Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm not Mr. Right (Now)

Tomorrow morning, I take off for Boston. This time, however, I'm going with my wife. Will that mean that the flight should go better? No, but at least I have someone to vent with and to when all goes wrong. I can already see it:
The plane will be late
There will be no food
and at best, Satan himself will sit next to me and bitch about how cold it is on the plane.
On to stranger things: being hit on by a fellow grad student. Ok, I've mentioned before that I've had high school students tell me they love me, or ask me to prom, or just tell me they have a crush on me. That's no big deal. However, today I was hit on by a fellow grad student. A woman my own age to boot.
I have been married for four and a half years to the same wonderful woman. Honestly, for the last five years, she's the only woman I think about, and she's the only woman who's ever really shown interest in me. That's why today was so strange. I am fully aware of the "signs" of interest a person puts out when they are interested.
This gal (we'll call her Coach as she is a hockey coach as well) sat next to me in class. If you remember your "signs of interest", she hit a few of them. For example:
Eye contact: every time we talked to each other, she made sure to make eye contact. No matter where I looked, she was maintaining eye contact.
Touch: I said stuff that really wasn't funny. (I made a joke along the lines of "save a tree, don't read.") Yet, she laughed and would grab my hand or my leg. It was very odd.
Requests: Once class ended, I started for the door. Coach caught up to me, interrupted my conversation, and asked me if I would mind walking her to her car. I didn't mind, because I could talk to her about the classes I am teaching this summer. However, she totally dominated the conversation to talk about her interests, the fact that she was single, the fact that we shared a love of Hockey, etc. We talked about everything but what I thought we would talk about. The clincher was that she asked me out for a drink this upcoming weekend. "So we could talk about class and stuff." When I explained that I was going to Boston, "with my wife," she turned red. I felt really bad, because I knew at that point that my hunch was right.
You see, I'm a guy. When it comes to signals and stuff, guys are...well...DUMB! Men cannot really pick up on signals, so the fact that I was right about what was going on made me feel really mean, because she must have been doing everything but holding up a sign that said, "I like you!"
This made me think about the current world of dating. With all of the dating services and chat rooms and stuff, it must be really hard to make human contact for dating. I know a single teacher who put himself on
eharmony and has not received a single hit. Another female teacher I know says that dating is impossible in the modern era. "No one wants to really go out to meet people," she told me, "They prefer to sit in their undies and chat online." She also told me she missed college, because that was the best time to meet people.
I can't really say if it was or not. I have only ever been on two real "dates" as it were. Those I want to talk about another time, because they might as well have been done by the
Keystone Cops. Other than those two dates, however, I haven't really dated, just gotten involved with someone and then had a relationship. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I was married right out of college, so I don't think (unless some sort of act of God makes it so) I will be single again.
So I want to say to Coach (who will probably never read this) that I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. I didn't mean to, and I was really sure you saw the ring. I also hope that you meet some fantastic guy who's totally into you.
And if you're a single guy or gal out there, don't fret. Hey, I managed to get married. I know my wife lowered herself (and she does too!) so anyone can find the right person. Don't give up.
Ok, I won't be able to post again until Monday as I am heading to Boston. Have a great weekend all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Franz Kafka: Airline CEO

I swear that the airline industry was invented by Franz Kafka. It's has the most surreal aspects of anything in the world. Let me take you through my whole textbook debacle.
As you may (or may not) have
read, I left my textbook on the flight back to MSP. I left a message with the airlines that night asking for help. So at 5 in the morning, they called me to tell me that I had the wrong number. They then gave me the correct number and wished me luck. Well, I'm one of those people that when I come out of sleep, I'm not going back. I get up and call the new number. I get a voicemail telling me that they don't open until 8 AM. Fine, I'll leave a message. I punch the number for the mailbox, and the message I hear is, "the mailbox is full. Have a nice day," then the tell-tale click of being disconnected. I called back every fifteen minutes and got the same routine. Finally, I decided I would wait until 8:30 AM, when someone would have to be there. I call, no one's there. The voicemail, however, is no longer full, so I left a message. Fast forward to 11:30 AM. The phone rings, and a woman asks for me. This is our conversation:
Woman: May I speak to Mr. Lee?
Me: Do you mean Leab?
Woman: May I speak to the person who called from this number?
Me: That's me.
Woman: We got your message. You called the wrong number. You need to call...(she proceeds to give me the number I called the night before.)
Me: I called them. They told me to call you.
Woman: Who did you talk to?
Me: John
Woman: John? John.....Oh, he's new. You have to call them back. Ok? Have a nice day...
Ok, armed with what this woman (her name was Debbie) told me, I called John back. Now the surrealism begins. I call, wait ten minutes, and then talk to John. He tells me:
John: Who said that? Debbie? She must not know the new protocols.
Me: New protocols?
John: Yeah, we changed things around here. Call her back and tell her... (he gives me a lengthy explanation).
Me: I don't want to keep going back and forth. Can you just transfer me?
John: No.
Me: Can I keep you on hold while I call on another line?
John: Sir, I'm very busy (in the background I swear I heard laughing).
Me: All right.
So I call Debbie back. I actually get through to her, and I explain to her what John told me. She tells me:
Debbie: He's wrong.
Me: Look, if you can't help me, and he can't help me, who can I talk to that will help me?
Debbie: Sorry sir, they're the ones who have to do it. You need to talk to Julio over there.
Now really angry, and laughing at the Kafkaesque situation here, I call John one more time. I ask for Julio. He tells me that Julio hasn't worked there in five months. FIVE MONTHS! Does no one over there talk to each other? Come on!
So, I gave up. I went to school yesterday and dropped another C-note on the textbook. Not happy about it (I'm essentially out 2 C-notes), but I need the book for class.
So, if you're reading this, and you sat on an AR320 in seat 8D and found a textbook. Let me know. I really would like it back so I can go down to NWA headquarters and brain the people in the two lost items departments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I finally have been able to catch my breath after the last few days and write something. It's funny, but after making light of everything my wife went through to get to Ireland, both of us had horrible return trips to MSP. Honestly, I don't know how these things keep happening to me. Anyway, the stories told in this post are true (unfortunately). We'll start with what happened to my wife, as it is shorter and more hopeful.
Her flight from Ireland was fine. She and her mother landed in Philadelphia with no problems. However, once in there, all hell broke loose for both of them. Her mother's flight was canceled. So she would have find another way to Kansas City. The problem was that the airline wasn't sure they could get her on a flight until the next day. They also wouldn't pay for a hotel (which to me is kind of nasty move). So Caroline has to decide if she is going to get on her plane or wait with her mother (she doesn't want to leave her alone). Well, luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view) her flight gets delayed, so she can wait and see if her mother is leaving. Three hours later, they're both off to their respective cities. However, both got in extremely late, and both of them had their luggage lost. That's right, no bags.
As bad as that is, however, I think my experience was worse. The flight to the East Coast wasn't really a problem. Yes, we were delayed by an hour (thanks, Mr. President) due to Bush's visit to Minnesota, but the real problem was the flight back. Originally, I was supposed to take the morning flight to MSP, but I changed to go later in order to fix things around my parents' home (leaky toilet, broken front door, etc). It turned out it wouldn't matter, because that flight was canceled and everyone was put on my new flight. So, with a 5:30 PM flight, I departed for the airport to give myself time. Unfortunately, I would have a great deal of time.
After being dropped off, I had an hour until the flight was supposed to go. The monitors, however, said the flight was delayed. Fine, that meant I had more time to get through the very long line at security. Well, after a half an hour in the line, it was finally my turn to go through, and it was at that moment that two little league baseball teams showed up. Why do I mention this? Because they were rushed through my line, and I was forced to wait (oh so close) as they went through one by one. Again, not happy, but I had time.
Now through security and at the gate, we learn that the plane has been delayed for three hours. If you've never been to
Bradley Airport, it's the kind of place where everything (including the bars) shut down at 6 PM. By the time I got through the security check, got to the gate, and finished talking to the gate agent after being called up, everything was shut down, which meant no dinner. Now everyone who was supposed to be on my flight was jumping ship to other flights or airlines to make connections. We were getting so low on passengers, that they considered canceling the flight all together. However, they told everyone that if the flight was canceled, they would not have to pay for dinner or hotels, because "This is due to an act of God, and we are not responsible for it." That's a great way to keep customers.
Can it get worse? Sure can, folks! As I sat reading and waiting for the plane, a couple of fishermen, who were also on my flight, started comparing rods and reels. They pulled them out and showed them to a kid sitting near them. Well, one of them had a hook (which I would have thought was illegal, because it's sharp and pointy), and he was dangling it around. I shifted and was caught by the hook. It dug right into my shirt, and when pulled back (not realizing it was in there) he tore my shirt a big new hole. I really liked that shirt. Did he apologize? Sure. Did he offer me anything else, even a drink? Not on your life.
Finally, at 8 PM, we board the plane and leave. It's mostly empty, so everyone gets a good seat. The problem is that with such a fast turnaround, they forgot to load on drinks and food for purchase. They have nothing.
During the flight, it was your typical audience. The loud guys in the back swapping stories, the family traveling together, the couple who got engaged, etc. The problem is that I sat behind the family who argued for the entire flight. I have never heard people argue over something so petty as shoelaces, but there were the two kids arguing over the older one's shoelaces.
Approaching for landing, the front of the plane was suddenly full. Everyone with connecting flights was moving forward. Returning from the bathroom, I suddenly had a woman sitting in my row. That was fine, but she talked for 35 minutes straight. I learned about Grand Forks, about her childhood, her kids, her husband, why her legs hurt, etc. I was reading, and I never looked over, but she kept going! When we landed, she panicked, and so before the plane was even truly stopped, I was in the aisle, and she was rushing to the door.
The worst part is that when I got home I realized that I had left my textbook on the plane. The combination of fatigue, hunger, and annoyance meant that I was unobservant when I disembarked from the Airbus (what an apt name that is nowadays). So, I called Northwest, and we'll see if they can find it.
I like traveling. I really do, but I really am starting to hate flying. Of all the forms of traveling in all the places I've been, the best has honestly been on the train in Europe. It was comfortable, it was clean, and it was friendly. The airlines are no longer like that. At least not in Minnesota. I'll give an update if my book is ever found.