I got some lip from a ROBOT

I called to check on room availabilities at a few hotels in Towson for my parents when they come to visit next month. Google, of course, gave me a few pushpins just a few miles up the road so I started calling. What's amazing is that with each call to the front desks, they sent me off to some call center somewhere to field my questions on room rates and availabilities. I'm a mile away asking a question to a lady who could be my neighbor and soon I'm off to another part of the world talking to someone who pronounces Baltimore wrong.

With one call, I get sent to Lilly who speaks remarkably crisp and quite lovely. She asks the standard questions and when given my turn to respond, my questions are standard as well. "I'm wondering if you have any rooms for the weekend of Oct. 4th?"

"That weekend. Let me checking. I am checking. Yes, we have a standard suite available with one king bed and an attached living room for a rate of $116 a night and cancellation up until the day of for no charge. You can book now if you have a major credit card or online at our website."

I ask a follow up. "I may have more guests, can you tell me if you have another room for that weekend?"

"You can cancel up until the day of arrival for no charge either over the phone at this number or on our website." She answers.

"No. I'm not asking that. I have another...."

"I can't answer that," She steps in. "You can cancel for no extra charge by calling this number or online at our website."

"No, I need to know." I start to ask until she jumps in with the cancellation routine. Now I'm thinking. Although very human, she sounds very mechanical.

While she's talking, I interrupt her with some Ferris Bueller, "I'm afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences."

She cut me off mid-stride with, "I cannot help you with that. Good-bye."

God knows I'm a fan of the geeky or side of things and I wouldn't mind having a robot of my own to answer questions directed my way but at some point we the customers need to be right again.


LOST AND FOUND POETRY AT 37000 FEET I took a walk to the back of the plane in flight today to pee. This is something I try not to do too often and is called the "Walk of Shame" for good reason. First of all, it requires getting up. This after sitting for so long strapped to an airplane is pretty tough to do. Not because of muscle atrophy or sleeping blood vessles but because you get so damned lazy and lethargic. To make the trip though, you have to get a crewmember up front to fill your seat while you are gone. The doors are bullet-proof now and they figure it's best not to have one guy locked up front by themselves with the other i the back. They always want two bodies up front at all times so if one passes out dead and the other can still open the door. The ackwardness of leaving the cockpit and walking by all the folks with them wondering who in the hell is flying the plane is the big reason why I don't care too much for taking the 'Walk of Shame'. But today was going to be that day and my bladder just wasn't holding out like it should. I readied my tie and did the best to fix my hair looking at it in the sunvisor and gathered my thoughts. I had the flight attendant by the door ready to take my seat. She would strap into the Captains seat while I made my way to the toilet seat. We made the hand off and I made sure she didn't hit her head on any red handles. I made my way back. I smiled at the kids and winked at the old ladies. All was well until I was making my way back to my office and a mom asked if i would talk to her son of five or so. "Hello buddy." I said. "Will you give me your autograph?" He said as he thrust a little notebook into my hand. I didn't know what to write. I'm typically pretty quick on my feet but the little guy caught me off guard. Maybe this was his first flight? Maybe he dreams of being a pilot? Maybe this will become a cherished keepsake? "Be Good" I wrote with my cheap hotel pen and signed my name. I've never signed anything Captain before. I nodded to the mom and hurried off to take my seat back. To get back into my element and give the cabin back the professional customer service rep. I told her what I did and what I wrote and she guessed I didn't have kids of my own. Back in my seat thousands of more appropriate one liners came to mind. Witty flying puns that we hear all the time. Couldn't I have written "Keep the blue side up" or "From the friendly skies, your Captain"? No? I had to tell the kid to "Be Good". But I had a great thought. A thought that got me through the flight as I strapped back in and let my limbs fall asleep and atrophy back in the seat. What if he goes on to be a pilot? What if he does carry that slip with him through flight school? What if he goes on to fly the first shuttle mission to Mars and becomes a Global Hero? Maybe he would use my line as his catch phrase? Maybe he would tour the world and on a global mission of peace. "All I ever wanted to be do was fly planes and Be Good!"