Monday, July 23, 2012

The Commoner's Flight To No Where Part 2

Last I left you commoners I had gotten off my plane into Chicago and was bee lining for the Pot Belly Deli.  I love that place and I was starving.  I couldn’t help but notice long lines of people, which isn’t good because that means one thing-missed connections. But that’s not going to happen to me-that never happens to me.  I don’t really know what that means.
I notice my flight is 2 hours delayed.  That’s okay I’m starving -sandwich, sandwich, sandwich, and then outlets to charge all my I equipment.  I upgraded to a large sandwich and the airport worker in front of me asked where I was going.  Where? New York The Big Apple The Big Italian Wedding you silly man. Get the big sandwich I work that gate it’s really bad.  He was the most knowledgeable and helpful person I would meet all day.
Next I get a text -3 hours delayed.  I sit on the floor by an outlet, and a garbage can-come on you’ve all done that-when i look down and see flight cancelled on my text.  What?  What does that mean.  That has NEVER happened to me.  Okay I’m calm-no problem-this happens all the time and I’m trying to get to NY -3 airports plus Philly, Hartford, Newark, any of those they all work.
I wait on a long line with a lot of people all trying to get to New York. If I timed this it was at least an hour.  There’s one person working the counter and she’s managing flights, answering questions, calling stanby, looking for passengers.  Her job REALLY sucks.  I guess it’s a surprise to South West that they’ve cancelled half the flights out of their hub and perhaps they may need to staff  more people-how could they know that would happen.
I knew this wasn’t going to end well because I”m pretty good at listening to other people ask questions.  There was a flight to Hartford leaving right there and I almost made a run for it.  Hartford’s close, I can drive that.  Oh wait-no bording pass.
When I finally get to the counter my first question is why is our flight cancelled when the next flight to Laguardia isn’t.  Southwest is shady like that.. If they have to they will cancel flights -for fake reasons.  She says it’s not the weather here it’s where you are going-so by that answer I know this isn’t going  to end well. Because they are going to the same place!! You got that right?
Here were my choices as presented by the lovely counter lady.  I could wait on standby the rest of today, tomorrow, and Friday, or she could book me on a flight Friday night..  Friday Night I say to her, I have to be at a wedding Friday Night, if I’m not going to a wedding there’s no point in going-are you seeing my problem?  That didn’t impress her. 

Do you  pay for hotels? She slaps some voucher thing for a discount basically through a  travel agent.  I know how that’ going to go .  Things are getting worse.  The clock is ticking people are waiting I’m stressing and I’m processing and like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz I say I just want to go home.  Send me back to San Jose.  
She gives me a ticket in the C group .  C group means that you will be sitting between two smelly people.  Really I say?  I payed for early bird and you’re giving me a C.  She has the nerve to tell me it wouldn’t be fair to the ‘other ‘ passengers if I didn’t get a C. 
I don’t argue at airports because they are police states and any little thing gets you sent to jail and placed on the do not fly list.
Okay deal done and the trip is over and I’m not going to visit my cousins, I’m not going to go to New York, I’m not going to the wedding, I’m not living at the airport for 2 days, I’m not spending a weekend in Chicago (I don’t even like Chicago-LONG STORY) I’m not even getting Dunkin Donuts..  I’m going back to Cali where we don’t have weather.  
But wait-there’s more..
Okay your luggage.  You have to take your boarding pass and go down to luggage services get your luggage and recheck it.  Wait -what -okay, I can do that.  Why can’t you do that from here I dare to ask. She says oh security.  I guess the TSA doesn’t trust Southwest to tell their baggage handlers what to do with luggage.  If there’s no  way of tracking luggage we are all in trouble.  Shady. And remember this paragraph-because this is later proved a lie.
As I’m taking the people mover through the terminal and down to luggage I notice a super long line at security.  This makes San Jose Minetta look welll -effecient.    I think to myself, I have to get this done fast because I’m not staying here any more than I have to.  Once you leave security anything can happen.
I get to luggage and they lady-her name was Pat-says okay.  Are you on a list.  At this point I’m sure that I’m on every list there is, but which list?  Didn’t the lady upstairs put me on a list?  No you have to do it.  It will take an hour and then you have to go back and check it.  And this list is HANDWRITTEN.  You see South west thinks it’s still 1972
Now I’ve lost it.  I’m famous for never crying-ever.  But what people don’t know is that when I’m tired I will cry, I’ve just cancelled a trip to NY , I’ve been up since 3 and I’ve been on lines all stupid day.  Plus I know that when you do cry, usually it works. It freaks people out.  I’ve seen this work for people all the time and have tried to hone this skill.
 At this point I’m having a total breakdown.  I’m either going to get my luggage or get put in the clinker.  I tell her that if I did all that I would never get home and I just want to go home, and poor you Pat you have to work so hard and are so understaffed and overworked.  And I’m crying and my voice is loud-but my voice is always loud any way.
Pat was actually nice.  She worked hard at getting a supervisor and promised she would try to have them find my luggage, but actually she couldn’t promise that it wasn’t already going to Laguardia-which is strange since I was told I couldn’t go to Laguardia.  
If my luggage didn't make it on this flight then when I got to San Jose they would have it sent from Laguardia-which means I may never see my luggage.  She basically was admitting that the plan they have in place doesn’t work and if I had done the process I wouldn’t have made my flight.  Gee where have I heard that before.  
This stupid girl next to me, who’s luggage was lost and was also trying to get to a wedding that she was going to be in says-you know getting upset and yelling doesn’t help anything.  Well you know what I wanted to do?  I wanted to punch her.  But I didn’t-police state remember?  I just glared at her instead.
So here I am on the plane back to San Jose.  I don’t know what will happen to my luggage.  And I wonder a few things-why was I on  the ONLY flight cancelled out to NY, why I didn’t really give standby a try, why I ever thought southwest was a good idea, and if I ever will see my running shoes again...and finally what will I do with all those gifts I bought for the people I was going to see in NY.  Party anyone?  
I’m a seasoned traveler, and I feel a little defeated. I was beaten for once, but honestly I just didn’t want to play with them.  When I do get my luggage I will be sure that South west sees this blog.  Then I will probably be reimbursed with a ticket, and I will probably NEVER use it, because free is never free.  Not for a commoner.
By the way-did I tell you we are going to Dublin Ireland for New Years with a stop in yes-wait for it-Chicago!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Commoner Takes a 24 hour flight to No Where Part 1

I think I’ve previously written about my love of flying.  I think I may still love to fly -just not in the summer-and especially not on SouthWest.
If you travel in the summer, the prices are high and there are way too many people traveling.  There are storms all over the country which really throw off the airlines, their crew, their planes, their sanity.  Unless you go non stop you really should avoid summer travel.  
I’ve spent many hours in airports because of storms, I’ve also spent a night in Houston, and rented a car to get from LA to San Francisco rather than deal with a flight cancelled for a storm,  and now...I’ve done this route-San Jose to Vegas to Chicago to Vegas back to San Jose-IN ONE DAY
I hate Southwest.  I hate the way the flight attendants wear shorts and sneakers.  I hate the way they won’t give you food or a seat for that matter.  I hate the way there is no in flight entertainment or comfortable seats.
I really hate the way the flight attendants try to tell jokes.  Have you ever heard this one?  If you are traveling with small children pick the one you like best and give them an oxygen mask.  Everyone laughs I get pissed off.  That’s right I said pissed off.  The Commoner is cranky.
One of the residues of my long hockey career is that I had some left over Southwest miles to use.  I was invited to my cousin’s wedding in New York and this seemed the time to use them.  

When you use mileage in the summer it’s really hard.  There’s no way to really use them. The airlines don't release many flights for frequent fliers.

 When I booked the flight two months ago, I knew I would only use one part of the trip.  I knew that I couldn’t make the 6AM out of Laguardia to come home and that I would book a one way back on another airline and I did-Virgin-my dream airline and almost employer.
That left me with the 6:30 AM flight out of San Jose to deal with.  Up I awoke at 3:30 AM and off we went.  I knew the airport would be crowded I knew that I would rush for my flight. All of those things were true. 
I’ll admit I had a crappy attitude to begin with because I knew this day was going to suck.  So I wait in my first line of the day to check my baggage.  30 Minutes.  I was stumped by the new bar code reader they installed and new from the ONE Person they had working there and her attitude this was going to go badly.  

Through security-rush, rush, rush, to my gate, to the Stupid A line.  Then I found out the first surprise-I had a stop in Vegas but don’t worry no plane change.  Okay. I better buy some water to get me through this trip.  The lady in the shop says take a big one you are going to have a long day.  Boy she wasn’t kidding. PS there was no food at this shop.
We land and they say-stay on the plane if you are going to Chicago- we will take a count and then you can change seats.  Great.  Then they come on and say-oops we have to change planes so get off and go to Gate -really far away from where you are now.  I don’t remember the number. 

First stresser-I’m Starving and I don’t have a bording pass.  A bording pass is like a passport.  Don’t lose it , don’t give it away and here I was in vegas, no bording pass, no food, no time to play a machine. 

So you give them your name -show your id and they let us all on first- well after the people who have a blue card..  The TSA were there and I knew they were eyeing me.  Probably because at this point my deep hatred for Southwest was growing.  
So of course they stop me and say we are checking your liquids.  I say this bottle -yes THAT bottle-had not even been opened and I BOUGHT it in a terminal.  We know she says please open it.  She waved something over it which I’m sure was some kind of poison and said thank you.
 On we go-this plane was an hour late -but I don’t know or care about that.  I keep going.  I’m on and I have a seat and come to find out I also have five dollar wi fi and will still have time to get a sandwich in Chicago. Things are looking up I love Southwest afterall.  Not really but I hate them less.
This flight was a little trickier. The flight attendant was extra condescending but let’s face it her job really sucks.  I facebooked with my daughter and ate  Ritz bits and read email the whole flight.  That was cool.
One thing about Southwest is that since there is no assigned seating you have to be really careful.  You can’t make eye contact with anyone creepy because they will sit next to you.  Only look up at clean cut quiet looking people.
Sitting next to me was this woman who’s husband sat behind her.  She was reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  I have not read this book and have very strong opinions about this phenomena-I’ll spare you.  But the point is,  this whole flight I knew what she was thinking and it grossed me out.  I don’t need to know these things.

We pull up to the terminal and the flight attendant says okay you all can go and then she says wait-we don’t have a jet way.  We had to wait 20 minutes for that because I guess an airplane pulling into an airport in Chicago is a surprise.  One passenger got really irate and kept yelling at them to stop joking and apologizing.  I agreed with him but I’m afraid of jail so I shut up.
This is where things get interesting.  Really really interesting-it involves a dripping sandwich, Ben and Jerrys, long lines, lots of phone calls, snap decisions, and tears.  But you know what I have to make you wait commoners because you can’t take too much fun in one day-only the commoner queen myself can pull that off.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Commoner Officiates A Golf Tournament

That's right your eyes do not deceive.  Because when it comes to honesty and golf I'm your girl.  

My friend Megan runs a tournament which is for a charity and named after Kelly Frietas.  I don't know who she is but she must have been pretty special because a lot of people show up for this tournament.  It's held at San Juan Oaks which is the fanciest of the three golf courses in my town.  Which seems like a lot to me but whatever.

Kristen was volunteering to help out and I said "I'm in too."  We commoners are big at volunteering.  It may be why we aren't rich-we do a lot of things for nothing or next to nothing.  We're givers-hey you probably are too!

When we got to the event we were told we would be working the hole in one competition for a new car.  I knew we would be at the hole in one competition, but I didn't know that meant they won a car.  I was picturing a windmill.  What's worse-if we weren't there as witnesses they couldn't have the car-PRESSURE!!

I had no idea my afternoon in the sun with the golfers was going to carry so much pressure.  The next job was driving out to the hole we would be working by following one of the employees. 

He showed us to our golf cart-which I love-I really love those things.  If you ever need someone to drive a cart for you that's me.  He said okay press the throttle.  My first question was-what's a throttle.  He looked at me weird.  I'm sorry I don't drive throttle vehicles.

So we zipped around the golf course, which never seemed that big from the dining room which I've been too many times.  Finally we arrived at a place which looked like the side of a desolate highway.  No plush green grass, some weeds, some fallen leaves, and hopefully not any snakes.  

We pull out and we park the carts and I ask where's the finish.  He looks at me again and says-I'll be sure to check on you guys often to make sure you are okay.

I'm in trouble already.  The only instruction he gave us was to look sexy.  I said, "No problem we got that."

He took us to the T-off spot (or whatever you called it) and showed us where the women hit from and the men hit from.  He said there would be about 8 teams up at a time and you had to be super quiet.  You couldn't say things like -"bad shot".

  I know golfers are a cranky lot and I volunteered to go to the finish part, also known as the hole or whatever.  He told me he had been here since the golf course opened and only two people got holes in one on this hole.  It  sounded a lot safer to be there where I could chat with them under less pressure.  Plus I was sure someone would pay me off to say they got a hole in one and could take the Ford Focus home.  Hey-I can be bought.

Just kidding.  I drove my car to the finish-or hole-positioned it in the sun.   Did I say car? I meant to say cart.  I've been working on a tan all summer this was a great opportunity.  Spare the lectures.

Finally a bunch of golf carts came up the path and they all waved at me and I waved at them and I had no idea what was going to happen since I don't play golf.  All of a sudden I notice a ball go right past the hole out of no where! OMG this is close I wasn't even watching!  (I can say that now).  It didn't go in but that was close.

As time went on the golfers came and went, I smiled and chatted, I offered to make deals for the car (kidding-golfers have a huge conscious).  A family of deer hung out for a while.  They were really cute.

  Also as time went on it got windy and less and less people were even making their ball get to the green.  But apparently you could pick the ball up and PLACE it there and all of you could try again.  I guess.  But no one could really get it in, it always stopped before the hole.

Finally I started giving advice to the players.  "You have to hit the ball really hard because no one is making it to the hole."  So they would listen and maybe do better.  I'm nice like that.  I like to help people.

Lots of people rode by to check on me.  Snacks, pizza, and the guy who drove us out to our hole and probably figured we had no idea what we were doing.

All in all it was a lot of fun. I learned how to be a golf coach.  I  didn't cheat.  I got a nice tan and they gave us a great bar b que lunch.

 This Kelly girl must have been someone special that so many came out to help her. Kristen and I both said we would help again next year.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Commoner Loves Cookbooks

This summer since I decided not to work-and some days not leave the house.  I've taken on some things I've been really wanting to do.  Among these things is learn how to use my Mac Book I bought last year, learn how to make jewelry.  And finally cook my way through the Pioneer Women's Cookbook.

Although I'm Italian and afraid of cowboys and nature.  I'm drawn to that good old cooking that the Pioneer Woman makes.  I also think she's funny inspite of living a life that would scare the crap out of me.

Well this is a wonderful cookbook full of mouthwatering, delicious American recipes and I am going to cook my way through it.

Well a few of these recipes have been bonifide hits.   Rob absolutely LOVED the breakfast potatoes and the french pastry thing (basically a biscuit which you dip in butter and cinnamon sugar while still warm) were both really good.

Sometimes though I look at the ingredients, I read the story, I look at the pictures, I go over the directions-and then .....I decide to just have the dish at a restaurant or go the bakery and buy the item.   It's so much easier and faster and neater.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Commoner Parks Her Car


Parking your car seems to be a pretty involved activity for most people.  Some like to park far and walk, some like to take two spots and protect their precious wheels, some like to look for the best spot available, some like shade, some like to use handicapped placards. 

Me?  I have two demands on parking.  Number 1; I need a really wide spot because my terrible parking skills are both epic and famous.  Admit it-you've probably left me a note with compliments on it.

The second demand on parking is to remember where I put the car.  I have tons of pictures on my cell phone as to where I put my car.  Sometimes my reminder is a note on my cell phone as to the cross street.

I'm sure these problems are due to the wonderful mini van -recently crushed by a garbage truck-.  This van was the auto love of my life.  The first and only car bought for me-not a hand me down.  But it had a terrible turn base and was hard to park.  Also somewhere along the line the clicker stopped working and thus you couldn't beep for it.

So last week when I met fellow commoner Kristen she requested that we meet at the opposite side of the Farmers Market than we usually meet at.  She has an appt. there and the asparagus side was much closer to her than the popcorn side (although they don't actually sell popcorn on the popcorn side-they moved that to the food vendor side but I digress)

 I had no problem with this as I'm always willing to help a commoner out, but if you know anything about my OCD-you already know that this wasn't going to go well for me.

This side of the farmers market is a challenge.  I drove up and down side streets trying to find spots that were both big enough and not too far from the actual market.  I drove past the park and some shady transaction that was going on.  I went up sixth, down fifth, up south, down, seventh, up and down up and down and at this point I knew I was late when -voila -a marvelous spot.

 So as I walked toward the farmers market I quickly glanced up and put the address in my phone for later usage.   433 South Street and off I was to find Kristen

I bought a lot at farmers market last week-corn, onions, potatoes, bread, 2 tri-tip sandwiches, my shopping bag was full and it was time to leave. 

We passed Kristen's car and I declined the chance to get a ride to my car because I was sure I had only walked a couple of blocks.  But my phone said South Street so I kept walking. 

Finally it dawned on me- I had not walked this far, this bag was heavy, and conceivabley  I could be walking for miles looking for my car.

So as Kristen flagged down with a wave and said I think I need a ride because I'm not sure where my car is!  And we drove up all the streets with an S until we got to 7th street and there it was.

I sometimes wonder if I'm losing my mind-hello alzheimers-or if its some sort of ADD where I never stop and pay attention to anything.

Who knows?  I can't even remember what I was talking about.