It was a surprise that I was not able to book the plane tickets online. After all, I had always used the internet to purchase plane tickets. Calling the phone number listed in tiny type on the bottom of the web page would only result in a long wait on hold, followed by an unhelpful salesperson who is angry that you didn’t book your tickets online like the rest of the civilized world. Right?
This was a few years ago. I was booking two plane tickets, one for me and one for my wife, to visit my wife’s family in Ohio. Simple enough. Except every time I went to buy the tickets, the price shot up.
After checking three or four different websites, all with the same result, I finally broke down and called the airline. Assuming I’d be on hold for forty minutes, I found a magazine and sat down in our most comfortable chair.
Amazingly, the call went right through. A woman with a thick Jamaican accent told me she would like to help make my reservation. Well!
Her phone demeanor was impeccable. I gave her the flight information, and we waited for her computer to spit out the numbers. We made small talk. As it turned out, she was actually in Jamaica.
Then she spoke the words that almost changed my travel plans completely: “Why don’t you go to Jamaica?”
She had me there. Why not? I did a quick mental calculation. Would my wife’s anger at not being able to see her family outweigh the surprised happiness at finding out we were going to Jamaica?
Stalling, I asked, “How’s the weather there?”
“Good,” she lilted. “It’s always nice here.” I could hear the surf lapping against her desk. Her eyes were shaded from the warm sun by a Blue Mahoe tree. “How is the weather in Cleveland?”
“Pretty crappy,” I admitted.
By then the information about the Cleveland flight had arrived at her screen. She told me the details. Like a coward, I purchased the tickets.