Monday, August 15, 2011

Waiting for JetBlue

Was this the culprit?

Last night I trod in a dog turd. It was exactly outside the doorway of the apartment block, and I spent ten minutes hopping up and down on my other foot, hopping mad as I tried to clean the muck off.

Because our friends have a dog and we were taking it for a walk, they had plenty of wet wipes to help out, but a passerby would probably have thought we were just a bunch of idiots. Who would get their dog to take a dump outside their own apartment, and then step in it?

We were staying just down the street in a friend's apartment while they're away for the weekend, but although we'd moved out of the hotel, we'd been followed. At three in the morning I was awoken by the sound of somebody dropping a bowling ball on the floor above us. Will this ever end?

Actually, I'm hoping that there are no nocturnal bowling ball incidents in Seattle. There never have been before when I've been out there. Perhaps it's just an East Coast thing. It never happened in Nova Scotia, but Canadians are more considerate of others and probably only drop their bowling balls on cushions, whereas those thoughtless and selfish New Yorkers are happily making as much noise as they can, while spitting gum on sidewalks and running the wrong way on bike paths. In Seattle, everyone is too busy eating granola and wearing sleeveless fleece jackets.

Stepping in dogshit didn't put me in the best of moods, and nor did the early start to get to JFK this morning. Thankfully it was easy to get a taxi (whereas in Hong Kong they all appear to dissolve as soon as it starts raining) so I got to the airport with plenty of time for my 1025 boarding time at gate 16.

It was about 1030, at gate 16, that I began to wonder why nobody was boarding a plane for Seattle, or why no announcement had been made, so I wandered down to the departure boards, to find the flight was leaving an hour late from gate 9. And then it was delayed another hour, without any announcement from anyone. And then delayed another half hour. Without any announcement. And then it vanished from the departure board, without any announcement, and was replaced by a flight to Boston.

Perhaps there was something shameful about flying to Seattle. Maybe Jetblue really didn't want to bring it up; it's an embarassing thing, like body odour or being caught embezzling money from a cancer charity, that you just don't talk about. They saved their employees any embarassment by making sure none of them were staffing the information desk next to the gate, so we were left in blissful ignorance. Had the flight been replaced? Delayed? Should we fly to Boston instead? I mean, it was raining in Massachusetts and it was pisspoor in New York too, but Washington state gets some filthy downpours too.

I milled around a bit more. Nobody seemed to be complaining much, as if this happened all the time and they were used to it. Trouble is, I'm Eurotrash; you delay a flight by more than a couple of hours and you have to start doling out meal vouchers, not just all go and hide and hope people forget they have a flight to catch. Perhaps I should write a grumpy letter to Jetblue, pointing out that stepping in canine ordure was not the low point of these 24 hours, in comparison with being sat in JFK with no clues about what was going on.

Eventually, and again, without any announcement, they boarded us onto the plane. Why such surreptitious behaviour? Perhaps they figure out Americans have such short attention spans that if you don't remind them they've been standing around for three hours, they'll forget all about it. There was a rumour that the pilot couldn't get to work because it was raining, but I'd been transported in an aquaplaning taxi by a rather less qualified transport operative than his august self, so that cuts no ice with me.

In Korea, they have customer service reps that stand at the counter and get yelled at for half an hour, and nothing happens, which strikes me as at least more cathartic than having nobody to yell at while nothing happens. Still, not to worry, as compensation we all got free meals and films to watch - oh, no, we didn't, did we, because this is a place that enjoys bilking you at every opportunity, but never once thinks to put things like this right by compensating the customer.

We did get free crisps on the flight, but that's standard operating procedure on every Jetblue flight, so I'm not overjoyed. I suppose it's better than if I'd flown American or Delta via somewhere ridiculous, but hell. Perhaps those legacy airlines have somebody who's capable of talking into the microphone of a PA system.

More positively, the staff are all cheery and there's a lot of legroom, and since it takes a frankly ridiculous 6 hours to fly from New York to Seattle (three hours less than Heathrow to Seattle, but that must be because BA pilots know how to press the loud pedal harder on their planes) it's nice to be able to stretch out a bit. And I do have my magical headphones to switch the word around me off.


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