That Doesn’t Fly With Me

| Chicago, IL, USA | Working | November 29, 2015

(I am waiting at O’Hare Airport for my flight. The airline in question was and is notorious for labor problems and cancelling flights for no good reason.)

Airline Employee: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but your flight has been cancelled.”

Me: “Oh, NO! Not again! Why was it cancelled this time?”

Airline Employee: “Because of the bad weather outside.”

Me: *looks outside, sees a beautiful clear blue sky* “The… weather?”

Airline Employee: *looks back at me calmly* “That’s right. Our pilots can’t fly in this. It’s not safe!”

Me: “…”

Anything Goes Except Everything

, | Vantaa, Finland | Right | October 20, 2015

(I work as a sales agent for an airline.)

Me: “[Airline], this is [My Name] speaking. How can I help you?”

Customer: “We’d like to go for a holiday somewhere.”

Me: “Okay, I can help you with that. What did you have in mind?”

Customer: “Oh, I don’t know. Something would be nice.”

Me: “Okay, would you prefer a city destination or rather a beach destination?”

Customer: “I don’t know. Anything goes.”

Me: “Okay, how long a trip you were thinking? A weekend trip or maybe a longer trip, a week perhaps?”

Customer: “Well, anything goes.”

Me: *getting a bit frustrated already, but still trying something to start with* “Okay, do you have in mind when you’d like go for the trip?”

Customer: “Not really. Anything goes.”

Me: *frustrated, but still very polite* “Okay, how about you go for a nice weekend to Stockholm next weekend?”

Customer: “Well, actually we had a bit longer trip in mind and to some bit warmer destination. With a beach. And it has to be in September because that’s when we have our vacation.”

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Twenty Year Punchline

| OK, USA | Friendly | October 7, 2015

(I do contract work for two guys who run a small company. One is a native Swede. The three of us are having a business lunch. The other partner says something about him being Swedish.)

Me: “Hey, [Swedish Owner], tell us a Swedish joke.”

Swedish Owner: *after a short pause tells us a joke in Swedish, then silence follows*

Other Owner: “Okay, what’s that mean?”

Swedish Owner: “Okay, we have a sort of redneck culture in Sweden that is the butt of many jokes. Two girls in the culture are bored. One says, ‘What shall we do today?’ The other says ‘Let’s go see the American ships at the harbor.’ ‘Good idea,’ says the other. They go to the harbor and start climbing up the rope ladder to one of the ships. The girl below looks up and says, ‘Helga! You’re not wearing any panties!’ Helga says, ‘You don’t put cotton in your ears when you go to a concert, do you?'”

(20 years later, I’m a successful programmer, entrepreneur and teacher… and 1500 miles from where I knew these owners. I’m teaching a private class at a major airline. I’ve gone through two security checkpoints to get to the building where I’m teaching. In the lobby, I see a man lounging. I do a double-take. Can’t be, but I ask:)

Me: “[Swedish Owner]?”

Swedish Owner: “Yes?” *looks at me suspiciously*

Me: “It’s me! Do you remember me? 20 years ago? Kid programmer?”

Swedish Owner: *looks closer* “Yes, wow.”

Me: “What are you doing here? Do you work here?”

Swedish Owner: “No, I’m working for [Airline] in France. I was just passing through.

I’m surprised you remember me.”

Me: “I could never forget the Swedish joke!”

Hats Off To Bad Service

| USA | Working | May 22, 2015

(My family is on a flight back to New York City. My older brother is wearing a Yankees baseball hat.)

Flight Attendant: “Hello, what drink can I get you today?”

Brother: “I’ll have a Coke, please.”

Flight Attendant: “Before I serve you, I’m gonna need you to take off that hat.”

Brother: *thinking he is joking* “Ha, good one.”

Flight Attendant: “No, I’m serious. Take off the hat.”

(My brother made light of the situation, and eventually got his Coke. My family, however, was confounded that the flight attendant was actually serious about the hat!)

Making A Graceful Exit

| Las Vegas, NV, USA | Working | December 19, 2014

(A few days before Thanksgiving, my 6’5″ husband and I (tall as well) are on a long trip back to our home in Europe from a trade show in Las Vegas. Our time at the show was fraught with embarrassment and financial peril, as both our East Coast as well as our German credit cards from a major card company are randomly accepted or denied, even within the same hotel. We therefore have resorted to using cash whenever possible. At the airport, my husband is dealing with back pain, and at the gate we try to upgrade our plane seats to Economy Plus with much needed leg room. The agent at the gate is slightly flustered with handling a packed and overbooked flight, but keeping her cool:)

Agent: “Yes, I can give you two exit row seats if that is okay with you. That would be $204.”

Husband: *looking way happier* “Yes, please!”

Me: “Can we pay in cash?”

Agent: “I’m sorry, I may not take cash here, and you cannot get prepaid credit cards in this area of the airport.”

(I explain our credit card and authorization woes, and warn her that they might fail, but to please try them. While she attempts to run all our cards, Husband and I chat that we just will have to take it as it comes with the cards, and hope for the best.)

Me: *noticing the people on the waiting list nearby* “You know, at least we will BE on the flight and get home, with or without the upgrade. I’m glad for that. If we can only pay for one upgraded seat, you’re getting it!”

Agent: “It looks like this [last] card might be authorizing, but the system is acting up again. It won’t let me assign the seats to you!”

Me: “Oh, dear. Did the card fail after all?”

Agent: “I don’t think so. This is the third time today the system is doing this. I’ll try this a couple more times, and if it doesn’t assign, I’ll waive the fee.”

Husband: *in German* “What did she say? Is she serious?”

Me: *in German* “She might be joking. I don’t know. Let’s just wait.”

Agent: “Okay. That does it. I am done with seating system. I am waiving the fee and manually assigning you the seats. Here are your new boarding cards!”

(Shocked and grateful, we shake her hand and thank her profusely. The waiting list people got on the plane, too, on our vacated seats! Airline agent, if you are reading this, you saved us a lot of pain on the long flight home to Thanksgiving with our family there! Thank you so much, and happy Thanksgiving to you, too!)

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