It’s been 3 years since I’ve flown out of Traverse City. Today, that aged memory was refreshed, and I once more remember, in vivid detail, why I so often choose to fly out of Grand Rapids instead. It’s really nothing against T.C., but rather because most flights out of T.C. connect in Chicago. Chicago often has weather delays, and once they get behind, it only gets worse.
Upon arrival at Cherry Capital airport, I learned my flight was delayed 15 minutes. I checked in, pulled out the book (The Pelopennesian Wars) I had brought along for just such an occasion and started reading. We got word that O’Hare was completely halted until further notice. The delay grew from 15 minutes to an hour, then two, and we finally left for Chicago at 4:30.
I had since re-booked on a later flight out of ORD which was scheduled for a 4:50 boarding and 5:10 departure. I arrived in ORD at 4:45, checked the gate status for my flight (gate C23, on-time), and then hauled tail across two concourses to get to my plane which would be fully boarded by the time I arrived at the gate.
Upon arrival, I learned my flight was delayed 1 hour 25 minutes. Sigh. So, I decided to call ahead and inform Ricardo & Paulette of my new flight info. I pulled out my trusty calling card and tried to place a call. I was greeted by a, “Sorry, you do not have enough minutes left….” message. This was not a problem I had only to call the 800 number on the back and recharge it.
I called and learned a new and useful fact, calling cards expire. Mine in particular (AT&T @ $0.035/min) expires after two years. I can still use the remaining minutes, but I can no longer recharge the card. This is terribly unfortunate, as I had long since memorized the card number.
My next logical step was to use coins in a payphone, so I traded a $10 bill for some change and tried placing my call when I learned something else new. Some payphones are “local only”. That means that if you happen to be standing in front of one of these phones with quarters in hand, you cannot use this phone to place a long distance call. How irritating. I finally resorted to calling an operator who shared that revelation to me.
Since I had already tried several phones, I asked the operator how I should proceed. His helpful response was, “try a different phone”. I asked how to identify a local versus long distance capable phone. He replied that I would need to read the instructions on the phone and see if it had long distance instructions. I replied that the phone I was currently using did in fact have long distance dialing instructions. After this I didn’t bother pushing the matter, as it wasn’t likely to be fruitful.
After trying a few more phones with similar results, I finally resorted to asking a kind person to allow me place a call with his cell phone.