"Yes, it's at the stop before this one right now," I responded. I was impressed that: 1) she knew there was an app with which to check the current location of the bus, and 2) that she'd guessed correctly that that was what I was looking at.
There were a lot of ads on this morning's bus, probably the most I've ever seen on one bus—one after the other: Zumba classes, Artem's Angels, GoPass, Conserving Electricity, Medication Recycle, the Wolfline #2 Hillsborough Street Bus, the Wolfline Sports Channel, a breathalyser app, Follow Wolfline On Facebook, and the Atrium Remodeling Project. And that was only on one side of the bus. There were as many on the other side.
At 10:00, I had my cursor on the "Place order now" link on the official Adele website, where the tickets for her concert in Durham at the DPAC on October 8th were going on sale starting at 10:00 on the dot. Of course, the website hung, and at one point timed out. Don't ask me why you would make the whole world hit a website at a certain time, and then not have it on a server that can handle the load. Ridamndiculous.
That aside, I got through pretty quickly, within the first minute, and locked in four (the maximum you can buy at once) tickets to buy. After putting in all my credit card information and clicking on "Submit," I got a message that said my credit card company did not approve my transaction. WTF?
I thought I must have had some information wrong, and I tried four more times, desperate to keep the session from timing out and losing my four seats. Each time I got the same message, and while filling out the form the fifth time, my cell phone rang.
"This is the fraud department at Ameriprise Financial Mastercard. Someone is trying to charge on your card in the UK (Adele's website is out of the UK), and we just want to make sure it's you making the charge."
I assured her it was me, and she thanked me for calling. I tried the transaction one more time and it did the same thing, so I figured Mastercard wouldn't approve the transaction unless I canceled this one and made a new one, which I was not about to do for fear of losing the seats I had.
Having no other credit card that I use actively, the only thing I could think to try was a Visa Check Card that I have from the State Employees Credit Union, which I've only ever used to get money out of the ATM with. I had no idea if it could act as a credit card, but again, desperate to keep the session from timing out, I keyed in that information, which much to my amazement it took.
I really wanted to put that charge on my Mastercard, though, as I get reward points on that card and the total purchase price of this transaction was significant enough to get the points for. Oh well.
That out of the way, I called the Island House resort in Key West to schedule Joe's and my return there in September to get our three free days, which we got as part of a special when we went in April. I reserved both my room and Joe's on my card, as you have to pay a down payment at reservation time.
"Mr. Martin, do you have another card? Those transactions were not approved by your credit card company."
GRRRRRRR! Another $300 with of charges had to go on my credit union Visa card, and 300 more lost points. Although, I explained to the person what had happened with my card, and he said that once it's all straightened out, I can call back and he'll credit the down payments on my Visa and charge them to the Mastercard. So, that's good.
As soon as I hung up from there, my phone rang again.
"Mr. Martin? This is the fraud department with the State Employees Credit Union. We're seeing a lot of activity on your Visa card—one transaction in the UK and another two just now in Key West, and we want to make sure you're the one making these charges."
People! Would you please just let me spend my money??? I do it so rarely. Let me have a little fun.
I assured her that yes, it was me, and explaining that I've never used that card as a credit card before, I wondered if I was going to get a statement at the end of the month to pay these charges, or what. She explained to me that although you can use it like a credit card, it's really a debit card, and those charges would just be subtracted right away out of my checking account.
As soon as we hung up, I logged into my credit union account online, and transferred $1000 from my savings account into my checking account, before I got a "Mr. Martin, this is the credit union and you've had an overdraft" call.
I had one more transaction to make, which was to reschedule my Chicago flight that's for tomorrow morning, as I'm not going to Chicago to meet Joe as planned, since his mother died on Sunday, and he's leaving Chicago to fly to Pennsylvania for the weekend for her funeral.
I knew this was going to involve another credit card charge, so I called back to the Ameriprise Mastercard people first, and asked them how long it was going to take before my card could be used again. Turned out they forgot to take the hold off it earlier when I'd called to confirm that it was me making that UK purchase.
Now, the whole reason I took care of that resort reservation is that today was the last day that I could make a change to these tickets for my Chicago flight, which I made through Travelocity, and I wanted to change them to the flight to go to that resort. I knew I would have to pay (up to) $180 for a change fee, and then pay any amount that my new tickets might be over what I paid for the Chicago flight tickets.
I'd done my homework and had found a flight on Delta that came out to about $20 less than what I'd paid for the Chicago flight, so that meant I should only have to pay the change fee and nothing else.
Armed and ready with Travelocity on the phone, I got transferred to "Sam" in India. He said, "Before we make the change, I want to review the conditions for a change with you." He repeated the two I just stated, and then stated two more: "They have to be issued under the same name as the original tickets, and they must be used on the same airlines as the original tickets."
Uh-oh. Problem. My original tickets were on American from here to Chicago and on United coming back. And of course, this great flight I have all figured out to Key West that I want to exchange it for, is a round-trip on Delta. Grrrrr! I mean, really, paying a $180 change fee, don't you think you ought to be able to do whatever the hell you need to do to make the change? No, by all means, rip me two new assholes instead of just the one.
I have to give "Sam" credit though, he tried to do everything he could to get me to Key West and back with one leg on American and one leg on United. However, I had already checked that myself, and I knew that with my Delta ticket, my flight duration (with a short layovers in Atlanta) was about 3.5 hours each way. On American and United it was going to be five hours going and nine hours returning, with one stop in Tampa and another in Newark, before arriving at RDU. No can do.
At this point in the call, he said, "If you're sure you're not going to go on this trip tomorrow..." and at which point I interrupted him and said, "I'm definitely not going on this trip tomorrow; that' s certain. I was going to visit a friend there, but he's having to go out of town for his mother's funeral now, so he won't even be there."
I then told him that I was planning two other trips before the end of the year, and at that point he said, "Well, why don't you just keep this ticket to use for one of those trips when you're ready to book them?" which I didn't realize I could do.
"Yes, you'll pay the change fee now, and the tickets can then be re-issued within a year of the original issue date. So at your leisure, when you're next traveling, you can get on Travelocity.com and try to find a route with one leg on American and the other on United, and then call us back and we'll re-issue this ticket."
This was a relief to hear, as I just wanted to get off the damn phone and be done with all this at this point. After making the change to the ticket, and after saying, "Thank you for calling Travelocity today," he added, "Oh. Mr. Martin, I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge your friend's funeral earlier when you mentioned it. I'm sorry for his loss."
I thought that was about the sweetest way he could have possibly ended this call, and rest assured he'll get very high marks when I no doubt get a survey from Travelocity in the next day or two asking about today's customer service experience.
As soon as we hung up, I got on the Delta website and went ahead and booked that flight I'd found for the Key West trip, as it was in the low $300 and when Joe and I went back in April, we couldn't get a flight out of RDU for less than $500, and we ended up driving 2.5-hours to Charlotte to catch flights to and from there for the low $300s.
When I arrived at the city bus stop at the end of my day, the bus driver was off the bus, killing time on his phone until it was time to leave, and he left the bus door open while doing so. I took this picture, gave it this caption, posted it on Facebook, and enjoyed the discussion that ensued about it:
When that bus left, I was the only person left at the stop, until a guy came up and after being there a couple of minutes asked, "Excuse me, did you see the 12 go by yet?"
"No, I'm waiting for the 12."
"Oh, you're waiting for the 12?"
"Yes, I am."
On the bus, I took an empty seat behind a window that was cracked, and when I tried to close it to keep the 100+° temperature out, it wouldn't close.
As I was heading out the door to go dancing, Carl called and asked me if I would stop on the way and pick up a pack of Pall Mall Orange 100s for him, which I did.
Dancing was fun enough tonight. We had a good many dancers, there were very few non-dancers in the bar, and the Indy crossword puzzle was hard as f*ck.