Saturday, August 8, 2009

Texas, Twicon and Poor-Ass Service

Ah yes. I finally have time to sit and write about what I did this weekend.

I, being the geek I am, went down to Dallas, Tx., for TwiCon. Yes I went to a Twilight convention. As I wrote my friend Michele, this should have been called Estrogen-fest '09. I'm talking it was a collection of about 3,000 crazy women and teenage girls (mostly women) all about Twilight. As a whole, I had a great time. the first night was a bit on the scary side. Just about everyone I met spoke of all Twilight all the time. Not that I mind, so much, but after a few hours of it, I kinda have to retreat. I took the time to wander the streets and I have to say, it was the scariest thing I think I have ever done.

At 10:00 pm, the streets of Dallas proper were empty. I'm talking empty! Once I got about a block away from the hotel, the streets of this major US city reminded me of the opening scene from "28 Days Later." I was looking for a place to grab a late dinner. I got about five or six blocks away and pretty much ended up speed walking all the way back in the crazy night time heat. I have never seen anything like that in my life. I'm talking this place made me Spidey senses tingle like mad. And I'm not Spidey! So ODD. I'm used to having things open at that time and certainly seeing people on the streets. Not here.

The next day was interesting. I was there with a pretty large group of women from TwilightMoms (TM's). Most of the ones I know well signed up to be a volunteer. I would have signed up to do the same, but I didn't think I was going to have the time to put into it back when I registered. Still I offered my help to any of them who needed a hand. Good thing too, I ended up running a breakout session that ended up being packed! It was a breakout session on hosting Twilight themed parties! How perfect. This I could do. I actually ended up getting a lot of really nice comments/ compliments on the session.

Later that night we checked out two bands, National Rifle and 100 Monkees (Jackson Rathbone, aka Jasper's band). After the big show at the hotel, a group of the TM's and I caught 100 Monkees at this place called Poor David's Pub. This show was much better and I could actually see the band up close. Rob is still a hottie, but Jackson really is prettier! He's a also a sweetheart. I accidentally ran into him after the show. He said "Hey, how ya doin'?" I was a goober and pretty much managed to say, "Oh, hi" and ask if he had seen my friend who drove us. Had I not been so dumbstruck, I would have asked for a photo. Ah well, he was still really sweet.

The following day was pretty tame, the vast majority of the people there had photo ops with the actors there. I decided to opt out of this and try to enjoy the afternoon and take in some of the sights during the day time. Not so much. At about 3:00 pm on a Saturday, just about everything was closed or closing! I swear, it felt like a big joke. Like I was in the Twilight Zone. Haha. No, not the books, I was convinced I was going to pass by Rod Serling around every turn.

So yes, Dallas itself was creepy as shit. Making matters worse, the only place that seemed to have any semblance of life was the hotel and the "shopping center" attached to it. The problem was, service was poor as shit. At first I thought I was being the typical asshole New Yorker who demands everything in a hurry, but no. Everyone was commenting on the piss poor service by the end of the second day. On Saturday morning I was in dire need of coffee. I found a coffee shop. Rather than being my salvation this place really tested my patience. Had Aaron been there, heads would have been rolling. It took them a half hour to get me an iced cafe mocha and a blueberry muffin! There were only about 8 people (myself included) on line in the place! After 20 minutes, I demanded to get my coffee. I finally got it, then I waited and waited. I asked each of the girls behind the counter to get my muffin. Finally I got loud and asked for a manager. I got my muffin immediately.

But this wasn't the last of the bad service stories. At one of the hotel restaurants, during a relatively slow time in the place, it took them an hour to get us sweet potato fries and soup. After asking several times we got the fries and soups. We didn't even want to think about how long it was going to take for the entrees. The problem was, everything was cold as hell. We sent it all back. When we got it again, it was all still cold. A fellow TM, a red-head from Jersey and I asked for a manager. We got an apology and when everything, including the entrees came back out, we got even madder. the soup and fries were right, but the entrees were pretty much ice. I had braised beef ribs, but the fat in the sauce was congealed and floating on top. We got the hotel manager and the restaurant manager and complained up a storm. We all (about nine of us) walked out.

So yes, despite the insanely long lines and late startup times, being out there with a bunch of the TM's was fun. It was great meeting a lot of them that I had only known though the chat forums.

Oh wait... there's more to the story.

If you want to go run to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee, this would be a good time...

Go ahead...

I'll wait.....

Okay, Part Two: The journey home.
I was supposed to be back in NYC at about 8ish on Sunday. Not so much.

The trouble started when I got a call from my a friend who was on an early flight. he flight got delayed by about three hours because of the weather back East. I then got a call from the airline to let me know that my second flight was canceled because of the weather. I hotfooted to the airport to try to find a way home. I was on the phone the entire way there. The good man from United who I was on the phone with got me on a different flight home on US Airways, yippee! (Oh yes, while on the phone, I learned that my original first flight out of Dallas was also canceled because of weather) I got to the airport and was about to check in when I was told that the new flight was canceled. This time because of a mechanical failure and had to go to the Untied counter to have them fix the problem. I took the tram all the way across the airport and I got on a huge line to wait. I was told I was not going to be able to get out till the morning! But since it was US Airways' plane that had the mechanical failure, they were going to have to give me a hotel voucher. Back ont he tram I went all the way across the airport. The line was, surprise, huge and slow moving. When I finally got to the front, I was told I was on the wrong line. Sigh... The line I had to be on was longer. I waited, waited and waited. Finally I got to the counter. I was lucky and found one of the few angels on this trip. She said she was able to find me a flight later in the evening! I thanked her profusely and told her she was a goddess! I really did.

That flight took off and I thought, huzzah, finally, I'm on my way home. I reached the Philly airport with about 40 minutes to spare for my connecting flight. Boarding started all was well, I got to the gate agent and hit a snag. I was told to step to the side. The woman got everyone else on the plane except for a few people. I was the last one standing and all this woman said was, "your ticket isn't valid" and "I can't find you on our system. I asked if she had tried scanning my ticket. She just repeated that the ticket wasn't valid. She tapped away on her keyboard, huffed and ignored my repeated requests for her to please scan my ticket. Nope, nothing. She got on the phone to try to get a manager but still refused to scan the damn thing. Then she announced the final boarding call! I now started really getting pissed and really snippy. She then told her buddy to close the gate! I now started yelling. One of the things I said was, "Listen, you incompetent rag, perhaps if you scan my ticket you'll find me on your stupid system. Or is that too difficult?!" I said a few other things but I honestly can't remember. I believe I thew in there something about having a job a trained monkey could do, but I don't remember the exact words. She tisked, rolled her eyes and told me to talk to the customer service desk. I got on the phone with Aaron who was already on his way to LaGuardia. I screamed the entire way while I was walking to find the damn desk. I finally found the damn thing and got on line.

When I got to the counter I took a breath and quietly informed the agent that if I got loud, it wasn't directed toward her since she had done nothing wrong, and that I was just frustrated as hell. She told me that she heard me coming from down the terminal and was hoping I wasn't headed her way. She then asked me what happened. I handed her my boarding pass and told her the gate agent wouldn't let me on the flight. She scanned my ticket and looked up at me and asked what was wrong with it. I told her, "You tell me." She looked at it again, looked at the screen and looked at me. I told her the woman at the gate said the ticket was invalid because the ticket itself had something scratched out and "E-TKT" written on it. She shrugged and asked if the gate agent scanned the ticket. I told her, "no" and that she refused to do so even though I asked her several times to do it. I also told her that she said she couldn't fine me on the manifest. She said that the gate agent wouldn't have unless she scanned the ticket! At this point my blood was boiling and I started shaking. I was so pissed that I actually started tearing. She called her supervisor over and they called the gate. They got the girl's name and the supervisor ran over to the gate. When she got back, she said the gate was empty and the agents had already gone home. The girl at the customer service counter asked me to sit down and asked me if I needed anything to drink while she got me a hotel voucher and booked on the first flight out in the morning. They worked quickly and gave me all the info for the gate agent. They jotted down all the things that went wrong so when I write in to complain, everything would be documented. Sigh.

I ended up getting to the hotel at 2:00 because the people at the shuttle desk told me to go to the wrong stop. I and a few other stranded passengers were sent out of the terminal and to the right. We were supposed to go to the left. We finally got to the hotel. I was then told I was at the wrong Quality Inn. Back to the airport I went to wait some more. I got in at 2:00 I left the damn hotel at 5:45. Finally my flight took off and I made it home at about 8:00am on Monday. Aaron picked me up about 18 hours after I left the hotel and rushed to the airport. I was delirious! I started laughing for absolutely no reason whatsoever during breakfast.

So there you have it. The long harrowing saga of my trip to Dallas, TwiCon and poor-ass service. Good night!


Chele76 said...

OMG that is just *horrible*

Cathy said...

Welcome back. That trip home was somthing else. I agree with Chele *horrible*! I wonder whats going to happen to the moron that was at that gate (have to start monitoring my comments, lest I say something bad in front of Maddy- she already picked up PFFT...MORON!)

It sounds like you had a good time at Twicon, next year should be better.... if you go.

Dizzy Vizzy said...

I have been waiting with baited breath to find out if you hug tackled RPazz - didn’t see anything in the news, so I assumed that it meant that you did not.

Eww about the food service – that’s just wrong – do they even realize the amount of people that will go home and blog about it as well???

And holy crap with the flight home – lesser people would have snapped and started shooting!!

Optimistic Pessimist said...

wow...sounds like quite the adventure...atleast you had stories to share!!

BeeOhVee said...

Sigh... You know, I'm sure I wasn't the onl person who had bad things to say about the food, service and the airlines, BUT at least i was able to get on and off the plane in a timely manner.

The other day I read a story about a worse flight experience. There was this plane that grounded and the passengers were stuck in the damn thing for 14 hours!