Why I hate to tavel these days -Reason number 43

cakein the airIt used to be fun to travel.  I remember people used to dress up to travel. (They apparently used to serve CAKE !)

NOW you have to wear shoes that slip off easily–  and no you can’t walk through security with flip flops (lord knows what you could hide in your flip flops).  And then there’s things to consider like belts and sweaters and jackets and such.   And really, call me a conspiracy theorist, but I DON’T believe its about security, I think it’s about control…  but that’s fodder for another post.

Complaint number 43 is the baggage fee. I used to be one of those people who never checked baggage.  If I couldn’t carry it with me, it wouldn’t go…   I prided myself on my ability to pack efficiently, and wear everything I brought with.  Now what’s the point.  With all the restrictions on what can be brought aboard, it’s become a pain in the neck to carry-on.  I mean, what’s a person to do when they can’t bring their meat cleaver aboard?**

Here’s what I recently wrote to US Airways regarding the baggage fee that I had to pay on my recent trip to Hawaii:

First of all let me say that the $20-25 bag check fee is ludicrous. It is, however, a nice way to make your customers feel like you are nickel and dime-ing them to death…. where it would be better in my opinion, to just charge an extra $20 on the ticket.

swrocksWhat with all the restrictions on what you can and cannot carry on board,  it is damn near impossible to fly without checking luggage, so why not just fold that cost into the price of the ticket?

On 12/19 I checked in ONLINE and paid for my bags… I opted to pay for my bags coming and going to save $10 and did it all at the same time so I would not forget… UNFORTUNATELY I did  not realize that with a flight that has a connection / code share arrangement with, say HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, that I would have to pay Hawaiian Airlines when I checked in for my return flight. Apparently codeshare does not mean “bag fee share.” That should be made more clear.

And so, to fly my bags with me, I was in essence charged twice for my return flight.

In the future, trust I will fly Southwest where ever possible…

To USAirways credit, they did reply:

Thank you for contacting US Airways regarding our baggage charges. We regret your displeasure and appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

Given the issues our industry continues to face in these volatile economic times, all airlines must look at ways to offset our increased operating costs. We continue to center our attention on providing the products and service based on value and our customers’ preferences. Our baggage policy allows customers who need to check baggage the option to do so for a nominal service fee, while allowing the core price of tickets to remain competitive.

A request for a refund has been submitted to our Refund Department on your behalf.

BLA BLA BLA BLA…

I still, however, contend this is NOT good customer service.

311-web-ban

**strange that “meat cleaver” is listed as the fourth item on the list of prohibited sharp objects …  who  carries a meat cleaver?

My first official foray into fiction

I have been quite remiss in updating this blog, but rest assured it is NOT because I’m not writing (though truth be told I could be writing more).

Last semester I took a Fiction workshop.  And I grumbled and groused the whole way through.  I found writing fiction to be difficult, overwhelming, kind of like shopping in a big box store:  shelves filled with product, no one to help you reach the stuff way up high, too many choices.  With creative non-fiction you’re limited by “the truth” (however you define that).

GdadThe first story I submitted to workshop was not completely embarrassing. I had one character (very loosely based on a friend’s ex-husband) who was obsessed with Thomas Kinkaide paintings and villages.  An interesting character, but I never could figure out how to create an authentic confrontation and make something happen in the story…
The next story I tried to write was strongly based in setting, a place I love dearly, Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego County.  Specifically a part that a friend and I used to call The Hill of Truth–  the mile walk from the far end of the parking lot to the top, 3/4 of it up hill.

An excerpt:

About half way up The Hill is a small landing with a big torrey pine leaning out as if to catch a glimpse of the landscape below. This is my rest spot, my tree.  I don’t really need a break– I’d been hiking The Hill at a more leisurely pace– but I stop anyway.  From here, the coast highway swirls into the village of Del Mar along the beach, and if I’m lucky I’ll see a train roll through, skimming the top of the lagoon before ducking under the highway to hug the cliff heading north.

….

This road is narrow, and cuts into the hill revealing the earth’s strata and geological upheavals. As I take the next switchback, I see a history displayed in rich warm colors, layers of eons, some nearly vertical, some displaced by tectonic shifts and earthquakes.

….

The earth still shifts here, chunks of cliff falling with some frequency. And some days if I am paying attention, I see new pieces on the side of the road, new bits of history on display….

But every scene I wrote started to sound like a bad YA novel: betrayal, boys and bad dialog. I didn’t turn it in.

Morning CoffeeAnd then I heard a story about a woman that wouldn’t stop crying.  And so I wrote what I called “Morning Coffee,”  (I wanted to call it “Mourning Coffee” but restrained myself).

Dan Mueller insisted should be called “Our House is Like Switzerland.”

Dan had also said that my story reminded him of Bartleby the Schrivner by Herman Mellville, a story that I had never read.

The final requirement for the class was to revise a piece to completion, and submit it somewhere.  And so, when I found this literary journal, Bartleby Snopes, named after two famous literary characters one of whom was Barleby the Schrivner, I thought is was fate. Or something.  I was compelled to submit my story there.

And it was accepted!

Now the fun part…  some things you may recognize:  my green coat, my cousin Katie’s blue hair, and big ole orange tom cat who liked to be vacuumed, my two cats…   the rest is fiction.

Looking back, and of course with the success of publication under my belt and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with that, I think maybe fiction can be fun.  Like collaging, you can take a little bit from here, a little bit from there and paste it all together and create something.

This semester I’m back in the world of cnf, but taking a class about the novel.  One of the requirements for that class is to plan our novel, so who knows!