I Love New Yorkers

3 04 2013

After spending more than seven hours in the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Monday, I found myself trying to check into a Fairm0nt Inn at 9:00 pm with my family in tow.

For a variety of reasons including cancelled flights and incompetent airline staff, I had been standing in lines for more than three hours straight.  My kids were actually holding up well with SAG, two old iPhones and a variety of kind-hearted strangers pitching in on entertainment duty.

We ended up at the back of the hotel check-in line which was dominated by families in the same boat as us, most of whom I had been developing relationships with throughout the evening, none of whom had kids as young as ours.

There was only one person at the front desk of the hotel and she was working as quickly as she could to check us in.  However, check-in for each of us with airline vouchers was taking about twice as long as a normal hotel check-in (which for some reason takes almost as long as a Space Shuttle launch.)

At one point, the front-desk clerk asked if there was anyone in line who already had a confirmed registration.  There was one couple, who she moved to the front and processed RELATIVELY quickly (okay, not quite as long as a Space Shuttle launch, and faster than each of us, but still silly slow.)

Despite the fact that we decided to take a cab to the hotel instead of waiting for the mini-van shuttle, we were still the end of the line of missed-flight refugees.  Each check in took so long, soon other vacationers and business travelers were queuing behind us.

Eventually, I heard the woman behind me, (Karen) talking on her cell-phone.  She had discretely called the hotel directly to ask that help be sent to assist at the front desk.  I started watching the women who was working solo behind the front desk and began to suspect she had actually answered the phone.  Was it possible she was actually the ONLY employee currently in the hotel?  And the two of them were chatting?

After Karen hung up, we got to talking.  Her husband then came in from outside, where he had been on the phone, discretely calling the Marriot head-quarters and seeing if THEY could do anything to help. (Their call-center, based in India, wasn’t actually able to provide any assistance – go figure.)

I was in love with this couple, who I soon discovered lived in New York.  These were people who saw the problem and tried to FIX IT without being rude to anyone.  Without complaining or being over-bearing, they just tried to make things happen.  Unfortunately, they failed.

I informed Karen that if they had confirmed reservations they could actually go to the front of the line.  She replied that she would never do that to me and my family.  She was empathetic to what all the missed-flight-refugees were experiencing, even if it was inconveniencing her.  We chatted about the awkward irony of the front-desk clerk answering her call and a variety of other things, as the line slowly inched forward.

Finally, there was just one more family in front of me, a mother traveling with her three teen-age daughters.  Their flight was suppose to have left at 6 pm, their rescheduled flight was at 6 am, it was now 9:40 pm, her kids had not eaten anything, and yet she had stepped in to show my kids pictures of dogs when she saw my patience wearing thin.

At this point the front desk clerk looked up and said, “If any of you have confirmed reservations you can step to the left.”  The SEVEN people in line behind me ALL moved to the left.  After more than 45 minutes my family was now LAST IN LINE, AGAIN.  And seven individual adults plus Karen-from-New-York’s family had moved in front of us.

Karen-from-New-York, was now at the front of the new line.  She turned and said to the rest of the confirmed reservations guests in line behind her, “I hope you don’t mind, but I think we should let her go first because she has been in line for hours at the airport and she has small kids.”

Three people immediately spoke up.

“We all have been in lines.”

“I have to work in the morning.”

“I have to be at work at 5 am.”

The anger and resistance from the group was palpable.  Even though they had been in line BEHIND ME to begin with not a single one was going along with Karen’s suggestion.

I started to shake and muttered, “I am going to cry.”  I bent down and told PJ, “Please go get your Dad and Little Dude.”

I wanted to tell him what was going on and walk away from the situation for a minute.

The woman in front of me with the three teenagers kept her head down and continued to fill out her paperwork.  I am sure she was afraid to get caught up in the brewing storm and just wanted to get her kids upstairs and into bed.

I said to the confirmed-reservations mob, “This woman’s flight was supposed to leave at 6 pm, they now have a flight at 6 am.  I think they deserve to go to their room.”

Now the line of confirmed reservations folks were on fire… “Why doesn’t this hotel have more help?  Why isn’t anyone doing anything about that?”

I pointed to my friend from New York and I said, “SHE did try to do something about it.  Almost 45 minutes ago, SHE called this hotel and asked for more assistance to be sent to the front desk.  She did that FOR YOU.  And HE called Marriot’s 800 line.  THEY actually did try to do something about it.”

Karen’s husband turned around and looked at the crowd and said, “So, you’re saying you have a problem with it??”

It was pure New York and I almost laughed except I was too tired and too in awe.   Let’s face it, I am not afraid of confrontation as illustrated here.  But that, well, it was confrontation on a level where I have just never gone.  But, in my humble opinion, was totally appropriate for the situation.

The group was momentarily silent – maybe they were in awe, too.

Maybe they were embarrassed.

I pointed at the three people who specifically said they had problems and said, “Well, HE has a problem with it.  And HE has a problem with it.  And SHE has a problem with it.”

By then my husband had arrived, and having no idea what was going on and just seeing me pointing at the strangers laughed and said, “Are you starting a fight?”

I explained to him that we were now at the END of the line, and every single person in the other line who had been behind us, all of whom had arrived at the hotel at least 25 or more minutes after we had already been in line, were now IN FRONT of us.  He just took the kids and moved away quietly.

A few more minutes went by, during which I faced forward trying not to cry and replaying the events of the afternoon and evening over in my head.  I contemplated why I wasn’t pushier at the airport to begin with, as more aggressive people ended up on earlier flights, making their connections.  I mulled over the decision I made to argue with the airport personal that it was NOT okay for my 3 and 4-year-olds to spend the night on the airport floor and insisting they give me a hotel voucher.  Maybe we should have slept at the airport, after all, the hotel voucher had now cost me $30 in cab fair and most importantly my faith in humanity.

I was lost in thought and my continued attempt to remain calm as the woman with three daughters finished up and the hotel employee began to deal with Karen’s family.

Almost immediately, she stepped back in front of me and told me I was next.

I said, “I don’t have confirmed reservation.”

She said, “I know.  You are next.”

I am not sure what Karen-from-New-York told her, if anything, but I was now back at the front of the line.

I made polite small talk with her as we filled out the paperwork and she gave me my keys.  I knew none of it was her fault.

Despite the pleasant exchange, I felt completely defeated   As I walked away with my head down, I heard the woman-who-goes-to-work-at-5-am say something about graciousness.  It took all the grace I had not to kick her in the shins.  It took all the grace I had not to stare her down while explaining I didn’t owe her anything as she was more than happy to cut in line in front of my children.   The only reason she hadn’t was Karen-from-New-York and the over-worked hotel staffer concluded it wasn’t the best policy.

Instead of joining my husband in one queen bed, I chose to wedge myself between my kids on the other bed.  They were too tired to argue about the fact that they were going to sleep without any dinner.  They were happy to snuggle in tight with me as I lay squished, vacillating between crying and laughing.

“So, you are saying you got a problem with that?”

I love New Yorkers.





Shanti This

30 07 2012

Dear Fellow Yoga Classmate,

I don’t know if you noticed but this class is pretty crowded.

I have moved my mat closer to yours in order to make room for the people who are still filing in.  I can see that you are not inclined to move your mat over, despite having plenty of space on your other side.  I think it is because you have already “dropped in.”  You have gone deep within yourself.  And, really, isn’t that the point of yoga?

Well, here is the thing.  In yoga, the you-that-is-you, is also me.  By dropping into you, you do not get to be oblivious to me.  After all, I really am just you.

I would appreciate it if the you-that-is-you, would acknowledge the you-that-is-me by sliding your mat over just a little tiny bit.  That way the me-that-is-you does not have to continuously adjust every single thing I do for the entire class to accommodate the you-that-is-you.

I would like to spend this class getting over the fact that the you-that-is-you is so, well, you like.  If the you-that-is-you would scooch over now, it would help me reach a much more zen like frame of mind.  I could, in fact, forget all about the-you-that-is-you even if the-you-that-is-you is also me.  In reality, you are the part of me that I am most trying to forget.

You are the part of me that got here early, found my favorite place in the room then perched upon it as if I not only won the prize but was clearly the most deserving of the prize.  Nothing, and I mean, NOTHING will get in the way of the me-that-is-you reaching my peaceful place this hour, even if it means making a whole roomful of others (or should I say the me-that-is-others?) completely uncomfortable.

The 15 square feet of prime yoga-class real-estate that you are clinging to means nothing compared to the 46 feet on the end of the legs of the you-that-is-others who are sharing this space with you today.

Namaste, bitch.

Sincerely,

The you-that-is-me and sitting 8 inches to your right.





Reality Show Audition: What W0uld Y0u D0?

25 05 2012

In recent months, I have had multiple experiences that were reality show worthy.  Up until now, my embarrassment kept me from blogging about them.  However, today’s experience wasn’t completely embarrassing (at least not for me – and my kids are too young to be mortified by my behavior.)  So, I thought I would write about today’s incident, and then, perhaps, I will summon the courage to write down the first and second incident.

Title:  Auditioning for What W0uld Y0u D0?

Alternative Title:  How I Staged A Mutiny At Great Clips.

PJ is a twirly girly.  She twists her hair into knots on a daily basis.  This unconscious behavior even occurs in her sleep.  The only thing that seems to help is keeping her hair short, which she loves.  When she first started twirling I told her if she didn’t stop I would cut her hair as short as Little Dude’s (#2 clippers).  She got super excited.  It took me weeks to convince her that that wasn’t actually a good idea.

I like short-hair on girls, but I despise the process of getting a hair-cut.  So I avoid it when possible.  PJ’s hair has been growing for a couple months. She vacillated between wanting to wear it in pony tails and wanting to have it cut.  Late last week, she decided on short and has been begging me everyday since to take her to the stylist.  Today, we finally made it to Great Clips.

When we showed up they had a 20 minute wait which would have made us late for swim class.  Much to PJ’s distress, we needed to postpone the cut for an hour.  They explained we could not put our name on a list or make an appointment from in the store, but we could go on-line to make an appointment.  Not a very convenient system, really, but okay.

After swimming we headed back to Great Clips, not having gone on-line but willing to take our chances with the wait.  When we got there we were third in line and another stylist was supposedly on her way in.  About 5 minutes later, she called and said she forgot she was scheduled, but would head in shortly.  The fact that I know this is testament to just how small the store is and how everyone in there knows exactly what is going on with everyone else.

I broke out a game and tried to keep the kids happy while we waited.  It probably took about 10 minutes… it is hard to keep track of time while simultaneously keeping my kids from destroying a public building.

When it was PJ’s turn, the stylist, Kit, was available.  Kit and I talked about the cut PJ wanted and she went to work while Little Dude and I settled into an empty chair across the aisle.

As previously mentioned, I am a hair cut freak.  I hate getting my hair cut.  And I hate getting the kids’ hair cut.  So, I actually try to tune out when the kids are in the chair.  But I could hear Kit chatting PJ up.  The first thing she asked her, “Are your ears pierced?” caught my attention. I don’t know what PJ replied, I am pretty sure she doesn’t know what pierced means.  Then I heard Kit say, “Well, maybe you can get them pierced this summer.”  To which I replied from across the salon, “Or, when she turns 13.”  I was pretty annoyed as piercing is clearly a personal family choice and I don’t need to start arguing with PJ about it now, thanks to KIT planting ideas in her head.

Of course, Little Dude was being Little Dude so I really did not have time to wallow in anger.  I was needed to help him investigate how the hydraulic system worked in the chairs, how blue the lollipop I bribed him with was turning his tongue, and whether he actually could drink from the water fountain by himself.

Despite the chaos, it was impossible to miss the drama that began to unfold.  A middle-aged woman of Indian descent sat down in a stylist named Brenda’s chair.  After a bit they came to an impasse.  The customer explained that she did not like her current haircut which she received at another salon.  However, she did like the haircut that Kit gave her previously.  Apparently she did not know the right words to use to describe the style.  (I can so relate to this… I have no idea if I want my hair stacked or wedged or undercut… I don’t know what these words mean.  I now take photos in and say, “Will this work on my hair?” )

I am not sure whose idea it was but Brenda turned to Kit, while the customer moved to another empty chair in the salon.  Brenda started by saying, “We are having a communication problem,” (which sounded to me like she was saying, this woman’s English sucks.)  She then explained the situation to Kit and said, “Since she liked the cut you gave her, she is going to wait for you.”

I don’t remember how I cut HER hair.” Kit replied in a loud and curt tone.

The conversation between Kit and Brenda continued while the client sat less than 10 feet away.  Including the three stylist, me and my kids, and the other clients there were 11 people in the room, ALL of whom could hear EVERY WORD that was being said.

Kit was basically ranting, “If SHE wanted to see me, SHE needed to request me as soon as SHE walked in the door.”  Part of the crisis was that she had another client waiting that had specifically requested her.  But I am sure all of this could be remedied by talking to the woman directly.  Instead she just went on in a disrespectful tone.  She kept referring to the client as SHE even though SHE was sitting a few feet away. It was insulting to the client and uncomfortable for everyone in the room.

Thankfully, Little-Dude-The-King-Of-Destruction, Little-Dude-The-King-Of-Distraction, pulled me away from the drama.

Next thing I knew, PJ was finished.  The client, who still had not had her haircut, and I were both at the reception desk when Kit started giving her a lecture.  Kit’s voice was raised and she was explaining ad nauseum that the client SHOULD have requested her, or booked her appointment on line.  She then went on to explain, ad nauseum, that another one of her clients requested her specifically and had already come back twice today to see her (which we ALL already knew from her previous rant.)

She was LECTURING this other adult, a woman who was probably older-than-her, about how she would HAVE to wait, or something. I didn’t quite get it – despite standing less than 12 inches from both of them.  She just kept going on and on and on.  And the client said nothing, nothing, nothing… just stood there politely.

Finally, Kit ran out of steam.

She turned her attention to me and started explaining the technical details of how she cut PJ’s hair different.  I was avoiding looking at her.  I replied something non-committal and tried to get her to take my debit card.  BUT she KEPT talking to me.  She seemed to be seeking validation and trying to prove what a reasonable person she was. But she was kissing up to the wrong lady…

I finally said, “It really does not matter to me.  I just want to pay and go.”

She said something, I honestly don’t know what it was, but somehow it encouraged me to explain, “I have listened to you talk enough and I really just want to get out of here.  Your complete lack of professionalism with the way you talked about this lady in front of her as if she wasn’t here was outrageous and I just want to go.”

So Kit began to explain how SHE was JUST TRYING to explain that you can check in on-line and if you want a certain stylist you need to say so right away.

I said, “No, that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about YOU talking about this client in front of her and the rest of us.  There is no excuse for being rude and unprofessional.  It has nothing to do with the computer system or the way people check in.”

Of course she had an immediate epiphany – NOT.

She continued to try to explain to me how the line was long and how the system worked.

So I leaned down on the counter, clasped my hands together and calmly tried AGAIN to explain that it was HER BEHAVIOR that was the issue.  There is never an excuse to talk about someone in front of them as if they were not there.  Nor is it ever okay to talk about a client in front of a room full of other clients.

At some point in the conversation Brenda stepped in to tell me about the other stylist who hadn’t shown up.  So now I was trying to explain professionalism to Brenda at the same time as I was explaining it to Kit.

I remained calm, and realized it was probably a waste of time.  I actually wanted the conversation to end, but I also was NOT going to accept their excuses.

Kit finally rang my card.  The mistreated client looked over at me and said, “Thank you.”

I replied, “You are welcome.  I certainly hope you are never going to come here again and never going to give them any of your money.”

At which point she tried to explain that she really was trying to leave and was just trying to pay Brenda for her time.

I gathered my children and left.

The client walked out after me and said, “Thank you,” again.

I said, “I know that was a waste of time.  There really is no point in trying to explain manners to someone who obviously was not taught them by her mother.  “

The client said, “Your children are lucky to have you.”

Then, from behind us another client appeared.  It was the elderly lady who had come back multiple times to wait for Kit.

She said, “I decided not to give them my money.  I will go somewhere else.”

I have no idea if a comment was made about me or the other client after we walked out, or if the elderly lady was just moved by my speech alone.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

I stood up for another person… in front of my kids… which SHOULD matter more to me than what Kit and Brenda think.

When we walked outside John Quinones of What W0uld Y0u D0? was NOT waiting for us… thankfully.  Because that guy really drives me nuts.