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Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

13 Aug
Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Portrait or landscape either way… it still looks like a pretty spectacular place to go bungy jumping. But then again anything in Australia looks Bucket-List worthy especially when you’re on vacation.

 

 

Fiction Friday: Customer Service Agents

9 Aug

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.

Damn it.

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 …

Bastard woman!

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.

Image by Rick Wilking

Image by Rick Wilking

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.

Ugh!

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?

Dude.

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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

2 Aug
Sydney Opera House and Bridge

Sydney Opera House and Bridge

 

It took me about 15 hours to get there.

It was cold.

It was overcast.

It was raining.

It was The Masterpiece I waited to see my whole life.

It was awesome.

Even Mother Nature agreed how spectacular this was because it decided to shine its light on it.

 

 

The Mood Changer

27 May

It’s a three-day weekend and for most people this Memorial Day Weekend means a mini-vacation — an escape from yourself and your life. I’m sad to say that I didn’t escape anything or anyone the last three days.

I felt pretty much like a dud stuck in my overcrowded part of the hemisphere. But I couldn’t let myself or my family completely drown in the boredom of staying-in-town–for-the-weekend routine. So I did what any poor writer with financial technical difficulties would do … I had a stay-cation at the beach, appreciated the moments with my kids, and gave thanks to the fallen soldiers from the past. This stay-cation proved to be better than expected.

I have to say, the Pacific Ocean rocked. It’s a total mood changer. But in addition to the beach all activities were accompanied by barbecue.

 

 

Touching the Pacific Ocean

Touching the Pacific Ocean. This was the shy beginning … but by the end of the day everyone was jumping waves and needing to use the beach showers to get sand out of everywhere.

 

 

A beach trip is not complete without building sandcastles. And everyone was hard at work, but as you can tell I didn't dress my kid. Pink would never have been an option for my daughter. In fact I have no idea how this swimsuit made it. It's a good thing the Pacific Ocean had magical mood changing powers.

A beach trip is not complete without building sandcastles. And everyone was hard at work, but as you can tell I didn’t dress my kid. Pink would never have been an option for my daughter. In fact I have no idea how this swimsuit made it. It’s a good thing the Pacific Ocean had magical mood changing powers.

 

 

Snack time was pretty tasty.

Snack time was pretty tasty.

 

 

Our tasty side dishes.

Our tasty side dishes.

 

 

For the vegetarian side of the family.

Ceviche … for the vegetarian side of the family. I had two helpings with my steak.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

7 May
Checking out the scene.

Checking out the scene.

 

Planes, trains, and automobiles.

Sometimes things look better when you’re just hanging out … from above … standing still … up high … no people, no tour guides, no craziness.

No BS.

Just nature.

Sometimes it’s even better when you’re on vacation and it’s Australian nature and you’re sitting there with a nice piece of Australian chocolate.

From above.

Yeah sometimes when you’re on vacation from above is an awesome way to go.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

5 Dec

 

 

The first thought that came to mind when I heard about this week’s challenge was Diana Ross and The Supremes. But seeing how this is a photo challenge I thought I would post a picture and show off my non-photography skills.

In Cairns

Taking a moment in Cairns, Australia

Reflection

After an exciting morning of bungee jumping …

After chit-chatting with the local Aussies and wishing my American accent was more interesting …

After having a great lunch …

After taking a long train ride through the countryside …

After a long day of tours …

I took a moment to catch my breath, check out the scene, and reflect on the awesomeness of this trip.

Reflection.

 

 

Passing On The Secret Memo

19 Oct

Image via quotablecards.com

 

Dude. I’m not a sailor and I don’t go motor-boating, but where the hell was this piece of advice twenty years ago? I guess if I had a boat, maybe even a jet ski, I would have got this secret memo.

It’s all good … I’m trying to make up for it now.

 

 

 

Surviving the Wall of Death

1 Oct

I don’t know what it is, I really don’t. But I am in serious fear of The Wall of Death. Have you seen this life-threatening monstrosity rearing its ugly head mile after mile along the fast lane of your not so favorite highway?

Usually you have a buffer zone between you, the center divider, and oncoming traffic. It’s a nice cushy shoulder, perhaps about five feet. But it is the most desperately needed five feet on earth. Now I’ve been driving for a while now, and I’m usually a little give or take on the miles per hour on the highway. But when it comes to The Wall of Death, I am barely at the speed limit. This thing freaks me out. And it makes no sense because no matter what, the lanes are always the same width, right?

The Wall of Death

Well, maybe. Driving alongside The Wall of Death makes you think twice about that. Inches count here. Realistically, I know the lanes stay the same. They have to make them wide enough for gass-guzzling Exaggerators and semi-trailers. But without that shoulder as a buffer? Without those five feet?

Dude.

This weekend those precious five feet were taken away as I was driving back from a friend’s house. Construction. Damn construction. I don’t know what they were fixing, or why it needed to be fixed, but from the looks of those concrete barriers and the tire skid marks adorning the side walls, this freeway makeover was taking longer than expected. But when it comes to construction, when does it actually finish on time? I mean they could use the Extreme Homemaker guy for these things. It would help my blood pressure.

But they don’t. So there I was … driving about ten miles alongside the Wall of Death. I was trapped, bounded by those double yellow lines that separate the carpool lane from regular traffic.

My heart was pounding, my anxiety shot up, and I got tense all over. I was holding onto that steering wheel for dear life. I tried raising the volume and singing along to some of my favorite tunes, but that wasn’t working. I tried some Lamaze breathing, but that didn’t seem to work. I mean it didn’t work during labor, so I don’t know why it would work then. But I was trying anything. Nothing was working. The only thing that helped, was getting the hell out of that lane.

But those damn double-double yellow lines were screaming … don’t do it, don’t do it! Big ticket, lady. So seeing how I didn’t need an encounter with the lovely highway patrol, I decided to cowboy up and do my best to try to stay centered, but the fear kept driving me toward the white dash lines, the ones with the reflectors that gave the car the bump-bump-bumpity-bump rhythm as I drove over them.

I don’t know it must be the chick in me. I don’t know any guys that sweat the Wall of Death lane, but it is what it is. After about ten miles, I saw the opening and I took it. I had survived the Wall of Death once again. I had to deal with an extra twenty minutes of traffic, but I was fine with it. My blood pressure thanked me.

 

 

Weekly Image of Life: Inspiration

29 Sep

Uluru, Australia

 

I have never been a morning person in my life.

Ever.

But waking up knowing that I’d be spending the entire day here … that was definitely an inspiration.

It was almost five in the morning. It was about thirty degrees. And all I had on a long sleeve hooded cotton shirt. The thin kind.  I was freezing so much that my nose was running and I couldn’t stop shivering.

But I didn’t care.

Most definitely an inspiring adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

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Host of Weekly Image of Life Challenge: This Man’s Journey

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

11 Sep

 

 

Tikal, Guatemala

 

Near and Far.

After the crazy turbulent mini plane ride where you  almost died, you thank God when you land on the jungle floor and the mosquito attacks you.

You enter the plaza and see it. It’s majestic.

You can’t believe your people built this, and it takes you ages to build something with Legos.

You walk to the base. It’s there. You’re close. You’re near.

And then you look at the steps. You look at the top.

It’s 125 feet tall.

Far.

You take a breath, a bottle of water, and are thankful that you wore deodorant.

Near and Far.