It's not about the house.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

May the Hearthstone of Hell Be Your Best Bed Forever

Dear Aer Lingus,

I think you’re swell. Really, I do. The way you have a monopoly on travel to your country, and in your pride you spell your name all Irish-like. As if “Lingus” didn’t sound like it might be some medi-clinical word for “tongue” – or else a slang word for some unthinkable body part down at the other end of the digestive system. (Although, it being Irish and everything, “Lingus” is probably pronounced something more like “Shropsky” and probably means something along the lines of “piss” or “beer” or “two deodorants.”)

But no, really, I kid because I love. Your name is swell.

So is the rest of you. Those uniforms your stewardesses wear that put one so pleasantly in mind of moldy cheese, and the way you put a shamrock on your planes (which, conversely enough, is not cheesy at all). I like how you leave the orange from the Irish flag out of your color scheme, as well, substituting a slightly lighter fungal shade for it instead. Because you wouldn’t want to remind anyone of your country’s actual history or anything, when you could be calling up images of Darby O’Gill. You know which side of a slice of soda bread the tourist simoleons will stick to, that’s for sure.

And I applaud that.

But what I really wanted to tell you in this letter is how much I appreciate your customer service. I mean, I can’t begin to express how nice it was, when I called last Saturday to inquire about booking my husband’s passage over for his brother’s funeral, to be put on hold for twenty minutes by a machine before getting to speak to a real person. Although the recorded voice asking “Are you still there?” every five minutes was a nice touch. It actually had me answering out loud and feeling like a chump the first few times I heard it – which, in other circumstances, might have had me laughing out loud. I’m sure that was your intent. You bunch of wacky leprechauns.

Getting back to this circumstance, however...

I was thrilled to find out that the person I finally did get on the line (a recent immigrant to the Emerald Isle from the subcontinent, if her accent is any indication), could tell me the industry term for the “my-husband’s-brother-died-unexpectedly-and-he-needs-to-fly-immediately-discount” that I was looking for. “Bereavement rate,” of course. And she sounded sincerely sorry when she told me you didn’t offer any such thing, anymore.

Also, I completely understand, now, the a difference between “booking” and “confirming.” I’m a writer. I really ought to learn to use my words. It was absurd for us to assume that just because he booked and selected his seat within 24 hours of his actual flying time, he would have been automatically confirmed. But you’re right. Calling to substantiate is not the same as purchasing at all. Whoops


And it’s not your fault he was in mortal pain for five hours because of it. After all, I didn’t tell you that he had four broken ribs. His doctor said he was okay to fly and everything, but he didn’t have a note, and I was afraid you wouldn’t allow him up there if you knew. So we kept that bit of information to ourselves. Still and all, it would have been nice if he could have had the window seat he thought he booked, the one that did not include a neighbor’s elbow poking his ribcage through his liver every time he turned around. (It is a bit odd, though, even you have to admit, that your counter-staff person was flummoxed by my request for an aisle seat “with his right hand on the aisle.” But I always have pen and paper in my bag, so I drew that diagram for her with no trouble at all.)

I should have known better – on the day of his return – than to try to telephone my inquiry about the status of his flight. You are very busy. I understand. But, despite your regular, automated requests for me to hang up and go online to get my answers, I was just too simple-minded to figure your website out. All I wanted was to make sure, before I left for work, that his flight had gotten off the ground okay – and your convenient “Scheduled” and “Actual” side-by-side comparison was pretty neat – but as far as I could tell the “Actual” had him landing in Boston five hours earlier than he left Irish soil.

In retrospect, with that kind of in-flight service going, I should have fully expected to spend 45 minutes on hold. But it still came as a bit of a shock when I was disconnected. I mean, the endless, pseudo-“Feelin’-Groovy” tape loop you were playing was annoying, sure, but that didn’t mean I wanted it to end. You must have somehow just known, though, that it was time for me to hang up and go to work.

Considerate of you, as well, to disconnect me after twenty minutes on hold on my cell phone in transit. I know, you didn’t want me to get a person on the line just as my train entered a tunnel. You have no way of knowing they wired those tunnels last year for just these sorts of things. Generally, I find it annoying and unnecessary, but I was really kind of counting on it just this once. Oh well.

And I probably shouldn’t have used My Lady’s phone for hours like I did. I figured – since it was an 800 number I was calling and she wasn’t home – it didn’t matter. I was just trying to save my cell phone battery in case Johnny tried to call. But you’re right. I should have asked permission first. Thank you for repeatedly disconnecting me after I’d been on her phone for too long. What if, while I was doo-de-doo-ing along to your hold music, somebody had been trying to get through?

I can’t believe it took me four hours to figure out The Secret, either, (which I apologize profusely for disclosing here) that if I just don’t hit any buttons at your automated start menu, it rings straight through to an operator. She was right, though. I should have thought to bring his reservation number to work with me if I wanted to be able to find anything out. Naturally, without it, I deserved another ten minutes on hold while she figured out where he had been re-booked. I don’t imagine they use computers or anything at Aer Lingus headquarters. She probably had to dig through piles of parchment scrolls.

Lastly, I apologize for hanging up on that other lady. After eight minutes on hold I got impatient, but I did not dare disconnect myself. So I called and tried The Secret on my cell phone while still holding My Lady’s line to my left ear. It worked again, and that other operator had every right to scold me when I requested that she not put me on hold. I’m sure she was, as she said, “working on it either way” – but after four hours I just couldn’t bear the thought of listening to that hold music in stereo. Still and all, when operator #1 came back on my left-ear line, I should not have just hung up on #2. For all I know, she is still working on it.

Either way, my point is this: it was some kind of customer-service miracle that you managed to get Johnny on an earlier flight. I don't know how you did it. When I ask him, he just keeps muttering about a transit strike. It is a shame I didn’t find it out till he was just about to land, but at least I could leave work early, didn’t get a speeding ticket on my way to East Boston, and managed to be at our regular rendezvous-spot at the airport bar, ten minutes before his adjusted arrival.

I’m sure it wasn’t your fault the plane was an hour late.

I'm sure we can chalk that up to your Lingus.

Thank you,
Erin Ellia

(on behalf of Johnny Conroy)
(who swears he’s never going back to that bleeding country, ever again)

(but we’ve all heard that before, now, have we not?)


Anonymous said...

Perhaps so that you don't have these issues again, you should buy a big boat. Then you could sail over next time. You wouldn't need to spend too much - buy a fixer upper, and do it up! You guys would LOVE that! ;)

Sashimi said...

oh yeah! The we can have a "The Boatandi" What fun!

Sashimi said...

Hope Johny's ribs not hurting him too much. :-( I begin to feel like I have known him all my life ;-)

su said...

You are sooooo Poppo

Sparkle Plenty said...


Anonymous said...


It was a Horrorshow. But, in his defence, Johnny was put apon by hideous relative such as myself all clamouring for Bean Bushes. He has My E-Mail if he has not lost it yet. Inside pocket of the suit. Unless he burnt the suit.

Jenni said...

Tell 'em EGE !

Is Johnny feeling better?

ege said...

12 -- Augh! No! If Destructo gets her hands on a boat, we're doomed!

Sashimi -- They're getting better, thanks. And yeah, a few months can sometimes feel like a lifetime around here! ;)

Su -- I know, I know.

Sparkle -- BLARK!!! is right!

MOOK!!! -- I'm saving you till last. In fact, everyone, tune in over the weekend for a whole special post in honor of Mook...

Jenni -- He is, thanks. Not well yet, exactly, but better. Not better enough to help me clean the yard this weekend (grr), but better. Baby steps.