Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed in, tracking packages and being upset about it solves nothing.

We have been looking forward to taking our holiday vacation to Colorado to visit both my wife's family and my family.  With Angie pregnant, it's important to us that they are involved and this year will be the first year we will be with our entire family, both sides.

However...

The airlines had other ideas.  AirTran, the airline with hands down the worst customer service phone system in the world, decided to preemptively cancel all fights leaving Sunday, December 20 and Monday, December 21.  Our flight was canceled on Saturday the 19th.  We, fortunately, booked through Orbitz.  They informed us.  AirTran did not.  

(BTW, ORBITZ IS AWESOME!  They tried to help us right away, looking for alternate flights, but AirTran locked them out of their system, making them unable to look at flights or access refund information...  Big ups to Ahmed at Orbitz... the only superstar in this entire story.)

Back to our tale.  We sprang to action.  We immediately started calling AirTran.

AirTran's phone system is set to run you around several automated prompts and then they hang up.

I know this because that is what I dealt with for almost two hours, redialing over and over.

My wife was doing the same.

When we finally did reach someone he told us the only option we had was to reschedule the flight.  When prompted, he admitted that he could give us a refund.  We considered paying for a flight with another airline, but it did not guarantee we'd leave Sunday.

My wife and I come from a snow culture.  I hope one day my son will be able to live out there, to experience it.  Utah has the most beautiful snow and you can smell a big storm.  We didn't smell a big storm.  We knew flights would go out and this would be considered a huge fizzle.

We rescheduled for Tuesday, since AirTran decided to cancel, not only Sunday's flights, but Monday's flights as well.

The next morning, when our flight was supposed to be taking off... there were flights taking off.

Of course there were!  Our sidewalks were clear (our super had shoveled them earlier) and the streets were dry.  There were piles of snow from snow plows and there was about 6 inches of fluffy snow on the cars.

Flights were leaving both Laguardia Airport and JFK.

We began calling AirTran again, to see if we could get out Monday.

Again, with two phones calling, it took us two hours each to finally be put on hold.  Two hours of a phone system designed to simply hang up on you.

DO NOT FLY AIRTRAN.  That's my advice, in case you didn't catch it.

I was the first one on hold.  My wife was put on hold about five minutes later.

Her call was picked up first.  So much for "in the order of your call."

When we finally got a human being, after two and a half hours, that human being said, "You should have called earlier."  (It was 11 in the morning.  We'd started calling at 8:30 a.m.)

She said it was our fault for not getting an earlier flight when we called the day before...  when the earlier flights were all canceled.

I know... the logic is dizzying.

We explained that we had a Tuesday flight already but were looking to depart on Monday.  She said she could get us on a flight...  Wednesday.

Why in the hell would we want a Wednesday flight if we already have a flight Tuesday?  Either this woman is a complete moron or she's just being a bitch.  We figured it was the latter.

This seems to be a trend.  The corporation can tell the individual to "get bent."   Their employees have been empowered, not to help you, not to solve your issue, but to tell say, "screw you, what are you gonna do about it?" 

We have no recourse but to blog about it, write a letter that will get read and then tossed in the trash.  We are essentially powerless.

Need another example?  I had a package sent to me via UPS.  It was my wife's Christmas present.  I tracked that thing for days.  Suddenly the tracking site says it was delivered.

I did not receive it.

I live on the first floor.  Right next to the door.  I can hear him put his finger on the buzzer, which is not quiet...

I did not get a buzz, I did not have a package, here was no package left for me, there was no note or delivery notice from UPS.  Nothing.

Online, there was a notation that the package was left at the side door.

I don't have a side door.  I live in an apartment building.  We are connected to twenty other buildings.  A side door would be the front door of the bodega down the street.

And I was home!  Why wouldn't you just buzz me or knock?

I asked the neighbors next door... no one had dropped anything off.

I called UPS.

Their answer?

"Sorry.  We did our job.  We delivered it."

Yes....  TO THE WRONG PLACE!

I was told I had to call the company from which I ordered the item.  They would contact UPS to do a trace, then they would start an investigation which could take months.

Why not just ask the driver?  That would be far too simple and UPS really doesn't care.  As long as the package get's delivered... somewhere.

So, I went through the trouble of contacting the store, putting a trace on the package, reordering the item so they could send me a new one, getting a refund on the first one - it was a pain.

An hour later, a neighbor from upstairs on the second floor came down...  with my package.

On the front it had our address and the apartment number:  1L.  Written underneath - "delivered to 2R."

Why?  Who knows.  He never even came to 1L.  Why not put a note that says, "left at 2r"?  Because he doesn't have to.  He could have tossed it at the building as he drove by and that'd be okay.  Why?

He's backed by a corporation.  As long as he delivers it, the rest is not his problem.

In the eighties, The Supreme Court gave corporations the right of person-hood.  A corporation has the same civil rights as a person.  I don't agree with it, it's been the subject of much debate and pointed to as the cause for many problems, but what are you gonna do?  It's like fighting a giant... and you're a gnat.

So, AirTran or UPS, or any corporation for that matter, was granted the rights of a person...  But I don't think that necessarily gives them the right to act like assholes. That's always been the sole consolation for our lack of real power... We could always have our righteous indignation, we could be very nice and then, be upset because, doggone it, we still matter!  It was our only way of standing up to the man.  a single finger raised high (you choose the finger) and a string of words strung together colorfully.  This "person," still in its infancy, would apologize, help you reschedule your flight and give you vouchers for a flight anywhere.  This "person" would say, "We're so sorry, Mr. VanDijk, let's find that package for you."  That's what I would do.  That's how I was raised. 

This "person" has grown up and now knows that we individuals have no real power against the rising tide of corporate indifference.

Heaven help us all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We are NOT those parents... I swear.

We are NOT those parents who are applying to schools before our child is born.

We are NOT.

We are NOT those parents who are pushing our child to read by four months, to speak four languages by three. We are NOT.

We are NOT those parents who have already enrolled this unborn child in basketball camp. Or baseball camp. Or soccer camp.  Or football camp.

We DID buy a babyplus system... We want him to self soothe, be active and alert at an early age... the fact that children who are exposed to the babyplus curriculum do read earlier and develop language skills early have nothing to do with it...  swear.   (the fact that a five month old fetus is on a curriculum is NOT strange.  Seriously.  Because we are NOT those parents.)

We ARE playing him a mix of Mozart, Beethoven (Ludwig Van!!!!), The Beatles, Miles Davis, Celtic Music, Django Reinhardt, Indonesian traditional music, and flamenco guitar...  We have our bases covered.  I really wanted to put together some Led Zepplin and Van Halen... but I was vetoed.  Because we are definitely NOT those parents.

We've put this music together and purchased huge headphones to place on Angie's belly, not because of the benefits of music to a fetus' brain development but because we'd like to bond with the baby... I mean, it's something we do... sit around and listen to Beethoven and traditional Indonesian music... it's part of my Dutch-Indonesian heritage...

Seriously.

We are NOT those parents.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stay at home dads

I've been reading a lot about being an expectant dad and there's lots of information out there about what to do once your baby is born.  Much of it is from the woman's perspective - what to do as a new mom.  For stay at home dads it's sort of been - "Do the same... only without the breast feeding."

Stay at home dads come from all walks of life. Many worked corporate jobs, I've known some who were grad students, professors, recently unemployed, artists... I'd fall into the latter category. I was not downsized. We do not have a traditional two income household and my wife definitely makes more money that I do.

I'm an actor.

My writing partner will tell you I'm a writer. I am. It's becoming more and more what I do. But that's mostly because of a stubborn persistence in making my own work. I have recently made the decision that I am finished with the bullshit involved in acting in New York. I do not kiss enough ass, nor, apparently, do I kiss the right asses.   I am finished with dealing with the gatekeepers to this work, to which I have dedicated my life, who treat actors like they are stupid.  Those rare champions of actors (you know who you are) have made working in this town a joy.  But I am finished with getting my hopes up during final call backs to have a movie actor walk in and take a job. I am finished with pleading with self important pricks half my age, attempting to prove to them that I am worthy of their representation. My time and my talent are far to important. I will do it, stubbornly, on my own.  (I said I was done with the bullshit, not with acting.)

Because I'm an actor.  Persistence defines who we are. 

My wife and I had this exact conversation - the one many artist have when they bemoan their career choice and wish they had gone into finance or some soul-less yet lucrative career or that I hadn't taken her up on her offer to drop out and join the peace corps before starting a family.  Something meaningful.

My wife said, "You're going to be raising a child.  What could be more meaningful?"

In the end, you can't take any of this with you.  None of it.  The paycheck, the swimming pool, the big house.  In the end what you leave behind are the lessons you share - the things you teach your children and the people they become.

Actor...  Writer...   The occupation I'll be most proud of is Dad.

Here's where I give a shameless plug to a friend's book.  A fellow stay at home dad.

Joe Schatz from Dad Blogs has a new book out.  It's not a how-to.  There are plenty of those.  This one is nine years of "things I've learned as a stay at home dad."  I'll be reading it.  The title alone is worth the price of the book.

Go support one of my fellow stay at home dads.


Daddy, where's your vagina?

Friday, December 11, 2009

post often...

I've been breaking the first rule of blogging:  post often.

If my life were that interesting, trust me, I would post every day. 

It's not.

I did learn a new rule today.  Don't ever ask a pregnant woman if she's sure she isn't having twins.  If she were, she'd tell you.  This question came from a woman who probably thought she was being cute.  She wasn't.

I'm married to a woman who has gone from a size 4 to a 2 to a zero.  (much of this has to do with the new sizing system in America... It's more about making a woman who is a size 12 feel better about herself by saying she's really an 8 - not about my wife shrinking). 

That said, my wife is just small.  She's petite. 

And she works out.  She's on the ball every morning, doing her yoga, slinging my kettlebell around, trying out my TRX... I see her.  She's in great shape.  From behind, you wouldn't know she's five months pregnant. 

She is. 

Pregnancy is traumatic.  Your body goes from this fit machine to suddenly looking like you've swallowed a pumpkin... whole.   Everyone is staring at you.  She feels self conscious.  She's fragile.  There is a tiny creature inside her that wakes her in the middle of the night, moves around when she least expect it.  It's a strange thing. 

It's beautiful.

So don't make stupid comments that you find cute.  They aren't.  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tiger, Tiger burning bright, driving your car into a tree at night.

(This is part of the Dad-Bloggers project)

9 Irons, and Tigers and car wrecks - Oh, my. 

Through out this entire epic saga I have been asking myself the same question:  "Whose business is it, anyway?"  I would hate my personal life to be played out in front of the world. 

I'm sure there are many of you who say, "He's a public figure and therefore..."

No.  His job is one which involves us as spectators.  He is paid a great deal for doing his job in front of a very critical/adoring public.  When he goes home, he goes home.  It should be the same for all of us.  We don't follow a clerk home from the store, our dentist, our priest... 

There are women in bikini's now standing on the road with signs for Tiger.  "Tiger!  I'll be your mistress!"  What do these bimbo's want?  For him to pull over for a quickie? 

He still has a family and whatever decisions lead to him cheating are known only to him.  What they do now is also known only the he and his wife.  As a husband and a father to be, I would hate the kind of scrutiny they are getting. 

None of us are perfect, though some scream and pontificate as if they are.  This scenario would never play itself out on the evening news for a ninety-nine percent of us.  Let's give them the same opportunity.

It's time we stopped goose-necking and left them alone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Odd Wifely behavior.

My wife hums when she's asleep. 

This is new but it does not seem to be cause for alarm.  She just hums.  It's never really a song I recognize.  She hums a little tune to herself and the baby. 

She's been having such a difficult time sleeping so rather than wake her I just let her do it.  She's always been able to sleep through anything.  Not this.  This is an entirely new thing. 

I have passed my insomnia on to her. 

However, when she does sleep... she hums.