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Is this you? Complaint department

Trina Machacek

For a short time in my business career I was lucky enough to have a small travel agency. It was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot of the ins and outs of traveling. When to buy airline ticket, and, more importantly, when not to buy airline tickets. You would be absolutely amazed if you stood up in a crowded airplane and ask if anyone else got their tickets for the same price you did. On an airliner that carries say 200 people I would hazard a guess there would be 190 different fares charged for the exact same flight. Those last 10 are on a trip together and they bought their tickets as a group all at the same time! But that’s the way the system is set up. A little weird, but a true piece of information for you to put under your hat to discuss on a rainy day.

Then at the turn of the century the internet exploded with travel sights, the airlines stopped paying commissions and that was the end of my short travel agent career. But more than learning about how and when and where to travel I learned a life lesson that has helped me keep my sanity more than once. I know, you thought I lost my marbles long ago. But if you were to check in the inside pocket of my purse you will find one solitary blue marble I’ve kept for years, just in case I lose all the other ones rolling around in my head. But that’s neither here nor there.

How about another life lesson? Wait, wait. First let me tell you, at this point in my life, what my dream job would be. I would like to work for a big, no, a huge airline as a customer service rep. There was a television show about a group of airline customers service individuals who dealt with many different situations. I found it amusing and entertaining. It would be an experience I would relish. Especially since I wouldn’t be footing the bill for the outcome of those situations. With that in mind, here comes that life lesson.

Learn to bite your tongue before you say something like, “How was your trip?” Know when not to say, “How are you feeling?” Suck in your breath before, “Did you ever get that new job you applied for?” comes out of your mouth.

Now I know this sounds callous. Unfeeling. Maybe ever a little bit heartless. But in my short time here on Mother Earth I have found there are those walking among us who live to tell only those stories of tragedy and mayhem. They’re just poised and ready for you to ask, “How’s it going?” The polite answer is maybe, fine, or, it could be better, or maybe on an off day, so-so. But run into one or two in your life who will tell you the toe next to the big toe on their right foot has an extra hair growing out of it and it’s green? Well, that is when you learn to just say, “Hi, nice to see you,” and leave the rest of any question on the inside of your lips!

Once I asked a traveler how the trip went. Once! Apparently it was my fault it rained, the food was bad, a T-shirt cost more than $20, drinks were watered down, airlines were making seats smaller, rental cars actually charged you more if you didn’t fill up with gas before you returned them … Well, you get the idea. There was just no way I was going to save face. So I just nodded my bobbled head and listened and I never again asked how the trip was. I just said, “Nice to see you back.”

So about that dream job? Imagine, if you will, getting off an airplane after sitting for four hours and 27 minutes in a cramped seat where the overhead air thingy didn’t put out enough overhead air, you were next to a lady who brought her own egg salad sandwich, you bump your head on the overhead compartment while trying to get from row 57 seat G out to the aisle, the guy who sat in front of you had cabbage soup the day before and you were his down-winder, you stub your toe on the emergency exit lighting along the floor, your luggage was the last piece down the shoot at the carousel. None of these things can be the fault of the airline. Not the egg salad lady, not the head bump, not cabbage man, and some piece of luggage has to be that last piece.

But then you notice there’s a new scratch on your 16-year-old faux leather medium size suitcase. Oh, someone has to pay! So you tramp up to the customer service desk and run into — me! After hearing all of those words come spilling out of your mouth, I oh-so-sympathetically pat your hand that has clenched the counter so intensely it’s white as snow and I soothingly say, “Tough nuggies!”

Ya, I’d hire me.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share with her at itybytrina@yahoo.com.