Monday, August 15, 2005

On Assignment: Sherman, Texas-Day One

"Unicard" by Wes Aldridge

For all of those who think us traveling fellas back in the photo department have simply got it made... let me share a little day in Photo Hell with you. I mean to make you laugh and its meant with a grain of salt in some points, but today honeslty really blew.

Being the good little traveling photog that I am, I get to the Nashville airport about two hours ahead of my flight this morning. I get to the ticketing counter and the Midwest Airlines ticketing agent tells me that my ticket hasn't been paid for. I stand there stunned for a few seconds while I stare at the printed online reciept that our accounting department gave me. One key phrase really jumped off the page at me: "This is your reciept. Thank you for your purchase." After arguing with the guy for a few minutes, he told me to call my company and double check. That would be great if it weren't 7:15 a.m. and anyone was actually at our office at that time. So, I have to disturb the bossman on his cell. Sure he appreciated that one. Anywho, he told me he would work on it and try to get something figured out about it. In the meantime, I proceed to argue with the ticket agent. I ended up fighting with him for 45-minutes, when he finally got someone from the reservations department on the phone at Midwest. He then said, "Oh, ok, you're fine." I almost lost it, but kept cool and just cursed the guy under my breath for his incompetency. I said thanks and headed on my way.

I get to the gate and make a few calls to schedule photo appointments and about 20-minutes before my scheduled departure time, the voice came over the loudspeaker and said there will be a slight delay with my flight. My curiousity go the best of me and I had to ask the Midwest reps how long the delay was expected to run. They said, "Oh, about one-and-a-half hours. Shoot me. I do the time and finally get on the plane.

I get to Milwaukee for my connection where I have about a two-and-a-half hour layover. Come to find out, this flight is delayed too. So, I was in Milwaukee for close to four hours. My flight finally departs in route to Dallas-Ft. Worth. Wouldn't you know it, a jolly little child kicked the immortal crap out of my seat from behind for the entire trip.

I land at DFW and go through the normal "find the carousel with your bags" fiasco amongst a horde of people. Then, off to find the rental car counter... which is in a remote location from the airport. I board a shuttle with all my gear and luggage, packed like sardines in the standing room only bus, and kill another 15 minutes with the trip to the rental car location. When I get there, the waiting line wasn't too bad... only about 12 people in front of me. When I get to the counter, I identify myself and the rental clerk tells me there are no more of our company's standardly requested "mid-size" cars available. Thats funny how that works out sometimes. You make a reservation for a particular kind of car and then, I'll be damned if they just won't have one. I thought that was the whole point of a reservation, to guarantee what you want.

So the guy says to me, I can put you in a mini-van. I look him dead in the eyes and say, "Are you joking me? No, that isn't going to fly here." He fumbled around a bit and told me for $10 extra per day he could put me in an SUV. I said, 'Aren't you supposed to upgrade me for free if my car I reserved isn't here." He got this look on his face. Then said he would go ahead and put me in the SUV at no additional charge. Did he really think I was a complete idiot and that he could take advantage of me like that? What a jerk. I get the Suzuki wagon-thing and here is where the day really starts to suck.

I was driving through the dead center of Dallas en route to Sherman (about an hour and 20 minutes from the airport) in stop and go rush hour traffic. And then, it happened. The guy in front of me stopped and you guessed it, accident time. That was the last thing I needed today at 5:30 p.m. I was pretty shook-up, but I didn't get hurt and the only thing wrong with my SUV was a bent front license plate. The other two cars were a different story. Insurance information, yada yada, you know the drill.

I finally get into Sherman around 7:30 p.m. and try to find a map so I can shoot something at sunset. Huge black storm clouds roll over and I didn't get anything.

After a day like today, the only things I wanted right now were dinner and a Miller Lite. Buffalo Wild Wings surely had both. I go in and ask for my beer and the server asked if I had a Unicard? I asked her what the hell that was. Well, in Sherman it isn't enough if you have valid photo ID to have an adult beverage, you also have to fill out a card with your name, address, telephone number, etc., called a Unicard. It seems to be some form of evil extension devised by the Patriot Act, I am sure. Well I happily obliged and played the little game. I had my much needed Miller Lite and as you see above, I now have my very own Unicard to allow me to have a beer in the city of Sherman, Texas.

Thank God this day is over. I wasted the entire day traveling, no photography at all. What a totally screwed away day. A few more like this one and I might just laugh out loud.