Saturday, April 15, 2006

What Would Louis Do?

I am continually underwhelmed by airport service in America.

In my haste at the Louis Armstrong International Airport this morning - and let me just say how reassuring it is to live in a city that names its airport after Louis rather than the Gipper - I managed to lock my keys, purse, cell phone and cat in the car. With little over an hour to go before my scheduled takeoff to JFK.

After congratulating myself on the above schmuckery, I went over to the Courtesy Phone and mulled my options - "fire," no; "emergency?" hmm potential pet suffocation- yes.

"Hi. I've just locked my keys, cat, purse and cell phone in my car - I'm in the short-term parking lot - and was hoping the airport police could come out and help me."

Something mumbled and


Take two.

"Excuse me - first, someone just hung up on me."

"I didn't hang up on you - I was getting you off the emergency line," the same now-hostile operator snaps.

American Air Travel Tip: Do not assert yourself - in disbelief in this particular case; as an air traveler, you have no rights.

Contrary to the Courtesy label and flying in the face of the wide array of security agents, devices, cops, experts and officials at any international American airport, the only way to pry open an ajar car door for a paying customer with a defenseless creature trapped inside, even an infant because I asked if these rules extended to babies, too, is to tell them to call Pop-a-Lock, which can cost upward of $100.

"You're telling me I could have a child locked inside and the airport police wouldn't come help me?"

"We can't do anything for that situation."

The next step in the Courtesy Procedure is to stonewall the caller to the point where their only recourse is to say "Well, thank you; I'm glad you've gone out of your way to be unhelpful" and hang up, annoyed that she now has to write yet another series of letters and then, in the more immediate future, that she cannot, in fact, dial out for help on a Courtesy Phone. Meanwhile, the Courtesy Provider's thoughts run more along the lines of, "Maybe the person needing help will just, you know, go away."

Hey, works for FEMA.
Must be in the federal handbook: if someone needs something, let the line go dead, deny it later.

Despite the reality that it requires more energy to give someone in tears by now a hard time, well, it's just, like, so inconvenient to extend assistance, let alone - ugh - compassion.

I ended up having to wait for Triple A to arrive at a facility rife with cops, "security" initiatives, officials, and procedures because:

Searching and patting you down to the point of molestation?

Slim jim?


Blogger John Doheny said...

I too love the fact that the airport is named after Louis Armstrong, a man who (and this is EXTREMELY well documented) smoked at least one giant reefer every day of his adult life.

2:03 PM  

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