April 20, 2005

Up and Over

There is no like or not-like. There is no mild interest or pale disdain. Here on the road, at Chez Travel Sans Mercy, there is only passionate delighted love, and black, bleak hopeless loathing.

What I Love: Greenville, with its darling downtown, and its parks full of waterfalls, an awesome indie called Open Book, and its owner, Duff. Great guy, STEEPED in SC history, smart and funny. I had....BUMBAH! The Signing. The one everyone warns you about, the inevitable one where no one comes at all really, maybe 6 people, and you kinda sit there feeling like a dork in your pretty-ish clothes, travel rumpled and stinking of flop sweat and that awful, unkillable, faint, desperate hope. The signing was 'sposed to be announced on the noon news with a little interview, but I got PRE EMPTED BY THE POPE! That kinda tickles me. It's not every girl who can say, "THE POPE! PRE-EMPTED ME! Anyway, Duff was GREAT and made me feel like not-a-total-failure, and kept me company and assured me the book was selling well at his store and that he had plans to sell the many copies I signed before I left. And assuming NO MORE POPES feel like they need to get elected, the taped interview will run today.

What I Hate: Greenville airport. Especially Kimberly. I hate Kimberly SO much. AND I DO NOT HATE PEOPLE EVER. I generally ACTIVELY LIKE people...but she is evil and petty and mean and a bad person. I spent less than four minutes in her presence, and yet I say this with total confidence: She is no good. When God was passing out the milk of human kindness, she sniffed and said, "No thanks. I am allergic to dairy." Really, I don't think I could dislike STALIN more than Kimberly today. I had to get up at 3:30 and grab a 4 am cab to the airport, and I was SO tired when I got there. I stood in line for 20 minutes trying to check into DELTA before realizing I was booked on another airline, so now late and worried, I RAN down the line dragging my 50 pound luggage and ready to weep at my own stupidity. I had had no coffee. 3 hours of sleep because I COULD NOT fall asleep last night, just lay in the bed missing Scott. SO. I get to the non-Delta other airline, let's call them Air Bogus, and I am so tired I am almost blind. The world is a pinhole of pale gray light to me, and I stand in staring and drooling in line and this woman behind the counter WAY down 5 seats over from where the WAIT HERE sign is, calls to me...and this calling woman, I will tell you, is KIMBERLY-I-HATE. Look at her for a sec, before she speaks. She is pretty and well-put-together and has on cool, efficient lipstick and an even cooler and more efficient smile.

Loathesome vile disgusting evil mean Kimberly-I-Hate: May I help you?
Me: Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves one hand sort of lackadaisicaly at me in a meaningless gesture.) May I HELP you? (MEAN voice, with a parenthetical, YOU MORON. Do you KNOW the parenthetical YOU MORON? It's when someone's tone makes it CLEAR that the proper end of their sentence is YOU MORON, and they DO NOT say it out loud, but it is so PATENTLY obvious that they are THINKING it that the words are PALPABLE, hanging silent and unspoken in the air. My son ---who is 8 and cool and clearly much smarter than his stupid uncool mother--- is the MASTER of the parenthetical you moron, and I am the master of sending his butt to his room with a lecture about manners, but alas, Kimberly-I-hate-forever was CLEARLY not Raised Right.)
Me: Um, but...are you with Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Waves hand again, flipping her arm up to shoulder level and then doing a little finger waggle* May. I. HELP. You. (You moron)
Me: I'm not...Is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the FOURTH time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS. BEFORE she can ask me in an even ruder tone if she can help me, I speak again...) What are you pointing at?
Her: The sign behind me...(you moron)
Me: *drawing self up with gentle but still wounded dignity, meeting her eyes bravely* But you see....... I can't read.
Her: ....oh. Um. OH! I am SO sorry. What an ASS I have been. I have clearly wronged you and I apologize, this IS Air Bogus. May I see your ID please, ma'am?

OKAY THAT LAST PART IS A TOTAL LIE. But wouldn't that have been great??? What a FANTASTIC line, huh??? I CAN'T READ! HA! It would have been just like THAT VERY SPECIAL EPISODE OF BLOSSOM except I would have been LYING. Unfortunately, I only thought of that response ten minutes later when I was randomly seected for special screening and was standing off the side, red-eyed and puffy and sniffling, with my brand-new especial pet pervert watching gleefully from the regular unspecial unscreened line while a nice older lady poked shame-facedly around in my bra. So. Let's rewind and see what really happend...

Me: (for the fourth time) Um...is this Air Bogus?
LVDEMKIH: *Arm lift, finger waggle*: MAY. I. HELP. YOU. (and at this point the parenthetical YOU MORON has been replaced with a parenthetical YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP ON MY SHOE)
Me: Um um but, is this Air Bogus? (I am only halfway through saying it when she begins her armlift, and just as I finish asking for the fourth time, a lightbulb goes off over my head---she is waggling her fingers at a HUGE sign that is RIGHT behind her that says AIR BOGUS, so i said...) Oh, right. I see.
LVDEMKIH: *Sarcastic half-smile, rolls eyes at my obvious and boring stupidity.* May I....HELP you? (you WORTHLESS moron)
Me. *Bursts into tears*

Yup. BURST. RIGHT. INTO. TEARS. Just stood there and wept hopelessly, uncontrollably, dropped my head down and wept and wept. Handed her my ID, schlepped my luggage onto the scales, got my boarding pass, WEEPING WEEPING WEEPING, so so so humiliated to be weeping in public beneath her dry-ice gaze. We did the transaction total silence, and finally, SO emabarrased and out of control, I spoke.

Me: I am sorry. I am just so tired.
Her: *coldly* Pull yourself together. (Parenthetical you moron, eye rolling.)

I crept away, where my suspiciously splotchy faced suicidalness gave me a ticket to the aforedescribed scene, with the random screening and the pervert watching me get felt up.

What do we hate? Say it with me...KIMBERLY.
I swear to the Lord the next time I fly on my own steam, I will give my money to JOHN'S HOUSE OF DISCOUNT HAMSTER-POWERED DEATH-TRAP PLANES before I will hand my credit card to the company that employs Kimberly.

What I Love: My old friend, my beloved old friend from the way back back, Waylon, who rented a hotsy-totsy red sportsmobile and squired me all over and ate with me and took me to parks and who lay around in my hotel room with me watching Game Sow Network and arguing lazily with me about which gameshow host was hotter, Gene or Richard. (um DUH! GENE! OBVIOUSLY.... but then I have always had a weekness for the tall, funny, smart and slightly dorky sort. So.)

What I hate: Kimberly. And crying in public. And Kimberly.

What I love: That a girl---woman now -- that I knew at CORDOVA PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with saw my picture and book in the paper and came to the signing. She and I were like...bus friends. She was a shy and pretty little girl as I recall, very sweet. She is now a less shy, soft-but-well-spoken woman, still pretty, still sweet. She said to me, "I wasn't at all surprised to see you in the paper...you were always so confident and self-assured when we were kids." WHICH...um. I was not. I was a teeming mass of terror and lonliness and desperate longing to be loved, like EVERY OTHER 9 year old. I was just...LOUD. It LOOKED like confidence to her though, and how nice of her to say so...

What I hate: Kimberly.

What I love: The Shrimp and Grits and Soby's in Greenville. If you EVER go to Greenville, GO EAT THAT with a glass of pinot grigio. SERIOUSLY. You have to. It is spicy low-country love in a bowl.

What I hate: Guess.
Hint: It rhymes with Mimberly.

Posted by joshilyn at April 20, 2005 1:45 PM

Poor you! Airline people stink! And speaking as a KIMBERLEY (notice the "E"), I gotta say WE AREN'T ALL THAT BAD. No, really we aren't. (Although if I was WORKING in a smelly airport full of disgruntled passengers (at that hour, mind) I may have been a wee bit snarky.
KimberlEy, who just finished your BOOK and can't stop sobbing onto my files and keyboard. Bravo!

Posted by: FabGirlie at April 20, 2005 2:32 PM

Bit of assvice here: Run, do not walk, to the nearest telephone and call Employs-the-Hateful-Kimberly-Airlines. Explain you have a complaint about a staff member at the Greenville airport and you are going to talk to the highest-up person they can get you. Complain to them about the wench and identify her as precisely as possible. Explain that you will not only never fly them again, you will get everyone you know to boycott them, unless she receieves an official reprimand placed in her personnel file. Then explain that you won't know this happened unless you receive a copy of said letter. Then take all of this, along with the name and contact information of the person you talked to (who by this point will have agreed to just about anything to get you off the phone) and write the president of Employs-the-Hateful-Kimberly-Airlines with all of this same information, along with the contact information of the person you talked to on the phone.

I got an absolute rhymes-with-sandwitch fired from the San Diego airport a couple of years ago for being downright abusive to an older couple and myself. I did everything I detailed here, except I also asked to talk to her supervisor and reported her at the time. Last I saw them, the supervisor was leading her into the back with a very pissed off look on her face.

No, I don't enjoy getting people fired. But when customer service folks are out and out rude, the company needs to know that. Their business is built on customer service, and even if the front-line grunts forget that, the higher-ups remember.

Posted by: Beth at April 20, 2005 2:38 PM

Oh, and just to put my anger in perspective: I'm a librarian who deals with the public on a daily basis; on the phone, via email, and in person (AND I do tech support). I understand the grumpiness factor. But a customer service professional doesn't take that out on the customer. If you need to take a break, take a break.

Posted by: Beth at April 20, 2005 2:41 PM

AMEN, Beth!!! Jos, the next time someone is that rude to you at four a.m. you just call me and put them on the phone. I'm up feeding Sam anyway, getting no sleep, which puts me in the foulest possible mood, which I would be THRILLED to take out on someone who truly deserves it.
So sorry that happened to you!

Posted by: Amy at April 20, 2005 3:12 PM


1. What Beth said.

2. I bet Kimbitcherly has never had her name appear in the Doubleday Book Club's editor's letter as one of the editor's "favorites this month". You have! Spring edition, page 6. HA!

3. I predict Kimbarelyhuman will die bitter and alone, with a twitching left eyelid, stringy hair, and a large festering wart on her nose. And ugly shoes. Karma, you know.

Posted by: DebR at April 20, 2005 4:01 PM

We hate Kimberly!

I stand by Richard as my game show choice...he is the king!

We love Shrimp and grits and stuffed trout and crab cakes at Soby's. We do love that.

Joshilyn looked so pretty in her ensemble that Ann Taylor, if she walked in to the signing, would've stopped and made sketches.

We love Duff at "The Open Book".

We love Joshilyn Jackson. We love "Gods in Alabama".

I miss you.


Posted by: Waylon at April 20, 2005 4:02 PM

Dearest Sweet Joshilyn,

On behalf of all Kimberlys on the planet, I apologize for the obnoxious, non-Kimberly like behavior you encountered.

I suspect its her MIDDLE name: you know like G. Gordon Liddy or, in this case, A. Kimberly Hole.

In general, we're nice bunch...


Posted by: Kimberly (gasp!) at April 20, 2005 5:53 PM

Good Lord. Why couldn't the woman simply have answered your question with a "yes"? Surely that would have been much more effective, not to mention efficient, than repeating her question over and over. Sheesh! I think she'd make an excellent villain for the book that follows Between. You'd probably have to give her character a different name though, Pony Hole, for example.

On a kindlier note, I doff my hat to those chivalrous fellows, Duff and Waylon.

Posted by: David at April 20, 2005 6:57 PM

You know? Not for nothing but what if you weren't just tired? What if you had had (God forbid) a death in your family? What if some horrible tragedy had befallen you? Who lets someone cry in front of them and not utter a single sympathetic word? 3 letters: UOK? That would have been nice.

I think you should use your mad writing skilz to pound out a letter to Air Bogus mentioning (over and over) Kimberly's rudeness. You know what? I hate Kimberly too. And karma is a bitch. That is all I have to say about that ;-)

Posted by: Em at April 20, 2005 8:41 PM

Oh honey. The fact that you apologized to Kimberley for crying makes me want to pet your hair and feed you.
We all wish to kick her in her shins.

Posted by: Kira at April 21, 2005 1:12 AM

I have had a Kimberly too, and it was a miserable experience. Why do these vicious attack humans always know when you are at your lowest? Oh, that's right - they are bullies, with all the cowardice that implies. Pbblllttt to them.

Posted by: Jensgalore at April 21, 2005 8:19 AM

Bitch! Kimberly is a BITCH! I couldn't imagine waiting on a person who is crying in front of me and telling them to pull themselves together. She is just oozing with compassion. Well, you know what? You are someone and she is no one. Sucks to be her! You rock! Hang in there, luckily the whole world isn't like Kimberly.

Posted by: Peek at April 21, 2005 8:25 AM

{{{{Joshilyn}}}} There is a Special Hell's Own Hell for Kimberly, where one tireless Jos-impersonator asks her, "Is this Air Bogus?" and she is required to smile sweetly and say, "It is. Sit down here, honey, and I'll rub your feet and Gene will bring you coffee and scones. We'll hold the plane" over and over into eternity. If she messes up, rabid hamsters with poopy bottoms will run up her legs and attach themselves all over her body, breathing like Darth Vader.

Just wanted to give you a better mental picture of Kimberly.

Posted by: Jill K at April 21, 2005 9:54 AM

Okay, waving at a sign in response to someone's spoken question? That's rude. And evil. HATE Kimberly with a HATING HATE that knows no bounds. Ugh. Dealing with the public can be difficult, but the last time I checked, having a difficult job did not equal a free pass for being an evil wench.

Posted by: Aimee at April 21, 2005 10:59 AM

Awww.. Poor Pluffy!!!! Lets find her and smack her in the ass!!!

Posted by: Goldie (Sharon) at April 21, 2005 11:15 AM

Bwahahahahah at the Can't Read line. I ALWAYS do that (think up witty comebacks after the fact). Maybe, when you are here next week, we can get this book ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446675776/ref=wl_it_dp/103-8645866-2079002?%5Fencoding=UTF8&coliid=I22WWHCX2MZLAX&v=glance&colid=2OMA96574D4LQ ) and study it. *snicker*

I grew up in SC (Columbia) but have only been to Greenville once, I think. My stepsister used to live there. Anywho, rotorooter has just arrived to keep me from babbling on forever in your comments.

Posted by: Heather at April 21, 2005 3:19 PM

Good news: I am a psychic. Therefore, I am fully qualified to reveal to you a peek into the true life world of Kimberly the Hate-Monger, so that you may see the natural superiority and immensely higher quality of your own life, and your intrinsically More Important Place In The World than the odious and worm-like Kimberly Whom We Hate.

Kimberly: *pastes on cold smile* Next please!

Weary Traveler: I see by the sign above your head that this is Air Bogus.

Kimberly: *wordless sneer of condescencion*

Weary Traveler: Is that a yes?

Kimberly: May. I. Help. You? *unvoiced sigh of exasperation*

Weary Traveler: Indeed you may. I have here many many pieces of luggage to check-in, very heavy they are, and also I need to get my boarding pass. I paid online and I have 3 minutes to make my flight. Can you please help me catch that flight?

Kimberly: *gleeful sneer* I don't think you could possibly catch that flight, sir (you moron)

Weary Traveler: I realize this may be difficult, but I simply MUST get on that plane. It is the last one today to get back to my country, and if I do not make it, I will be unable to avert the civil war that is brewing by bringing them the good news. Please, miss, this is vital.

Kimberly: *audible sniff and severely condescending look* I'm sorry, sir, but you've waited far too long. You will be unable to make your flight.

Weary Traveler: But, ma'am, I was delayed by the sobbing of the woman three people ahead of me that you brutalized. If perhaps you had simply treated her with respect, the line would have been moving more quickly, and I could have made this flight.

Kimberly: *rolls eyes* May I help you sir?

Weary Traveler: *with great dignity* Perhaps you could have. But you chose not to. *walks away sadly, valet towing luggage behind, to another airline counteer, trying to find another flight*

Later that night....

Kimberly props her jackboots up on the scarred-up coffe table and swigs directly from her daily bottle of Cuervo Gold Tequila, flipping through TV channels, and happens to see the news update on CNN...

This just in.. civil war has broken out in Eastern Europe again, as dissidents, expecting an answer to their demsnds from the current administration this afternoon, began car bombings at the silence they received instead. A senior government official had this to say, "We worked it all out, I know we did. We drew up the documents and they only awaited the signature of the Cabinet before implementation..if only they would have waited one more day..now we cannot give in, or it will be caving in to terrorists." The rebels could not be reached for comment. We go now to Rhett Lively for a statement from the White House.

"Thank you, Jim. We are just in time to hear the official release...

"Ladies and gentelmen, we are sorry for the plight of all of Eastern Europe. Some here may be unaware of the current situation in that area. After intense negotiations, we had helped arrange a compromise that could have not only brought a lasting peace to the entire region, but also have been advantageous for the U.S. in bringing a huge new influx of oil reserves. We would have been able to buy oil from these peaceful nations at a fraction of the cost of what we are paying now, taking away the grip of power held by many Middle-Eastern tyrants, and of course lowering the price of gasoline considerably. However, now with these renewed hostilities, this bright new hope has receded from our grasp indefinitely."

This newscast is abruptly interrupted by the sound of ferocious pounding on the odious Kimberly's door. "Open up! National Security!"

Kimberly drops the bottle of Cuervo in a panic and dithers around until her door is knocked down. She stands there shivering in fright as cold-eyed agents hold her at gunpoint as they ransack her apartment looking for evidence of sabotage. Later she sobs as hard-eyed, unsympathetic female agents with poker faces strip search her and treat her to a body-cavity search in a coldly clinical interrogation room. About 36 hours later, having undergone numerous searches and intense interrogations, aided by massive sleep-deprivation, Kimberly is released on lack of evidence. The agents that expel her bodily onto the street sneer condescendingly as they advise that she look for work in a field other than that involving customer service in the future.

Needless to say, Kimberly is not treated very warmly when she returns to work. They have her last paycheck waiting for her, and a complete lack of expression on her bosses' face, as she is informed that no letter of recommendation will be forthcoming.

See? Think of how much better your life is than that... :)

Posted by: hiai at April 21, 2005 7:27 PM

I love to take Kimberly types down a few notches...I also admit that I can be a petty wench when faced with that kind of behavior. If I had been in your shoes, I'd have pulled out that full-page ad from Sunday's NYTimes book review section...that big ol' full-color one on the inside front cover with YOUR NAME in it...and I would have oh so casually placed it on her counter, looked down at it, back up at her and in my snottiest voice asked, "One more time...is this Bogus Airlines?"

Congratulations on #17! I picked up your book a few days ago at a Barnes & Noble in Portland (we were traveling). Here's hoping you've gotten your one 'no one showed up' signing out of the way and that all of the rest of them will be smashing successes!

Posted by: Marilyn at April 22, 2005 9:23 PM


I was ROFLMBO ("I can't Read!" LOL) until I got to the what-really-happened part. I cannot believe anybody in customer service would be so STUPID and MEAN as to say "Pull yourself together." Honestly, you should report her to her manager. Better still, follow Beth's advice. You didn't do anything wrong; she was WAY out of line.

Umm...hmmm, that turned into a tirade. What I meant to say was, I'm really sorry you didn't fly Delta.

But either way, Marilyn's right. K'hole is...hello!...working in customer service for an airline, dealing with cranky travelers most of the time and genuinely beautiful and important-but-stressed authors once in a while. And you? You're an important Author! About to Go Somewhere! :::thumbing my nose at Kimberly::::

Posted by: Katrina Stonoff at April 23, 2005 10:08 PM