Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We taught the brat

What does the title of this post have to do with the actual post? Not much, except for the fact that I am the author of this post and the title is a snippet of one of my favorite refrains ever. But trust me, the story you are about to read would have been a LOT more exciting if baseball bats had been involved.

So I'm going to San Francisco this weekend! (Pause for applause). And I'm going with a friend who is in a different time zone and we kept putting off finalizing our plans until one early morning eastern time last week when she checked the flight we were planning on taking from LAX to SFO and realized there were but six seats left on said flight. Friend immediately texted me but I was still in bed during what was a much earlier morning pacific time and I didn't respond. Fortunately, friend made the right decision and booked both of our tickets.

As has been previously discussed on this blog, sometimes I am Riley but most of the time I am Not Riley. Friend most appropriately booked the ticket for my Not Riley persona. The problem, however, is that, as Not Riley, I actually use two different first names--one is for friends and family while the other is reserved for more mundane things such as driver's licenses, tax returns and business cards for use in the stodgy profession. In other words, my legal name might be Not Riley, but those in the know call me Nori for short, including my flight-booking Friend. Unfortunately (yet most understandably), Friend booked the ticket in Nori's name.

Now, I know from past experience that I have no hope of getting through airport security with a ticket that says Nori and photo identification that says Not Riley. Thank you, terrorists. And so, only a few hours after Friend booked the ticket, I set upon the arduous task of calling the airline to change the name on the ticket to Not Riley. Calling airlines, banks, insurance companies, what have you is perhaps one of my least favorite things to do. I never understand it when I hear people complain that they didn't get to talk to a "real person." In my opinion, the services of real people are completely overvalued. I will exhaust every website, FAQ sheet, "contact us" email, and automated telephone system I can find before I will resort to explaining a predicament--often caused by the company itself--to a real person working for said company. Yet this is exactly what I had to do with the airline in order to change the name on my ticket.

The real person I reached was certainly pleasant but not particularly helpful. She didn't seem to believe that Nori was a valid nickname for Not Riley and so she kept threatening to charge me a fee for transferring the ticket to another individual. Thus, she forced me to turn to the only strategy proven effective in dealing with such a real person: WEAR HER DOWN. That is, outlast her. To hang up the phone in exasperation is to concede defeat. Talk in circles for hours if you have to--eventually she will want to take a lunch break (note to companies: FAQ sheets don't take lunch breaks) and will give in just to get you off the phone. And so I told her the story about how Friend calls me Nori and Friend booked the ticket over and over and over and over and over again. Finally, she agreed to "attempt to make the change" without incurring the fees because I had called within 24 hours of booking the ticket.

This process took about 10 years. I nearly lost it when she asked me how to spell "Not Riley" in an agonizingly slow manner. This wouldn't have been so bad were it not for the fact that, in the real world, "Not Riley" is an incredibly common proper noun. And even that wouldn't have been so bad were it not for the fact that the name of the very airline she works for is "Not Ril." I kid you not. She asked me to spell a word that incorporates the name of her own employer in its entirety with a five-second pause between each letter.

At the end of the day, the reservation got changed and I avoided yet another mark next to my name on TSA's watch list. Regardless, there's a point in there somewhere. It might have to do with my apparent addiction to using multiple names. On the other hand, it might have to do with baseball bats.


  1. Sorry. Blame your Grandmother. She's the one who was first named "Delta Dawn".

  2. Oh I love this. And I, too, prefer a FAQ sheet or an automated menu to a "real person" any day.

  3. I made the mistake of hyphenating when I got married :(

    Airline reservation systems never get my name right, which is always a problem when I am forced to use the kiosk self check-in.

  4. I'm just glad I know your real name, otherwise I'd be agonizing for days about what it must really be!

  5. I loved this story.
    I had the problem of someone buying a ticket for me under my nickname too. Pretty frustrating.

  6. .

    And that's why I only ever use my real name ever on anything ever as everyone will tell you.

  7. Those of you who know me well know that I am a really lame commenter...meaning that I NEVER do it. But seriously, I could I resist commenting on this HILarious post. Not Riley, Nori, or "Nor," as I like to call her, is one funny gal!

  8. Bust a gut! This story is hilarious. No wonder you are a now-famous novelist. BTW, I finished reading said novel this week. What a gem.

  9. Hilarious. Or as I like to say, Hilari.

  10. I feel like this post is a longer (and more entertaining) version of one of those story problems found on the LSAT or GRE. And you know how I love a good story problem! (good thing I already know the answer)

    P.S. I'd like to add Kaiser California and all medical health insurance companies to your list of incompetent "real people."