I was trying on swimsuits in the fall and this saleswoman commented, zeh hai! I, thinking she’d noticed my accent and like so many before her, was trying to speak English, heard / interpreted it as "high". I thought maybe she was referring to the leg openings (high-cut?). So I asked what she meant and she said חי! zeh malèi hayìm! As in, lively, full of life! I felt bad, as I hadn't meant to mimic her; I honestly didn't understand what she was trying to tell me.
So, she was about my age. Which means if she wasn't born here, she certainly came as a child (early 1960s), and most assuredly came before the age of 22, which is the age at which I started learning Hebrew; whereas presumably Hebrew is her native tongue. So how come it's my accent that gets mocked? No one would dream of mocking hers, at least not in her presence.
And yet, just a few days ago, a woman sat at my breakfast table, mimicking the American accent, exaggerating her reish [equivalent of our “r” that Americans are known for not being able to pronounce properly] without compunction. What gives?
Guess which industry has me riled. You know the one I mean: The only industry which, if they don’t deliver on their product — due to malfunction or faulty service — they owe you exactly nothing: no refund, no replacement, no credit. If you guessed airlines, you’d be right. And yet we all accept it as a given. If we complain, we’re told “FAA regulations”, effectively closing the conversation. Click. Line goes dead.
The thing that has me riled more than anything, though, is the hundreds of dollars they charge us not for cancellations, but to change dates or times on the same route. You know: The ones they refer to as "penalties", as if we've done something wrong and deserve to be punished? In the electronic age, it’s inexcusable: The airline has assigned you a locator code that refers to all your particulars, including your credit card information. Using that code, then, why is it not possible to change flights the same way you choose seats, i.e., you’re shown a seating chart of the flight you want to change to, you pick a seat, and you’re on. Your seat on your previous flight is automatically freed up, and so forth. The airline still has your money; you’re still taking up one seat. What in this process costs anywhere from $150 to $2,000?
And here’s another one that confounds me, given our digital capabilities: On a multi-city route, if you don’t show up for a particular leg (let’s say you’ve decided to drive or take a train instead), the subsequent legs are CANCELLED. That’s right. Even if you notify the airline in advance that you’ll be a no-show. Even if you don’t ask for a single cent of refund. Even though they’ll almost assuredly be able to fill that seat, thus earning two fares for a single seat. Their explanation: Their software isn’t capable of cancelling one leg of a trip. Oh really? I have a feeling that one phone call to any junior high in the Western hemisphere and a 12-year-old geek could solve that one in a matter of hours.
And while they’re at it, why not take those hundreds of dollars-multiplied-by-thousands-of-passengers in change fees and buy some faster computers? For all the buck$ we pay you guys, your machines are notoriously slow. I could’ve written a novel in the time I’ve spent waiting for your customer representatives to change my flights, in addition to the change fees I’ve had to pay. Talk about highway robbery: Now we have skyway robbery, and I’ve reserved a special room in hell for the lot of you. See how much good your change fees’ll do you there.