Thank You for Losing My Luggage

Thank You for Losing My Luggage

[The following is a true story.]

This is the true story of the time a major airline accidentally lost my luggage. Both my luggage and I are still in therapy over the incident.

This is the true story of the time a major airline accidentally lost my luggage. Both my luggage and I are still in therapy over the incident.

Dear United Airlines Customer Severance Department,

I’m sorry. Did I write Customer Severance? Silly me. I meant “Customer Service.” Just like your airline meant to get my luggage from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

I hope I’m not catching you at an inconvenient time – though I have a nagging feeling you’re wading through a slew of letters just like this one. Perhaps you even have a whole department dedicated to lost luggage letters.

My boss was sending me to work a trade show. In preparing for my trip, I planned to take one small suitcase as carry-on, to avoid dealing with baggage claim – as much as I admire the delicate care always provided by your expert team of baggage handling professionals, mind you.

But then, the evening before my early morning flight, I received a most thoughtful robocall informing me that tomorrow’s flight would be quite full and advising me, due to limited storage capacity on board, to check my suitcase. Not wanting to be a disagreeable passenger, I dutifully complied.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my obeisance to your airline’s directive to check my bag is totally on me. After all, this is a free country. I could have chosen to ignore your message and brought my carry-on onto the plane. But had I done that, I never would have experienced the joy and satisfaction of sharing with you the story of what happened next.

When I arrived in D.C. at 10:00 pm, I figured I’d be snug in my hotel room snoring by 11:15. Graciously, your airline had other plans for my evening. I went directly to the indicated baggage claim carousel. I was impressed that within minutes, luggage came cascading down the conveyor belt – one piece after another.

10 minutes later I was feeling less impressed. 25 minutes later, a funny thing happened. Let me rephrase that: A funny thing DID NOT happen. My suitcase never arrived. I am relieved to report that of the 275 people on my flight, only one person’s parcel failed to reach its intended destination. Spoiler alert: it was mine.

Of course, I had foolishly packed my blood pressure, cholesterol, and half a dozen other life-saving medications in that bag, along with the clothes I would need for the trade show. I totally should have FedExed the lot. What was I thinking?

It was surprisingly easy to find your lost luggage office. Less surprising was that I was the fourth person in line. Not unlike waiting in the queue at Disneyland’s Space Mountain during spring break, I eventually reached the counter – at 12:01 a.m. I will say, your agent was quite polite as he placed the “CLOSED” sign on the counter directly in front of me and informed me I could come back at 6:00 a.m. when they reopened.

I must have looked even more desperate than I felt – or more menacing – because your representative grudgingly agreed to help me out. Again, this was totally my fault for keeping him late, due to my blatantly misguided decision to follow your airline’s instructions to check my baggage. I just hope your agent can find it in his heart to forgive me.

In his professional opinion, he concluded that I probably checked in too close to departure and that my luggage simply missed the flight. No doubt your rep was right to pin the blame on me. My bad, deciding to check my bag a mere two hours before the plane’s scheduled departure rather than on the previous Thursday.

When I asked if it might be on a later flight, I had to respect the fellow’s candor when he said, and I quote, “I have no idea where in the Hell your bag is.”  Perhaps he was feeling a little hangry. 

Naturally I was hoping he would offer me a voucher to purchase clothes, since all I had were the T-shirt, shorts and Birkenstocks I wore onto the plane. He indulgently explained that my luggage should arrive the next day, and as a result, he was not authorized to issue me a clothing allowance.

I asked your charmingly helpful agent what impression he thought I might make at our trade show booth wearing my shorts and a T-shirt that read “People say I have A.D.D. but they don’t know what – Hey, look! A Squirrel.” He deferred to his supervisor, who was just getting off duty as well. The latter reluctantly okayed the clothing allowance. Then your baggage claim agent politely added, “Don’t go buying expensive Florsheim shoes or Calvin Klein shirts, as high-end clothing will not be covered.” I had no idea Calvin Klein made shirts.

The actual route my suitcase took is apparently classified. But here is my best guestimate of its whirlwind world tour. All those sites in only three days!

The actual route my suitcase took is apparently classified. But here is my best guestimate of its whirlwind world tour. All those sites in only three days!

The next morning at precisely 7:02 am, the most amazing thing happened. A customer service manager, no less, called to provide a most helpful status update. “We’re still looking for your luggage. We’ve not been able to locate it yet. All we know is it’s not in Seattle.” 

In the interim, I was able to find a Marshall’s department store, which, in case you’re not familiar with their luxury brand, makes the clothes at Walmart look like a Paris fashion show. I purchased a shirt and slacks that were vaguely close to the required colors of our booth attire – and only two sizes too large, because that’s all they had in stock. On the plus side, people wondered if I had lost weight. Sweet.

Your crack team of Sherlock Holmes detectives finally traced the location of my luggage only two days later. It had apparently been loaded onto a plane bound for Rio or was it Buenos Aires? The good news is that the moment they finally found my precious cargo, they quickly re-routed it… to Atlanta. Did I mention my trade show was in D.C.? But hey, at least my clothes, meds, and I were now in the same time zone, so that’s progress.

I finally received my stuff just in time for my flight home to Seattle. I opted not to check my suitcase for that trip. I hope your ticket agent wasn’t offended by my insistence.

So, there you go. You can count on me to share my great appreciation on Twitter, Facebook and 11 other social media sites. Please pass along to your baggage handlers and everyone else involved in re-routing my luggage to South America, my heartfelt appreciation for everything they’ve done to restore my confidence in –  my decision never ever to fly “the friendly skies” of United Airlines again.

Sincerely,

Tim Jones

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

Tim’s Home Office News

Tim’s Home Office News

[Author’s note: Ever since I moved from Seattle to Camano Island, I’ve worked from home, by myself, as an independent contractor / consultant. Recently, in order to feel a little less isolated, I instituted my own company newsletter, which I call Tim’s Home Office News. I thought you might like to read the latest installment. – TEJ]

Welcome to this edition of Tim’s Home Office News – your most reliable source about what’s happening at Tim’s Home Office. (This month’s issue was written by our new VP of Public Relations, Tim, seen above.)

Welcome to this edition of Tim’s Home Office News – your most reliable source about what’s happening at Tim’s Home Office. (This month’s issue was written by our new VP of Public Relations, Tim, seen above.)

TIM’S HOME OFFICE NEWS – September Edition

Welcome to Tim’s Home Office News, our monthly bulletin aimed at keeping everyone working here at Tim’s Home Office up to date on the latest happenings around the company. There’s lots to report, so let’s get started!

First of all, a tip of the hat to Tim for winning our Employee of the Month award for the 47th straight month. Way to go, big guy! Thanks to your outstanding performance, you will once again earn your very own parking space in the corporate garage. We would mail you your engraved plaque to proudly display on your cubicle wall for all to see – but our records indicate you already have it.

Also, congratulations are in order for our Facility Manager, Tim, on completing the renovation of the employee lounge (also known as Tim’s Man Cave) at a cost of only 260% over budget. We think all who work here will agree the new 55” hi-def flat screen TV and PlayStation 4 video game console were long overdue enhancements, which will no doubt pay for themselves in increased productivity and improved morale.

In other Tim’s Home Office news, you’ve probably noticed the state-of-the-art smoothie maker in our staff kitchen. A big shout out of appreciation goes to our Office Administrator, Tim. And thanks also to our Intern Tim for all those delicious smoothie recipes (except for the one with Kale. Not a big hit with the staff, buddy).

As happens from time to time, the corporation decided to implement a much-needed staff re-organization to improve efficiencies and reduce waste. It comes as no surprise that Tim has been appointed Senior Vice President of Operations, effective immediately. He will continue to oversee his previous responsibilities in the areas of facilities management, marketing, finance and human resources, until further notice. We wish Tim the best of luck in his new role.

Tim’s Home Office has released its latest Profit & Loss statement. We regret to report that for the ninth consecutive month, we’ve had had to dip into the employee retirement plan to meet cash flow requirements and cover critical operational costs. Included are the lease on our home office, insurance, utilities and maintenance on the company fleet of vehicles (make that “vehicle”).

One insider (known only by the initials T.I.M.) criticized our Transportation Director Tim’s decision to acquire an unbudgeted new SUV as “an unnecessary impulse purchase of questionable timing.” On a related note, we regret to report that the company retreat originally scheduled for this fall in Cabo San Lucas has been postponed indefinitely.

In related news, which may come as a relief to some, despite missing revenue projections for the third straight quarter, the senior leadership of Tim’s Home Office has decided not to lay off a single employee. In an internal memo to the staff, CEO Tim wrote, “I care about every employee. Before I would fire any of them, I would fire myself!”

This past weekend was the always fun annual employee golf outing. Unfortunately, attendance was light again this year, perhaps due to the unusually cold temperatures. In the end, only our Sales Manager, Tim, was able to attend the event. Tim is excited to share that he won the “Closest to the Pin” competition on three of the four par threes. Next time, how about a hole in one, eh, Tim?

In these stressful times, we know that morale is everything. So, the Executive Steering Committee, led by Tim, is installing a state-of-the-art hot tub – the enjoyment of which will be limited to employees and guests of Tim’s Home Office. Please refer to your Employee Handbook for details about its use and our clothing-optional policy.

Congratulations to Tim on being named Employee of the Month. Tim was the unanimous pick of all the employees. Atta boy, Tim. We knew you could do it!

Congratulations to Tim on being named Employee of the Month. Tim was the unanimous pick of all the employees. Atta boy, Tim. We knew you could do it!

It will soon be time to celebrate Tim’s Home Office annual company Christmas party – to be held, as is the tradition, at our headquarters. Newly announced Senior VP of Operations Tim will be looking for volunteers to spearhead the planning, including food, decorations, and musical entertainment. Employees interested in joining the steering committee are encouraged to look for the sign-up sheet in the employee lounge.

We would like to address rumors that have been circulating about a possible acquisition of Tim’s Home Office by a potential suitor. While it is true that the company was in discussions about merging with a nearby competitor, Brad’s Home Office, negotiations broke down when their CEO (named Brad) was unwilling to absorb the accumulated debt position of Tim’s Home Office.

There is no word yet on the timetable for publishing the company’s annual report – or for that matter, hiring a Board of Directors or replacing the Senior Leadership Team. But according to our Director of Communications, Tim, the annual report, when completed, will provide a rich and full disclosure of the company’s finances and bright projections for a successful fiscal year ahead – just as soon as our Chief Financial Officer, Tim, can locate someone who knows how to use a calculator and a spreadsheet.

That’s it for this month’s edition of Tim’s Home Office News. And remember, next Friday is the deadline to submit your nomination for next month’s Employee of the Month. I’m talking to you, Tim!

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

[Author’s Note: This week’s post was inspired by my dear friend and fellow humorist, Steve Fisher, at right, who came up with the premise and invited me to run with it. – TEJ] 

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019

My Short-Lived Career as a BINGO Announcer

My Short-Lived Career as a BINGO Announcer

Throughout my life, I’ve held a variety of jobs – from Sales Director to Director of Sales and everything in between. Given the chance, I could have been a superstar selling advertising, life insurance or legal research to anyone from astronauts to Aborigines, had my employers not fired me for poor performance and incompetence. So, you can imagine my excitement when I recently heard about an opening that sounded right up my alley: Working the BINGO booth at our local county fair.

When word got to me that a local non-profit needed help with the fair’s BINGO operations, I knew I was the perfect candidate. When the BINGO Boss man called, I was totally prepared. I had updated my resume to reflect relevant skills that made me uniquely qualified for this challenge – most notably that I was adept – even under pressure – at differentiating most letters from numbers.   

I was surprised at how few questions the recruiter posed during the interview. His opening pitch was, “Are you willing to work the BINGO booth at the fair this weekend?” From the get-go, I picked up on serious buying signals. Not to appear immodest, but I am a tenacious negotiator. I asked him what the base salary was. He said there was no salary. I interpreted that to mean it was commission-only. No problem, I thought. That just means the sky’s the limit.

I asked about stock options, how the health insurance plan worked, whether the job came with a matching 401K and when I’d be eligible for my four weeks of vacation. In the end, we reached what I feel was a fair compromise: No salary, vacation, stock options or health coverage. But I wrangled free entrance to the entire fairgrounds – including behind-the-scenes access to the rabbits exhibit and the tractor pull competition.    Continue reading “My Short-Lived Career as a BINGO Announcer” »

NIGHT OF THE DEAD (AIR)

NIGHT OF THE DEAD (AIR)

 [The following is a true story.]

The year was 1977. I was 22, just out of college, and working minimum wage for a top-forty radio station in Charlottesville, Virginia – WCHV.

I completed a grueling course to earn my Third Class Radio Operator’s license, qualifying me to be on the airwaves – and make photocopies for the other disc jockeys. Perhaps because I broke the copy machine and spilled coffee on the radio control panel, the station manager wouldn’t let me near the microphone – except to read the T & T (time and temperature) on Christmas day when everyone else was at home for the holiday.

My big break came the following Spring. It was 11:30 on a Tuesday night. I was in bed, unable to sleep because I lay there hacking and sniffling. I was sicker than a dog. Then the phone rang. It was the station manager: “Tim, Chris Furlong is under the weather and can’t do his midnight shift. I’ve called literally everybody, and nobody is available. So, what do you say? Want to be on the air?”

Tonight?” I wheezed. However sick Chris Furlong might have been, I was feeling ten times worse. So naturally I answered: “Abso [cough] lutely, boss! [cough]. THANK [cough] YOU!”

“Sure you’re feeling all right, buddy?”, he asked? “Never felt – ahhhhh-choooo – better. I’ll be right over,” I sneezed.

I arrived at the station at 11:50 for the 12:00 to 6 am shift. At the stroke of midnight, the previous shift’s jock raced out of the studio, like Cinderella fleeing from the Ball. At that moment, it suddenly dawned on me: I was totally alone in the building. The fate of WCHV was upon my shoulders ALONE.

Continue reading “NIGHT OF THE DEAD (AIR)” »

Meet the Likely Next President of My Alma Mater – ME

Meet the Likely Next President of My Alma Mater – ME

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but, begrudgingly, I may have to put my island life retirement on pause and return to work. That’s because odds are I will be selected as the next president of my alma mater, the prestigious University of Virginia.

You see, I received this email from some guy named Louis something-or-other, whose title is “Rector”, whatever that means. Sounds important. So, Louis informs me the University of Virginia is seeking my input as an esteemed alumnus as to who should be the school’s next head honcho. He even included a survey. I love surveys.

Naturally, I was deeply honored by this personal invitation he sent to me and 27,000 other alumni. I sure hope he overlooks that my last donation to UVa was in 1985. I was short on cash then, so I sent a $25 Starbucks gift card regifted to me for Christmas.

The more I looked at Louis’s questions, the more obvious it became that I was the perfect candidate. Check out the survey and my responses below.

Dear University of Virginia alumnus: Identifying the right leader for our future will depend upon the collective wisdom of the University community, so we appreciate you sharing your thoughts via this survey. 

When you think of the University of Virginia, what sort of community do you envision the next president fostering?  

MY RESPONSE: As your next university president, I envision a community that believes in effective communication. That’s why I would give special funding to Speech Communication, my extremely lame major, which only qualified me to flip burgers for a living or go on to grad school. It’s time we make Speech Communication the major of the future.

Continue reading “Meet the Likely Next President of My Alma Mater – ME” »

How to Blow a Job Interview

How to Blow a Job Interview

bad job interview - lawyersI know a thing or two about job interviews. I’ve had more than my fair share over my career. On more than a few occasions, the employer even wrote me a personal note saying they would “keep your name on file” if a more suitable opportunity arose or whenever Hell froze over.

Of course, in most cases, your goal in any job interview is to make a good impression. At last count, there are 15,473 different advice books out there pitching strategies to help you prepare for job interviews. These experts offer time-proven, practical tips like Don’t forget to shower before you show up or this useful suggestion: Arrive at least five minutes before your scheduled appointment time, but not seven hours before, as that just comes off as creepy.

But there are no advice books out there on how to blow the interview. That’s where I come in. Say you’re in the middle of a high-stress interview, and it suddenly becomes clear the people at this company are a bunch of a-holes. You conclude you’d rather sit through a three-day insurance presentation on the benefits of whole life over term than ever work for these jerks. What are you going to do? Oh sure, you could just endure the rest of the interview, making steady eye contact, extend a firm handshake, thank the recruiter for her time and exit gracefully – just like every other lame job candidate would do. But since when did you just follow the crowd?

The next time you’re faced with the job interview from Hell, and you know you’d rather take a job as a great white shark feeder with one of those underwater metal cages as your “cubicle” than work one minute for this toxic employer, don’t go walking. Start talking. To help you out, I’ve crafted some handy responses to frequently asked job interview questions, designed to ensure they’ll never invite you back:

Interview question: Why should we hire you over any of the many other highly qualified candidates we are talking to?

Your response: Well, for one thing, can any of them belch the National Anthem on key? Also, if you hire me, your other employees will start to look outstanding by comparison, and that will really help their morale. By the way, I’ve checked into the backgrounds of some of your other candidates. I’m pretty sure I saw the previous interview candidate on an episode of To Catch a Predator. Hey, not to brag, but I have a totally clean criminal record – because they never could prove the arson charges. Also, I never say ugly, racist comments. I always keep those thoughts to myself. Continue reading “How to Blow a Job Interview” »