CELEBRATING 70 YEARS

#AmericanAirlines – Thanks, American Airlines—for teaching me that even a 70th birthday celebration in Hawaii can be ruined. Why, no one could ruin it better than you, American Airlines.

My daughter and I planned this trip way back in March. I charged some things to the wonderful Advantage Card, that your staff spent much of their valuable working time hawking throughout the flight—because I knew I could pay it off before my 70th birthday on October 9th.

We started celebrating my birthday at 3:00am (EST) in Raleigh, NC, by getting up, dressing and rushing out to start the first leg of our trip — a 5:51am flight from RDU to DFW. Little did we know that that would be the last time we would have any control over being “on Time” getting to my dream 70th birthday celebration in Hawaii. And I just want to thank you, American Airlines, for being so spectacular at ruining my dream.

Our plane arrived at DFW on time. After deplaning, I was met at the plane by a transport person, with a wheel chair, who made sure we got to our connecting flight in the knick of time to catch our connecting flight from DFW to PHX.

From there, things, quickly, went down hill. The plane leaving DFW for PHX made weird noises as it taxied down the runway and took off. We, your captive passengers, looked at each other, wide-eyed. A few minutes into the flight, the captain announced over the loudspeaker that our plane would be returning to DFW so the mechanics could check out an, apparent, engine malfunction. We heaved a sigh of relief when we landed safely. We were, oddly, comforted when we realized firetrucks were following us to the gate. I don’t know about the other passengers, but I was, honestly, thankful that our pilot and the control center exercised such caution—got us safely to the ground and off the plane. Before we left the plane, we were told that we would probably be delayed for about two hours. So, my daughter and I went to lunch at the nearby California Pizza. It was lunchtime for us, because we started our day at 3:00am on the east coast. The lovely young lady, in the window seat on our row, who was trying to get home to Phoenix early from her job in Dallas to surprise her young children, said that she might grab breakfast. I mention this so that you will understand that we (my daughter and I) had already had a long day by the time we were traumatized by your plane’s malfunctioning. I cannot help but wonder when that plane was last serviced.

Anyway, my daughter and I had just started to enjoy our lunch when it was announced that passengers on the 520 flight to Phoenix were assigned a different plane and instructed to go to a different gate for boarding. We went back to the original gate and asked how far away the new gate was and if I could get wheelchair assistance to the gate, as was requested on the original ticket. We were advised to stand near the gate entrance and hop on a bus. As we left the gate(with me using my cane) an angel came along with a wheelchair and asked if we needed assistance. When we explained where we were going, she said “Hop on. I’ll get you there.” She, literally, sprinted through the airport, hauled me onto an elevator, pushed me onto the Tram and delivered us to our gate in time for boarding, while chatting and smiling all the way. (By the way, the best people you have working for you are probably the lowest paid—the transport workers. They were all cheerful, professional, knew what they were doing and seemed committed to putting customers at ease, and getting us to our gates on time. )

By the time we arrived in Phoenix, we had missed two connecting flights to Kona, Hawaii. We went to the American Airlines Service Desk. The agent said we had missed the last American flight to Hawaii, but she could book us on a Delta flight out of LAX to KOA. She booked us on an AA flight from PHX to LAX. She said we would have an hour between flights which would give us plenty of time to make the Delta connection. It took a very long time to board all the passengers on the AA plane in PHX. It turns out that American Airlines tends to overbook–meaning they sell imaginary seats. So, the flight, leaving PHX to LAX, was delayed, delayed, delayed. We were seated at the back of the American Airlines plane. By the time we got to the Delta gate, our last hope of getting to Kona, Hawaii to celebrate my 70th birthday vacation at a 5Star resort, was pulling away from the gate. And, because we had been booked on that Delta plane by AA, the Delta service agents could not help us.

We made several phone calls to American Airlines for help. We were instructed to go back to the American Airlines Terminal to get a hotel voucher, while the agent on the phone tried to book us on a nonstop flight to KOA via United for the next day. Of course, the only American Airlines nonstop flight was sold out for the following day. (The clock for my birthday celebration was ticking away.) Our only other option was to fly back to Phoenix to catch an AA flight to Hawaii—not acceptable. At this point, my daughter and I and my cane and rolling carry-on bags had to walk from the Delta Terminal to the American Airlines Terminal to get a hotel voucher. (My daughter suggested we get a taxi, but I thought I could do it. I did not realize that her limbs had swollen from all the time on the planes and walking alongside my wheelchair.)

The AA ticketing agent on site at the terminal found that the telephone agent had not booked us on a flight with United, nor with any other carrier, out of LAX to KOA. The AA ticketing agent in LAX booked the nonstop United flight for us. However, we have to wait until we check-in at United to get seats. We also needed to have someone track our luggage. The AA ticketing agent asked for our baggage tickets to track our bags. (My daughter thinks the agent forgot to give the baggage slips back to her.)

The AA ticketing agent did give us room & dinner vouchers for the night of October 5 at Holiday Inn near LAX. This place is a far cry from the 5-Star Resort with the 2-bedroom suite where I am supposed to celebrate my 70th birthday. The place is being repaired, the carpets are dirty, my daughter and I are sharing a king bed, and we could not use our $24.00 dinner for two voucher for room service.

Your new, huge American Airlines airplanes had so many tiny seats, crammed so close together that even my 5’2” daughter was afraid the person in front of her would have the audacity to lean his seat back onto her knees. Luckily he & his group were real troopers. I think they were headed to Ironman games, according to the ads on their clothing and big backpacks. And, the bathrooms were so tiny that a seven year-old was heard asking her father how her mother was able to get in there to help her little sister use the toilet. But, we all soldiered on.

I realize that we should have checked the your flight “on time” record before booking a trip for my 70th birthday celebration via American Airlines. That was an error on our part. We will do better when we plan a trip in the future. I do want you— and the universe— to know that American Airlines is the best at ruining a birthday celebration. Thanks American Airlines.

Aretha Franklin, The Queen

Watch the Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin, (1942-2018), was more than the queen of soul music. To those of us who grew up listening to her interpret life and drop pearls of wisdom through song, she was the final word.

Through song, Aretha taught us to speak up and demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Through song, she taught us to tell our man to “THINK” before doing us wrong, because there would be consequences.

Through song, Aretha taught us about living together in one America. She used the words of “America The Beautiful”(lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates), the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and her own words to school us to the fact that the America of Walt Whitman (“I Hear America Singing”) and the America of Langston Hughes (“I, Too”) are one and the same.

Aretha Franklin sings My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

When Aretha sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, she sang of an inclusive America. She sang of the land where her Father died. She sang of the land that the European pilgrims took such pride in. She sang about the America from “the red hills of Georgia” to the shining sea–the America of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream.

The Queen is gone, but she left her music as a lodestar.

May she rest in peace.

Aretha Franklin, The Queen

www.youtube.com/watch

Aretha Franklin, (1942-2018), was more than the queen of soul music. To those of us who grew up listening to her interpret life and drop pearls of wisdom through song, she was the final word.

Through song, Aretha taught us to speak up and demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Through song, she taught us to tell our man to “THINK” before doing us wrong, because there would be consequences.

Through song, Aretha taught us about living together in one America. She used the words of “America The Beautiful”(lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates), the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and her own words to school us to the fact that the America of Walt Whitman (“I Hear America Singing”) and the America of Langston Hughes (“I, Too”) are one and the same.

Aretha Franklin sings My Country ‘Tis of Thee

When Aretha sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, she sang of an inclusive America. She sang of the land where her Father died. She sang of the land that the European pilgrims took such pride in. She sang about the America from “the red hills of Georgia” to the shining sea–the America of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream.

The Queen is gone, but she left her music as a lodestar.

May she rest in peace.

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

On Sunday afternoon, I went to the movie theater to see “The 15:17 To Paris.” There was a young guy & his girlfriend in front of me at the ticket window. The guy, wearing a holstered gun on his hip, was waiting for the ticket agent to finish his conversation on the office phone and verify that he could, indeed, wear his holstered gun into the theater. After the ticket agent finished his phone conversation, he explained to the young male customer (the gunslinger) that since North Carolina is a concealed carry state, he could take his gun into the movie theater. ( I wanted to speak up and say that the pistol was not concealed, because I could see it. But, I decided to zip my lips. ) The potential movie goer explained that he wanted to take the gun inside with him because he didn’t want to leave it in the car with his young child. (I sifted through lots of questions at that point; but, still, I zipped my lips.). The ticket agent—a young Black guy—remained calm, said “no problem” to the potential movie goer(whose cut-off blue jeans’ shorts wearing girlfriend stood quietly by, holding his hand ). The potential movie goer asked the ticket agent which movie had a lot of violence. The agent said something like there are a lot of good movies. The potential movie goer pressed the agent for the name of the movie with “ like a lot of violence.” Seemingly, dissatisfied with the agent’s responses, potential movie goer wandered away, holding the hand of his true love, mumbling that he would have to think about it.

I stepped up to the ticket window and asked for a ticket to “The 15:17 To Paris.” I whispered to the agent, that if the young gunslinger should return to buy a ticket to let me know so I could leave the theater; or, better yet, sell him a ticket to something else. The agent laughed and explained to me that in a concealed carry state, the gunslinger has a right to carry his gun wherever he wants. I replied that I don’t care where he carries his gun, I just want to know if he’s in the theater with me so that I can leave. The ticket agent suggested that I sit up high in the theater. He seemed pretty smart to me, so I followed his advice, determined to keep my eye on people coming in to see my chosen movie.

Unfortunately, although “The 15:17 To Paris” has gotten bad reviews from professional movie critics; I got so caught up in the movie, I have no idea if the gunslinger and his girlfriend decided to come into the theater or not.

Today as I watch the news reports of the school shooting in Broward County, Florida, I am struck that the best advice that our leaders and politicians seem to have is: “If you see something, say something.”

So, I want to say something:

1. Take the high ground

2. Look for the exits

3. Listen to young people

5. Vote against any politician supported by the NRA.

And, ignore the movie critics when you choose a movie!

Health Care Matters #STAYWOKE

The Republicans(RyanCare / TrumpCare) are working on a compromise plan to garner enough votes to repeal & replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This compromise, it seems, would not even leave us with Obamacare Lite, because they are talking about repealing 10 essential elements of the ACA (Obamacare). The list of essential services that they will get rid of can be found here 

Essential Elements of the Affordable Care Act

There Goes Our HealthCare

In Case You Missed It The Senate voted 51 to 48:

 1. To end coverage for preexisting conditions, veterans benefits, and aid to rural hospitals.

 2. To remove discrimination protection for women in healthcare.

 3. Against the provision allowing children to remain on their parent’s insurance till the age of 26.

 4. To cut off funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

 5. Against ACA contraceptive coverage and maternity care provision.

 6. To direct committees to send budget legislation to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

 For those who get health insurance through work, no pre-existing conditions. Lifetime caps for coverage are back for everyone.

 Real actions are being taken that will affect more than just the 20-30 million people who will lose their health care coverage and the 3 million people who will lose their jobs.

 Despite their assertions of this being an action to “repeal and replace,” no viable alternative plan has been proposed.

 The House votes Friday.

 As of this moment, no replacement exists.

 Apparently, Speaker Ryan has had his phones cut off because of the volume of calls, so here is his mailing address:

 1233 Longworth HOB

 Washington, D.C. 20515

 Fax: (202) 225-3393