He lays uncomfortably on two generic faded blue plastic chairs, with a bucket of Pollo Campero next to him. In an effort to reposition himself he slips through the opening of both chairs. He lies there a moment and exhales in frustration. He rises from the floor and rubs his back in discomfort.
Customer Service Agents. The people who have this title are supposed to help you. Service their customers. That’s what it means, doesn’t it? Pleasant, courteous, and efficient. Efficient is the key word, isn’t it? But here I sit, a victim of the customer service agent circumstance. CSAC … Should be a defense for murder, like duress. But it’s not and here I am: no blanket, no soft pillow. And there she is …
Bad dye job, gold tooth, blue blazer, and a chewed up pencil in her Aquanet gravity-defying hair … destroying the lives of everyone in her path. Her official name was TACA Airlines customer service agent 547. And of course she happened to be the most incompetent one. She opened up with the typical “and what can we do for you?” But did she really mean it? No. She could care less, all she was worried about was whether or not the next customer would flip out and ruin her hairstyle. Ticket, passport, and luggage please. She typed away on her little computer. Confirmation number, she asked. I search for the God Almighty confirmation number.
I know I had it. I’m sure I have it. They can not let you board unless you have it. But I have my ticket and they didn’t say I needed the confirmation number. So that should be enough. But no … that’s why we have confirmation numbers, senor Vazquez, she says to me. TACA policy. We need the confirmation number. I go on a freakin’ scavenger hunt for ten minutes, looking like the unprepared fool and search my belongings and my pockets when finally I find it in my sock, placed it there for safe keeping I guess. She did not take it, but snatched it from my hands and punched in a couple of computer keys. Her computer freezes and I don’t understand why … it’s a Dell.
She sarcastically whispers: sorry for the inconvenience. BUT IS SHE? … IS SHE! No. Of course not.
She could care less. TACA policy asks her to care, but does she? No. Bastard woman! After fifteen minutes of waiting, the TACA computer is back online and apparently there are no more seats on my flight. I’m a frequent flyer of the friendly skies, but this … this has never happened to me and I’ve never been so infuriated with her attitude!
She smiles, says sorry, and asks me to come again tomorrow to see if MAYBE they can fit me in one of their flights. TOMORROW! I’m here two-and-a-half hours prior to departure and it turns out that not everyone has checked in because there are people still in line, but the person sitting in my seat has checked in. How is that possible!! HOW! Blue Blazer does her best to simmer me down. She insists that yelling at her is not conducive to an efficient working environment. I don’t even think she’s aware that she’s in a work environment, but nevertheless she’s spewing off SAT words to sound important. I don’t want words without substance thrown at me. I want my money’s worth.
My ticket said 27D, I’m reading my confirmation and it spells out 27D, but I don’t have that boarding pass. I should have those things, I need to have those things, but do I … No. Did it not say in the TACA rules and regulation policy handbook to be here two hours before your plane departed?
It wasn’t really a regulation and rules handbook per say she adds, but more of a guideline. And no, she replies, you need to be here three hours before.
I could have committed a homicide, just reached over the TACA Airlines counter and strangled her with that pink and orange $1.99 imitation chiffon scarf that was wrapped around her neck … I could have … and claimed I was suffering from CSAC – a new disorder found in airplane passengers. It’s valid. It sounds valid, just like restless leg syndrome. But that would not have been conducive to a healthy work environment. Apparently society frowns upon attacking women in broad daylight. I realized right then and there why there were so many army soldiers with AK47s patrolling the area. Customer Service Representative Protection.
Perhaps history had taught them that there are more people suffering from CSAC. So, I demanded to see her supervisor.
She looks around and smiles at the soldier standing nearby. “I am the supervisor,” she says authoritatively.
My vein begins pulsating and the hairs on my ass begin to twitch.
Calm down, sir. Calm down.
Did she think I was stupid? I didn’t want to be called sir. Sir, is the customer service way of saying dick. If I was a woman, she would have said ma’am, which translates to bitch. Either way, the passive-aggressive message pisses me off.
I try to smother the molten rage inside me and in any other patron that would have been flying the Central America’s Elite Airline. I knew I should have flown American or United. My relatives warned me, but no … I needed a cheaper ticket. I needed the TACA experience … the TACA adventure. Saving money is no longer a priority when it comes to flying. I should’ve known better. I mean really, it’s a big piece of metal that is magically carrying me across continents and oceans. I should place my trust in quality, not price. I’m worth an extra hundred bucks. I’d pay someone a hundred bucks just to punch this chick’s lights out.
I continued my quest for 27D. I paid for a seat, see here it says CONFIRMATION NUMBER. Alpha Charlie Bravo Tango X-ray 7,1,4 Seat 27D. MARCOS VASQUEZ. Now, how is it that someone else’s ass is in my seat?
I had a reservation. I think her supervisor training failed to cover that aspect so I reminded her of the definition so that me and my chicken could be on their way.
People in the waiting area holding onto their buckets of Pollo Campero stare. What the hell are they staring at? I’m not the only spectacle, transporting fried chicken across time zones. I don’t even want to be an exporter of poultry. I’m a freakin’ vegetarian. But why? Why was I bringing it: MY WIFE. My pregnant wife. It’s chicken, for crying out loud. We have chicken! Popeyes Chicken, Church’s Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Original and Crispy recipes. What the hell is so special about the Pollo Campero from Guatemala! They’re fed better in the States! They even have a Pollo Campero in the city of Pacoima. It shouldn’t matter that Koreans own the American franchise the recipe is still Guatemalan.
I should have taken American Air or United. I think they have a policy against the chicken. But when your pregnant wife craves something you better damn well bring it, because everything is your fault. I mean she’s pregnant isn’t she? And I’m the man. So I needed to get this chicken to my wife.
Customer Service Supervisor began with her offers for a flight the next day. She messed up and wanted me to accommodate TACA?
I wasn’t about to fly to Florida, then Texas, then Colorado to get to my final destination. That chicken did not have enough preservatives for that. My original flight had been non-stop, see here. NON-STOP! I needed to be on that plane, so I didn’t know why Blue Blazer continued to enrage me.
The chicken and I are getting on that plane. My confirmation number is Alpha Charlie Bravo Tango X-ray 7,1,4 Seat 27D!
The soldier and the rest of the crowd waited for her reaction.
Is that for one or two people? She asked.
The chicken is dead, MA’AM so it’ll just be one.
I’m sitting in seat 42F.
My flight status: delayed.