Sunday, June 30, 2013

13-1/2 hours by plane, from Madison, WI to Philadelphia - we could have been in Hawaii

     Please don't misunderstand by the title.  We visited some of our wonderful family in Wisconsin, were treated royally, and had a simply marvelous time.  Children and grandchildren looked and acted wonderfully and we would not have given up this fabulous week for anything.  We were active and passive participants in water-skiing, tubing, karate lessons, photo portraits, dining out, and boat rides.  Even the dog and cat seemed to love our visit too.  And the weather was wonderful and conducive to father's day bonding between father (gramps) and son.

     Now for the terror.  We're old.  We always request and receive wheel chairs when we fly.  And the airlines and airports are accommodating - except for the Madison airport which has only one wheel chair pusher on duty at a time.  So, our Wisconsin family arranged for a limo for us both to and from the Chicago airport.  So far, so good.  We arrived at O'Hare in plenty of time for the 3:00 boarding of our 3:30 flight to Philadelphia and joined the waiting throng in the gate-area waiting space.  At precisely 3:00, American Airlines announced that the 3:30 plane to Philadelphia has been canceled and, furthermore, there were no more seats available on any American Airlines flights to Philly that day (or night).  We did not have to worry about checked luggage because we always take only carry-ons.

      We did not join the long line of people at the counter who were clamoring for seats.  Instead, we called the 800 number for American Airlines, waited on hold for 22 minutes (the time is shown on the cell phone) and spoke to a caring and capable agent who apologized profusely.  Then I asked for seats on another airline and she again disappeared from the phone but came back with tickets on a Delta flight and recited the computer-look up numbers.  Our problems were almost solved.  We just needed two more wheel chair pushers to take us on a tour of O'Hare Airport from the American Airlines space to the Delta Airlines space - about a half a mile.

     At Delta, the agent was very helpful and puzzled.  She said that she did not know why American gave us tickets on this flight to Philadelphia because there were no seats.  But, we must have looked very pathetic because she relented, and gave us "bulkhead" seats on the flight that did not go nonstop to Philly but, first to Memphis.  We had our boarding passes and relaxed.  Then, we called our friend who was picking us up and told her about the new plans and she was able to follow the progression of our flights.  Instead of arriving in Philly at 6:30, we did not arrive until after 10:30 - probably closer to midnight, but by that time, I was too tired to check.  And now, sounding like a bad infomercial, "but wait, there's more."

      In Memphis, the flight attendant was much more officious than any we had run into previously.  She denied us the seats in "bulkhead" but moved us up one row and encouraged those passengers to sit in the bulkhead seats.  As a side, the gate for the Memphis to Philly departure was right next to the gate for the Chicago to Memphis arrival.  A break for our wheel chair pushers.

      We arrived in Philadelphia, and were told that the jetbridge was not available and we would have to walk down the "stairs" and cross the tarmac.  Another, "but wait, there's more."  To call them stairs is inaccurate.  They are more like a ladder - and difficult for us "old guys" to use.  When Edgar was asked if he could negotiate the stairs, he said "I'm not going to live out my life on this plane," and with help from several employees, he came down the ladder backwards.  "But wait, there's still more."   One cannot go directly from the tarmac to the street.  Oh no.  One has to go through the bowels of the airport - around utility stations, supplies, storage areas, and dark places that had no signs.  Fortunately, the people who pushed our wheelchairs knew what they were doing and we arrived on the sidewalk and at our friend's car.  What a welcome sight!

     We left Madison, WI at about 11:00 AM and arrived at our house after midnight.  More than 13 hours.  And, as I said in the beginning, we could have been in Hawaii.  We never received any notice as to why the Chicago flight to Philadelphia was canceled.  I am very skeptical that we will ever fly on American Airlines again.  And that's a shame.  Because, for years, we relied on them as our go to Airline.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our water is shut off AGAIN!

      I can understand when Aqua wants to replace old water mains with new ones.  And, I can understand that our water has to be shut off while the work is being done.  And, furthermore, I can understand that 9 to 3 is just a guestimate as to how long the water will be shut off.  So - both yesterday and today, we were without water, from 9 to 3, theoretically.  We managed.  We imposed on our daughter.  Not a problem for her or for us.  She lives only 3-1/2 miles away.
     We came home yesterday, water was turned back on around 4:00 with no problems.
     We came home today, water was turned back on, at 3:00, today and then - oh boy were there problems.  At 7:00, in the middle of brushing his teeth, Edgar said that there was no water.  And, in the middle of running the dishwasher, there was no water.  Edgar went outside to check with the workers who told him that they had run into a problem and would try to have it fixed within a couple of hours.  Now, that's a problem.
     It's late, at least for us.  We are members of the senior citizen society.  In other words, we are on the old side of 70.  (Good thing I took my shower at 5:00).
     We called the Aqua emergency number and after listening to the programmed announcement of all the communities that could be troubled by a lack of water, our call was answered by a person who acknowledged that there was indeed an emergency.  And, I don't want to misquote her, so I will not use quotation marks, but she scared me.  She said that the foreman told her that he ran into a major problem and had to shut down the main immediately or else it would blow and the whole street would collapse.  Panic!!!  Remember the photos of the houses that collapsed in the sink holes in Florida?
     I called the police.  Now, since the new system, there is no way to get directly in touch with the Lower Merion police, but with a communications dispatcher.  I relayed my panic and asked that the police please be notified if our house collapses into a sinkhole so that both Edgar and I can be rescued.  Overreaction?  Maybe!  But I don't think so.  Especially since the Aqua operator said that when PECO has an emergency, and the electricity goes out, they dispatch crews.  I agreed.  I also told her that when the electricity goes out, I have a flashlight.  She backed away from that comparison.  I asked her if another crew was being sent out to help these workers fix the problems so that the main doesn't blow and the street collapse along with my house and us.  She said that another crew would not make the job go any faster.  And, as much as she tried to explain why, her logic or rather, lack of it, made no sense to me.
     Meanwhile, here I sit, waiting for the water main to be fixed.  Please, understand, the new main on Aberdale was supposed to be attached to the new main on Bryn Mawr and the new main on Bala.  With all the new water mains, what kinds of problems could exist?