An Actual Anecdote


Zen and the Art of Cramification

Zen and the Art of Cramification

I’d purchased a roundtrip ticket from SFO to JFK so I could watch my beloved Syracuse Orangemen (now known simply as the “Orange” owing to years of gender bias) take on the Penn State Nittany Lions at MetLife Stadium (known simply as “MetLife Stadium” owing to the millions they paid to name it). It was the opening game of the college football season and I was very excited to fire those neurons in the same area of the brain affected by cocaine. This is why football is so popular. It is a safe and legal drug – at least to watch anyway. Now, being 6’4″ and possessing a femur the length of a pool cue, I thought my airborne experience might be more comfortable if I upgraded to Economy Plus seating, where those few extra inches of leg room were stingily doled out like the gruel at a Dickensian orphanage.

As an air traffic controller it is considered unprofessional to criticize an airline, so I won’t divulge the name of the carrier I was flying on. I’ll only say it was an American airline. With all this baggage in tow and in the hope I could inexpensively purchase a little more leg room, I called this American airline and navigated their phone tree:

– No. I don’t know what my Titanium Plus Frequent Flyer number is.

– No. I’ve never been a member of the Communist Party – so far.

– Yes. This is for travel within the Earth’s gravitational field.

– No. I don’t mind if the call is recorded or monitored – but only for quality control purposes.

Finally after 2′ 37″ and at least 2 whole games of solitaire on my PC, a human voice came on the line and the following conversation ensued:

Virginia:  Hello. My name is Virginia. It is my pleasure to serve you today. How may I assist you?

Me:        Hi there team member. I’m David Hardiman. I’m traveling round trip SFO to JFK and I’d really like a little more leg room. Would it be possible to upgrade to Economy Plus? My flight numbers are American1352 leaving on the 6th and American789 returning on the 8th.  

Virginia: Thank you Mr. Hardiman. One moment while I pull up your itinerary. (I can sense her perusing the data) OK. I’ve got it here. Now did you want that for both legs?

Me:         I think so. The left and the right leg.

I knew the call was monitored because I heard at least 3 people break into hysterics.

Me:         Would it be cheaper if I got it for just the left leg?

I sobered up quickly when Virginia instructed me that despite my nuclear punchline, it would still cost about $140 to upgrade. I felt as if I was holding up my empty bowl to the headmaster and beseeching, “More sir,” only to have him sneer, “Nay, urchin.” So, as I jet to NY, I’ll sit in steerage with the rest of the livestock, tantalized by the knowledge that the free range femurs are just a few short rows away from my Ralph Kramden (crammed in) seats. Complain any way you want; it still beats the Oregon Trail.

~ Author shaking his head in disbelief and muttering under his breath: Do I want that for both legs? ~

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