Sunday, February 14, 2010

We See What We Want to See

I have been on a potentially masochistic trend lately - reading about how humans are more irrational, less perceptive, and not nearly as clever as we believe ourselves to be. Of course, by "humans," I mean every living member of the species Homo Sapiens other than yours truly. I of course would never be fooled by mere parlor tricks, bamboozled by a grifter's flim-flam, and fail to apply anything other than the keenest of senses and intellect to every endeavor I deign to undertake.

Of course, it's Sunday, the day traditionally set aside, by Christians at least, as a day of rest in which we do not allow worldly concerns to sully our spiritual uplift. In any case, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I'm at the Minneapolis Airport, returning from a short trip, or at least what was intended as a short trip. I flew in Thursday, February 11, and made arrangements for a return trip today, February 14. Or that's what I thought I had done.

One of my cardinal rules is, if something seems wrong, it probably is. Not having bothered to check on my reservation last night, I wondered why I had not received a text message from American Airlines this morning informing me of the status of my flight. Oh well, I decided, I'll figure it out when I get to the airport. Of course, the airport was the site of my next bad indicator - the self-service check-in did not have my reservation.

I went to the counter, which was mercifully uncrowded, to discover that my return flight was scheduled not for February 14, as originally intended, but for March 14, as was CLEARLY STATED on my reservation confirmation. In other words, not only had I input my flight request incorrectly, I had failed to catch my error either on the PC screen or on my printout!

Fortunately, this story of sheer ridiculous ineptitude on my part has a happy ending. Thanks to wonderful customer service from the airline (is that an oxymoron?), not only was my error corrected, and at no cost, but my flight schedule was rearranged so that I may actually arrive back in New York much earlier than I had originally expected.

Okay, so what lessons can we draw from today's events, class? First, as Ronald Reagan said, trust, but verify. Try to look at everything with fresh eyes. It's probably impossible, and exhausting even if it were possible, but errors can creep up anywhere and anytime, and they probably do.,

Furthermore, it might actually be better to be dumb and lucky than smart. After all, if I had checked on my reservation last night and actually caught the error, I would have spent countless hours in a potentially futile effort to correct things. In this case, I was able to deal with the desk agent face-to-face - no virtual customer service here! - and it was resolved with dispatch. A final caveat however, while being dumb and lucky may occasionally work out to my benefit, I would not count on it as a strategy for life!

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