Becoming Angry and Nasty too

A few days ago, I was unable to update my credit card number in my United Airlines Mileage Plus account. An older number appeared on the screen when I booked my flight, but there was no obvious way to get into my account online to bring it up to date.

There followed a considerable search on my part to speak to a real live caring person to help me correct the error. It began like this:


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For reasons not apparent, United Airlines makes it challenging to reach the person to person step. The customer is initially diverted to irrelevant pages to see if anything presented there might possibly help them. Maybe they knew from experience that a human to human connection between two humans halfway across the world could be fraught with problems, even if it did save the company some money.  I guess they save hiring more people by diverting as many customers as possible to an online solution.

After I finally connected with someone, I could not have dreamed up a more ridiculous and irritating interaction. It might have led a person less in control of their behavior than myself to violence.

I was connected to a man somewhere across the globe who promised to help me if I would just answer a few “security” questions.
I could feel myself resisting, but I’d gotten this far and I didn’t want to let go. I figured they’d want my mother’s maiden name and the name of my first beloved dog. No way.

Out of Nowhere


He:  “What is your favorite pizza topping?

Me: “You’re kidding, right? ”  I asked him, my mind boggled by the fact that this was an actual security question.

He:  “No, Ma’am,” he matter of factly replied, finding no humor in my question.  This man had a job to do and whether or not it made any sense, he was not to be moved from following his instructions.

Me:  “That’s a ridiculous question,” I answered matter of factly as well, trying to match his even temperament but feeling my anger rise. I was sure I was stating the obvious.  “I have no favorite pizza topping nor did I ever tell anyone at your organization what the answer to that question would be!” Besides, I NEVER answered your so-called security questions.

Me still in disbelief:  “Are you just making up the questions?”

He:  “I’m sorry , Ma’am. Would you like to try another one?”

Me:  “It better not be as bullshit as your first question,” I responded tartly. “Is there some other more sensible way to do this transaction?”

“He:  I’m sorry Ma’am. You must answer the questions. Maybe the next question would ask me the name of my hometown. I hung in there.


He:  “WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO TRAVEL?” he now wanted to know.

Me:  “BY SPACESHIP? ” I queried. My anger had risen to a new high.  My smart – ass self was my only defense.

Me:  “Let me talk to your manager, please, I insisted, thinking this was the only solution and would quickly fix things.

He:  “The manager must ask you the same questions,” he assured me.

Me:  “THIS IS TOTAL BULL SHIT!!” I now shouted into the phone, any attempt at maintaining a semblance of politeness was now completely out of reach for me.

I’d reached my limit.  I’d already spent about a half an hour on this little exercise.  I had to terminate this exchange asap.
I slammed down the phone, not enjoying any satisfaction.  I had failed.

I went back online to the UAL website. There, buried under a stash of irrelevant information, I finally found a link to change the digits required for updating my card.

How have things gotten to this low point? How about a customer achieving security from inanity?


how are we doing?

Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch

Many years ago I was too intimidated to walk into a high end NYC department store such as Berdorf Goodman. My mother favored Saks Fifth Ave when we made our annual visit to NYC. Particularly their pocketbook sales. My guess now is that Berdorf’s intimidated her too. The somewhat haughty “May I help you?” used to make me think that they somehow knew just by looking at me that I couldn’t afford anything they were offering.

My shoes are a better quality now. So is my attitude. Somewhere along the line, maybe when I got older than the sales persons, I stopped feeling intimidated. Maybe it was moving to CA that made me feel and think I looked more or differently sophisticated and could therefore feel ok in this status conscious temple. I know that, at some point, the Upper East Side look,which initially fascinated me and seemed unapproachable started to look conforming and dated. Nothing to fear here, for sure.

Today I wandered into the store needing a new lipstick. NO problem. It was near lunchtime so I made my way to the top floor to find a seat at their restaurant Bg. I took a seat in the lounge, because they told me there was no space in the restaurant itself. I had a perfect vantage point by the entrance to the restaurant to watch the arrival of the Ladies who Lunch. and even surreptitiously take a few photos for this blog.

“Look how gorgeous you are!”exclaims one socialite to another. “I didn’t recognize you in this fabulous color!”

It’s a chic timeless room with a green canopy of trees from Central Park visible from the windows. The  upholstered small tables for two by the windows are understandably coveted. A place to see and be seen.

window seats

“A glass of white burgundy and ice water with a straw,” the woman seated next to me briskly instructs her waiter.

I easily broke the diners into categories. (90% female)
A. Those dressed all in black with and without a reservation, looking quite comfortable and more than pleased to grab a seat in the lounge when told there was no room in the restaurant itself. They know their way around here.
B. Those who step off the elevator looking uncertain. They are doomed to remain on the outside of this clubby enclave. Treated kindly as far as I could tell, but quickly turned away. The woman in the center of this photo epitomizes this look.

C. Young, polished, self-assured  creatures who were there to attend a private party in the curtained off back room.They swept right through the door by passing the hostess. No one dares to question their right to be there.

D. The impeccably dressed and coiffed single female guests, greeted with a hug and large smile by the maitre d. He is positioned discreetly across the door from the hostess whom most check in with, for such an occasion when someone of “import” arrives and needs to be fussed over and ushered into the inner sanctum. Maybe there’s always a table waiting for this kind of guest? Too obvious and too close to even attempt a photo here.

I couldn’t help noticing the power shoes that came through the door. It was easy taking the photos of feet.


LOoks like the afro is back.

The people watching was great here. Probably unchanged for the last century. I think the only thing that fortunately has changed is my frame of reference!