethng along the lines of:

“The gouramis have a tendency to acquire ick. They are great fish and are fun to watch, but if you decide to get more of those, I would recommend you also pick up a bottle of this ick treatment. It will help get the tank healthy if they do happen to get an outbreak.” Wow. See that? $7 upsell. The customer feels like the sales person is on their side. And may sell more gouramis. Salesman has identified a potential future problem that is not even happening at that point, and is sending the customer home with a solution to a possible future problem. Customer doesn’t have to come back out in the snow later on to buy ick medicine.

“If you don’t take care of your customers the first time, somebody else will.” I believe that was Sam Walton that said that ironically. It’s still true no matter where you work. Its also true if you are an employer or a manager. Just insert the word employees where customer is and you will see what I mean…

Mountain Dew – Battery Acid For Your Teeth

12/02/2008 7 comments

Anyone that has known me for over 6 months knows how much I love Mountain Dew. It’s not the caffeine, as i can get that from Dr Pepper, coffee, etc. It truly is the taste.

I recently learned of some information that i am discovering, not many people are aware of. Consider this a Public Service Announcement.

My ex went to the dentist last month and left with the news that she had more cavities than she realized. This was mildly surprisng to me, as she is a twice a day brusher and takes care of her teeth. She enlightens me on the conversation.

Dentist: You drink Mountain Dew don’t you? Prbably more than the average person…?

Ex: Yeah, I do, why?

Dentist: We can tell by looking at your teeth. We actually have a term for it in the industry. It’s called Mountain Dew Mouth.

I was very surprised to hear this. It seems that mountain Dew is the only beverage that leaves a distinct signature mark on teeth when consumed regularly. I don’t know how the technical aspects go, but if anyone is a dentist or assistant, please feel free to leave a comment explaining this to others.

Basically they told her that it has something to do with the sugar content and the Ph level. It works its way into your gumline, and the Ph attacks your enamel. Deterioting it overtime. Then the sugars go to work. They advised her that it is the equivalent of battery acid for your teeth. They advised if you must drink a soda beverage and want the caffeine, to drink Diet Dr. Pepper. Far less sugars and a Ph level that your mouth can handle. Surprisingly I have found that this is the only Diet soda that I am able to tolerate.

I almost didn’t believe this, until I thought of my own teeth. I have a couple cavities as well. I hate going to the dentist. I did some internet research and was amazed to find this is well documented with pictures and everything. I’m not going to post any of the pics here of other people’s choppers being victim to the drink. I will leave that up to you to explore on your own.

So needless to say, I haven’t drank Mt Dew since then. Too bad, as for me, it is an end of an era. And yes, there have been phases of withdrawal from it.