dear you…brought to you by United Airlines and my still "delayed" baggage

Be warned…this is a seriously long-winded rant.

Dear United Airlines,

I wrote you two emails about how much I hate you, and specifically your baggage handlers, but now I want the world to know (or the ten people who still check this blog) why.

When I packed for my fabulous trip to Europe (yes, it was fabulous…minus the part where I left my passport in a taxi on the way to the airport to fly from Berlin to Paris), I was sure to pack a change of clothes in my carry-on. This is something my mom taught me and on my last trip to Europe it proved helpful since my bags got left behind during a transfer. So, when I arrived in London and my bags didn’t, I wasn’t angry, just slightly frustrated. I mean, my flight from SLC to ORD was an hour late (oh, by the way, this hour delay was due to your baggage handlers in Salt Lake City taking their sweet time to load our baggage onto the plane…not weather or anything else…I actually sat on the plane at the gate for an entire hour) and I was lucky to make it, so I wasn’t really expecting my bag to have made it on the plane. I reported the bag as “delayed” (isn’t that a nice PC term for it) and was told that it would be on the next flight out (later that same day) and arrive the next morning.

Well, the morning came and went…and the evening…and I finally tried calling the number I had, only to find out the local desk closes at…wait for it…3:45 pm. Who the crap closes at 3:45 pm at an airport? So, I then proceeded to call the 800 number (a number which is not toll free from the UK). I went through all of the ridiculous automated crap I had to go through in order to talk to a human and was told I was being transferred only to have my call dropped. This happened FOUR times. Finally, I found a different number for United and called that, got a hold of a live person who then gave me a direct number. At that point (six phone calls later) I finally talked to someone who could give me any kind of information. This is now 36 hours later and my bags? Still in freaking Chicago!

This is when I started to lose it. At this point, I was leaving London in less than 24-hours, I had had to wash some clothes out in the hotel sink and hang them dry (shampoo has so many uses) and I was pissed off. I was assured that my bags would be at the hotel before I had to leave for the airport (5 pm the next day). I didn’t have much faith in you, but there wasn’t anything I could do at that point so I tried to just enjoy the rest of my time in London…wearing the same freaking hoodie I’d been wearing for three days.

When we got back to the hotel the next day to pick up our bags and head to airport, my bag was finally there. Finally! And it had only cost me $115 in international phone calls to find out what was going on and force someone to do something about my bag.

The rest of my trip included three flights on other airlines and not one of them managed to misplace my bag. Amazing, right?

After 12 glorious days in Europe, I was heading home on Friday. I packed my now two bags (I always pack a duffel bag so that I have plenty of room for the return when my luggage is full of gifts for my darling nieces and nephews) and headed to the airport. I was a little concerned about my connection in Chicago because it was only an hour and 20 minutes and I knew I was going to have to pick up my bags, clear customs, and recheck them. I was delighted to hear from our pilot that we would be arriving an hour ahead of schedule. There were no weather issues in Chicago. We arrived an hour early. I got my bags, cleared customs, rechecked them, and went to wait for my final flight home.

The flight from Chicago to Salt Lake was 30-minutes late. I knew that the baggage handlers were going to have to flip baggage quickly, but I assumed that my bags (having been checked over two hours before the flight) would be with everyone else’s and make it onto the plane. I was wrong.

I arrived in Salt Lake only to discover my bags were still in Chicago. Yeah, seriously. I filed yet another report and was told they were checked in for the earliest flight the next morning, would arrive in Salt Lake by midday and to my home by late afternoon. So, when 5:00 came and went I decided to check your crappy website (did I mention this website was not at all helpful when I was in London either?). No information to be had. Shocking.

I called the baggage help line, went through the whole process of talking to a machine again until I was finally transferred to a real person. Now, I’m not racist or culturally insensitive. I love to travel. I love languages. I love other cultures. However, you might want to consider hiring people who speak understandable English when they are answering phone calls from what are guaranteed to be frustrated and possibly angry customers. Yeah, the accent was not helping me in the slightest. Basically this person said that my bags were still in Salt Lake and she would call someone (I couldn’t understand whom) to find out what was going on and get the website updated…which finally happened at about midnight last night. This is also when I sent you my first angry email (an email in which I tried to be as understanding as possible, and in which I did not swear once).

My bags were listed for delivery between 12:30 and 4:30 am with a statement about the delivery service calling to schedule a convenient time. Yeah, well, said delivery service didn’t call until 4:40 am, at which point the guy was at the gate on my street unable to get in. Are you kidding me? 4:30 am. I am a person, not a freaking hotel. I have jet lag and I’m angry. But, whatever. So I walk to the front door and waited for the bags to be dropped off. No, I didn’t open it. I didn’t want to talk to this guy. I just wanted to get them once they were there. Well, get them I didn’t because there was only ONE FREAKING BAG! I quickly called the delivery guy back and he said, “Yeah, there was only one bag. I imagine when they find the other one, they’ll get that delivered.” When they find the other one??? What the…?

So another phone call to United (this one irate) after checking the website and seeing that, yes, both bags were still listed as being delivered between 12:30 am and 4:30 am. I finally talk to someone (another person I can barely understand) and am told that he will check it out and be sure the website gets updated. Time for another email. In this one, I was less than understanding.

I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m exhausted and totally jet-lagged. It’s not 11:17 am and, guess what, still no update on the website. Another phone call and, oh, my bag appears to be in Salt Lake, because it’s no longer listed as being Chicago (that’s some interesting logic) but the barely intelligible person can’t be sure (really, is it that hard to hire people who are understandable over the phone? I mean, they can still be non-native speakers, but an accent that isn’t so strong to be unintelligible would be nice) and then tells me that “sometimes the bag tags don’t get scanned properly or can get ripped off accidentally”. Great, just what I wanted to hear.

So he said he’d have someone go around and look for my bag in Salt Lake and update the website. No one can call me back (which I’ve asked for multiple times), but I can keep checking the website.

I am beyond pissed off now…yeah, when the guy thanked me for my “patience”, I cut him off and said, “really, there’s no need to thank me for my patience because I have lost all of it with your airline.” I then apologized and told him I realized it wasn’t his fault but that I pretty much never wanted to fly United again. At this point (four phone calls later on this end of my trip) he asked me if I wanted the phone number for complaints. Um, hell yes!

So, once I’ve calmed down a little I’m going to call and tell you just how frustrated I am. Basically, I want to be reimbursed for all of my phone calls (fat chance, you guys don’t even give money to people anymore to purchase a few essentials when you leave their baggage behind) and if I am every going to fly on your effing airline again, it will only be because you also gave me a round-trip ticket voucher.

Here are my parting thoughts. Your baggage handling process sucks. I mean, first you can’t get my freaking bags on the plane even though you have plenty of time, then you can’t get both my bags on the same plane forcing you guys to pay for two deliveries to my house which is an hour away from the Salt Lake airport. It’s no wonder with such a process that you guys have had to operate under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Also, what about empowering your freaking employees to call someone back? Or managing expectations? Or having a website that actually provides information? Oh, and your economy class has the worst leg room of any airline I have ever flown and it’s ridiculous to make people pay an additional amount for economy plus just for five more inches.

Basically, I seriously hope that I never have to fly United again. Not only that, but if I’m ever in a position of power at a corporation (which I fully plan on being) United will never be our airline of choice. While we’re at it, I’d like to also mention that with my three fly back interviews in the fall, not one of these Fortune 100 companies flew me out on United. Not one. Delta was their airline of choice (as it is mine when Southwest doesn’t make sense…yes, I would choose Southwest over you!).

So, hopefully I’ll get my bag today sometime (considering I start school tomorrow and three of my four pairs of jeans that fit me right now are in that bag along with my two most favorite pairs of boots and a hair product I really need) and then I’ll never have to deal with you people again! EVER!

With more frustration and anger than most people even think me capable,

Chloe

dear you…inspired by my first week back at school

Dear feet,

I know that I have treated you well over the years, ever since Shelley made us get that first pedicure when I was 14, but it’s over. I mean, I’m going to do my best, but I’m not nail tech. Don’t expect any great foot massages, or lavish soaks; the dead skin will get filed, and the toenails will get painted, but that’s all I can promise. I’m sorry to do this to you. Really and truly. You have no idea how painful it is to really not be able to afford a pedicure.

Love,

The girl who promises that, provided she gets a paid internship next summer, you will get at least one pedicure next year

Dear boys who don’t wear their wedding rings,

You really bug me. I mean, you belong to someone. Don’t you want people to know that. I’m sure your wives would like people to know that as your out and about having a grand ol’ time while they are at home, alone, raising your children.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not “checking you out”. Dating someone in the program would be a bad idea, but really, just where your ring. Seriously.

Sincerely,

The girl who hopes that, should she ever get married, her husband would always want to wear his ring

Dear iPhone,

You are my new best friend. You are amazing. All of the applications I’ve been able to download to make my life easier. My favorite of the week? The grocery list. Talk about being helpful in times of budgeting (okay, for someone who just learned what the word means). It was a little painful to realize how much some of my favorite things cost and that they aren’t in the budget right now, but playing with you took the sting off.

With much love and gratitude,

Chloe

Dear restaurants of Utah County,

I must bid you a fond farewell. I mean, I love you, really and truly, but the nasty b-word (budget) has informed me that you don’t get to be a part of my life for the next two years. This is a new thing for me. Neither me nor my sisters have figured out how to live without you, even though we can all cook.

Oh, and don’t be offended that you aren’t seeing Sarah, Candice, Emily, or Kelly either. I didn’t make them stop because I can’t go, they all just moved away and left me here by my lonesome. I promise to visit sometime (when my dad takes me out for my birthday).

With much sadness (but hope of being both less poor and less fat),

Chloe

Dear Igloo lunch box,

Thank you for being both cute and functional. While I don’t love that I will be making my own lunch these days, you are making it much less terrible. I’m excited to try you out tomorrow, even if I’m not so excited about eating a lunch that I made (it’s never as good as when someone else makes it).

Sincerely,

The girl who wants everyone to know that it’s my dad’s fault that I eat out so much, she swears

And on that note, it’s time for me to make my lunch so I’m all ready to go in the morning.

dear you…inspired by the olympics

Dear Francis Scott Key,

Thank you for writing the words that would eventually become our national anthem. As I’ve heard the music over and over during these Olympic games, I have realized just how much I love it. I don’t know many other countries’ national songs/anthems, but I don’t know that I would think any were nearly as inspirational or inspiring as ours. I am truly proud to be an American and feel blessed to live in a country with the heritage that ours has.

Sincerely,

Chloe

Dear Alain Bernard,

Don’t you know that trash talking before an event is the surest way to jinx it. I have to say that watching your French relay team lose was one of my favorite moments of the Olympic games thus far, second only to watching the American team win. I don’t feel bad for you at all. Maybe next time (should there be one) you’ll think before you make comments of the trash talk variety.

With much disappointment,

A girl who actually loves France and the French

Dear Bob Costas,

While I’m not a huge fan of Alain Bernard, I do believe that a commentator should at least attempt to pronounce the guy’s name correctly…especially when everyone around you is able to do it. It makes me insane. Seriously. They should fire you for that. It rhymes with “van” not “vain”. What the hell are they paying you for?

Sincerely,

A girl who wishes she could tell you to your face how annoying that is

Dear Michael Phelps,

You have been so fun to watch. Congratulations on all of your medals! You are seriously an inspiration.

Good luck in the rest of your races,

Chloe

Dear floor commentator for swimming,

I don’t even know your name, but you really bug me. I mean, the majority of commentators bug me (it’s the main reason I don’t like watching sports on TV…ever), but you have one the most annoying commentator award, hands down. You ask the dumbest questions. And then, when someone obviously doesn’t have anything to say on the topic, you just keeping drilling them with questions. A) This makes you look dumb. B) This is not political coverage, you aren’t trying to “get to the truth” or anything like that. This is sports. Get over yourself.

These poor swimmers generally are swimming in multiple events, the divers have to do multiple dives, and you just waste their time (and ours) by asking such lame questions. “So, what were you thinking about as you made that dive?” “I saw you doing that dive in warm ups. What do you think went wrong?” And the list goes on. I wish I could remember the exact exchange between you and Michael Phelps that bugged me so badly, but I can’t (I try an block annoying things out), but trust me, it was irritating.

Sincerely,

The girl who mutes the TV every time I see your face

Dear Dara Torres,

Wow! You are amazing. You are an inspiration to any woman who things that she is too old to live her dreams. So, most of us won’t be swimming in the Olympics as 41-year-old mothers, but if you can do that, I’m sure I can still be running marathons.

In complete awe,

Chloe

Dear Ryan Millar,

You and I went to the same church our freshman year of college. I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I remember going to volleyball games over in the Smith Field House and thinking I was “cool” because I “knew” you. Funny how I haven’t outgrown those dorky feelings. Good luck tonight again Bulgaria!

Sincerely,

A girl who feels like a dorky freshman all over again

Dear Chinese female gym coaches,

You’re not fooling anyone. That doesn’t change the fact that your girls are great gymnasts, but really, it’s too bad you can’t just play by the rules. And I know that Amanda Borden (who was very nice in person the one time I met her) said that people wouldn’t be focusing on this if our team had won the gold, but I don’t agree. No, our women didn’t deserve the gold with all of our errors, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are cheating and that you are teaching these young girls that lying and cheating is okay.

With sincere disappointment,

A girls that’s proud of our silver medal winning women

Dear Olympians,

You are amazing people. Yes, some of you may not have done your best in these Olympic games, but you made it. You are there living your dreams and inspiring others to live theirs. And really, watching you just makes me so grateful to have a body. It is amazing to watch what our bodies can do (maybe not mine, but someone’s). Thank you for being such great examples of dedication. It is seriously fabulous to watch.

Love,

Chloe

P.S. This does not apply to those of you who abuse your bodies with drugs or any other means. You guys make me kind of sick actually.

dear you…inspired by an 8th grade graduation

Dear J.,

I can’t believe my little buddy is fourteen and going to be in high school next year. I remember when you were born like it was yesterday. You were such a sweet little boy, and have managed to keep that same sweet disposition as you have gotten older. Yes, totally cliche and cheezy, but aunts get to be cliche and cheezy. I am so proud of what a cool kid you have turned out to be. And it was really fun to see you graduate tonight.

Congratulations on your math award, as well. Admittedly, A. and I were joking, as the teacher was talking about the award winning student, that the kid must be a total braniac who sets the curves in classes making other kids both angry and jealous. We were both so excited it was you. I love that you are such an awesome combination of personality and qualities; managing to be kind, cool, funny, and smart all at the same time. I wonder where you get that from???

Love,

Chloe (your super proud aunt who can’t wait to see what you end up doing in the future)

P.S. I hope you know I was joking when I asked you about your “nerd medal”. I think it’s totally rad.

Dear teacher who was chosen to speak,

Dude, you know when you started out with the whole, “everybody’s worried because I’m so long-winded” joke? Yeah, you should have just made it a warning. This was an 8th grade promotion (not even called graduation) and yet you seemed to have mistakenly thought that it was an evening dedicated to you with how much time you took. Or perhaps you thought you were speaking at a college commencement. Here’s the thing, you were speaking to 8th graders who were in there last moments of elementary (it’s a K-8) school. Seriously? Three stories? Each lasting 10 minutes? And then a summary before the final unifying conclusion? And all three stories were about you and your life?

Next time, use the student speakers as your example; two minutes max, with a funny quote. I’m sorry, but you were just not entertaining enough to take up thirty minutes of an 8th grade graduation.

Sincerely,

A girl who cannot believe that her nephew’s graduation lasted two hours

Dear parents of girls who were dressed like total skanks,

I’m really hoping that you didn’t know ahead of time what your daughters were going to be wearing because…WOW. But my guess is, not only did you know, but you also coughed up the cash (or credit) to pay for the itty-bitty pieces of fabric your daughters were passing off as dresses. Holy cow! I was uncomfortable for them.

Sincerely,

A girl who is terrified of having a teenage daughter

P.S. My sister-in-law told me some of the nicknames your daughters have been given. You might want to check that stuff out.

Dear Sri Lankan student speaker,

You were hilarious! I loved that you gave your whole speech with an accent when you don’t have one. So, so funny. Thanks for the comic relief after the long, long speech of Mr. I Can’t Remember His Last Name.

With lots of laughter,

Chloe

To whomever made the program schedule,

A few thoughts. First, an hour is about how long an 8th grade promotion should last. Second, referring to the first, give your speakers TIME LIMITS. Third, the walking part should really be done at the end. That’s when everyone is expecting it to end. The slide show was cute, but really, it could have happened before the walking. Or better still, in the cafeteria during the reception. And finally, seriously you need a little red light for when your speakers go over their time. Oh…and ixnay on the double introductions. Just let people introduce themselves or have someone introduce them, but don’t do both.

With complete knowledge of how obnoxious I can be with all of my thoughts and advice,

Chloe

dear you…brought to you by my frustration with being a glorified secretary for about six months too long

It’s official. Today is my last day as an office manager at P-town U. And hopefully my last day as an office manager ever, because I really would be devastated if I spent two years in an MBA program to be back answering phones. Moving on…in honor of this most blessed occasion, I am finally going to post a “Dear You” I wrote about a month ago…when I knew my last day was near, but still couldn’t see it.

Dear people who think you are being “friendly” by repeating my name back to me when I answer the phone,

I realize that it’s not your fault that you almost never hear my name correctly and say it back to me wrong; it’s not “Colleen” or “Carly” or “Kelly” or “Kari” or “Carrie” or, my personal favorite “Coley”, but for heaven’s sake, if you didn’t hear my name clearly (which obviously you didn’t), just don’t say it. It’s okay to just say hi, sans proper noun. Really.

And to the rare few who actually do understand what I’m saying, the answer is yes, it’s like Chloe on 24, or Chloe on Smallville. And no, I don’t watch either of those shows, but yes, I am aware that most people don’t like Chloe on 24 but some people do like Chloe on Smallville (even though I tend to think she’s a bit whiny and relatively annoying) and no, the fact that we all have the same name does not mean that we are similar, especially considering that two of the three of us are fictitious characters. Hello?

And to those of you who feel the need to tell me, over the phone, that your dog or rabbit or friend’s brother’s cousin’s wife’s little girl or, better still, that your unborn daughter is named Chloe, my curiosity is killing me. What can your purpose in telling me any of those things possibly be? There’s no value there. It’s just information. I mean, if you want to say something, I definitely do appreciate a simple, yet classic, “I love your name”. At least that has something positive going for it.

Sincerely,

A girl who loves her name, but doesn’t love how difficult it is to understand through the phone lines

Dear random strangers who think that you need to ask how I’m doing when I answer the phone,

You don’t. I mean, I suppose if you actually cared, that would be one thing, but most of you don’t actually care, so why the facade? I know that there are all of these social norms of “politesse” that dictate that it’s appropriate, and I’m not saying it isn’t, but really, why waste your breath? It’s not like I’m going to be honest (“actually, I’m having a really crappy day, and you?”) or that such niceties are necessary in order for me to help you. It’s my job to help you. I actually want to help you.

So in response to such a question, I will probably just say “fine”. And I will not be repeating the question back to you because a) you might want to be honest with me, but the nature of my office makes it so I don’t want you to be honest with me, b) when I have two lines on hold, and three people in front of me trying to check in or reschedule, I really, really don’t have time to chit-chat and c) while I care in the sense that you are a human being and I actually (despite what I say and what I write and how I come across) do like people, when I’m trying to help you, I need facts not feelings. It’s the people in my office that can help you with your feelings. I’m going to ask you what I can help you with and I am going to listen (I’ve been working really hard at listening) and then I’m going to do my best to get you what you want/need, but please don’t ask me how I’m doing. Please. It just wastes time for both of us.

Please don’t be offended and think it’s just you. As a general rule, I don’t like the “how are you” question from anyone unless it is totally sincere and I can be completely honest. Just tell me what you need and I will help you…I promise.

Sincerely,

A girl who really does care about people, but kind of hates insincere small talk

Dear people who want me to “take a message” for someone even though I offered to transfer you to that person’s voice mail,

Are you kidding me? I don’t get it. Are you still worried that voice mail will lose the message? Do you want someone to blame if the person doesn’t return your call? Is that it? You want to be able to soothe your ego by saying, “Oh, I bet that snooty girl (snooty because I didn’t offer to take a message) didn’t give her my message” instead of accepting the fact that the person you called just didn’t call you back. I mean, it’s not necessarily personal. Maybe she is just not good at returning calls. Do you realize how much time your “messages” take out of my day? I realize that you must think that just because I answer the phone, I must only be capable of that, but I actually have a lot to do and, guess what…I’m not going to “write” it down and hand deliver it. I’m going to type it into an email that the person may never look at either. So there!

With much frustration for your fear of technology and/or your need to have someone to blame,

Chloe

Dear people who call my office because it’s the only on-campus number you have,

I am not the operator and should you require the services of the operator, I am just going to transfer you to the operator, so maybe you should learn the operator’s number.

It’s not very hard. The last four digits are INFO.

Chloe

P.S. That’s not entirely true…I probably am going to help you get whomever you need on the line, it just bugs me when you so obviously don’t need my office or any office with which mine is affiliated.

Dear people who are calling to schedule a return appointment,

You know the routine. I’m going to try and find a time that works for you and I’m going to ask for your ID number. So why is it that so many of you never have your calendar nor your ID card at the ready?

Sincerely,

A girl who just doesn’t understand

Dear helicopter parents,

Did it ever occur to you that someday, in the very near future, you really are going to have to let your kids make their own decisions, even if they are really dumb decisions? Just curious.

Sincerely,

A girl who is extremely grateful that her mom trusted and loved her enough to let her make some really, really scary and difficult choices so that she would learn how to be a functioning adult (…I am functioning, despite what you all might be thinking)

To whom it may concern:

Despite all my frustrations, it’s not really about you (even if you are addressed in one of the above letters),

The thing is, I really do want to help you. I can only imagine what it must be like to worry about your child away at college for the first time. I do know what it’s like to be a student so overwhelmed by school that you don’t want to get out of bed. And I share the personal joy of a breakup so painful that the world could end and you wouldn’t care. I get it and I do want to help. It’s not really about any of you.

I’m just tired of answering phones. That’s all. I’ve been a glorified secretary (although, how much glory, I don’t know) for too long. And I probably like you, I just don’t like your behavior. Does that make sense? So please don’t think that I won’t help you or listen to you or care about you just because you call me Corey and ask me how I’m doing and forgot to get your calendar out and don’t have your ID card with you. I will help you. I may internally roll my eyes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Okay, I won’t roll my eyes (internally or otherwise) because it’s one of my very biggest pet-peeves ever, but I might be a little irritated. Just know it’s not you…it’s me. Really.

Sincerely,

A girl who does actually enjoy helping people and has had some very rewarding experiences during her tenure as the office manager, despite the fact that she sometimes really hates answering phones