I got an e-mail from my manager on Friday last week, just as I was writing in with my vacation request. Guess what? Our main Voice-over-IP guy will be out the entire month of October on sabbatical. The week ending the 10th is when his back-up will be out for training in San Jose on a course that he desperately needs. Naturally this course is only is held twice a year, once in fall and once in spring, and we can't wait for spring to roll around again. This leaves me as the tertiary engineer in charge of VoIP issues, which means I absolutely must be available while the other two guys are out of the office.
I knew I was screwed as soon as I saw that e-mail, but I tried to bargain with management anyways.
I was presented with a choice: since VoIP is not officially on my list of job responsibilities my manager (and his manager, since he had to go running to RL for "guidance" on this matter) made it clear that I don't have to stay for the 10th, that support could be garnered from a consulting firm. Of course there's a catch. It was unspoken but plain as day that there is a tradeoff here... by actually taking them up on their "allowance" I'd be shooting myself in the foot -- I would never get the promotion that I've been bucking for over these last five months. My supervisor suggested that I stay as a gesture of goodwill, something that would make his job easier when he tried to put me in for the new title. I spent a good half an hour talking to my manager directly about it and the phrase he repeated over and over again (like a looping tape) was "You should have put in your vacation request first." I guess he's never had to book his own air fare before, or he'd know that's nothing but a pipe dream. When dealing with airplane ticket sales there's only one rule: by the time a vacation request would be approved/disapproved the seats on all the flights would have been gone or the sale would have been over. I knew this when I made the reservations, and I took a calculated risk. Unfortunately when I took my risk I had to roll the dice and this time I rolled a one. Somehow I'm not surprised, it's about par for the course.
So having been presented with this choice-that-is-not-a-choice I decided to swallow whatever fees Travelocity could throw at me and reschedule my flight. After speaking with Amy it was agreed that I'd push my visit back a week. Under the new plan I'd fly out to Seattle on the 17th instead of the 10th and return to Chicago on the 20th. I called up Travelocity, got into the customer service queue and started trying to change things. I had no idea how bad it was going to be, but I couldn't imagine them being all that bad, right? Hah! First off, American wants $130 to change or cancel the tickets. That's over half of what I already paid! On top of that change fee I have to pay the difference between my ticket value and whatever the value is of the flight I'm trying to change it to. I paid approximately $208 for my tickets on the 10th, and the flight on the 17th was $308. So guess what? On top of the $220 I'd laid down already I would have to pay another $240. I had little choice, so I told the representative I would suck it up and eat the extra $240, and that she should go ahead and book my flight. I was placed on hold and sat there for five minutes... and when the voice came back on the line I was told the reservation came back "unconfirmed." I had no idea what that meant, so I asked if I could have that clarified. "Sir, it means there's no available reservations in that class of service," I was told. So, basically, they can't get me a seat on that flight for that price -- American won't let them.
So I'm left wondering what to do at this point. I can't really do any other traveling in October beyond the dates I had already tried because I have various work and family obligations that need to be fulfilled. November has yet more obligations and December is right out for reasons that should be intuitively obvious. Thus I'm left with a $220 ticket that'll cost me $130 to cancel. Travelocity tried to make me feel better about this cancellation fee by telling me that if I pay the $130 then they'll give me a credit of $220 (the price of the unusable tickets) towards another ticket with the same airline within the next year. Well whoop-dee-doo. I think I'll just write the money off and call it a bust. Why sink another $130 into it just so I can get a "credit" that I may or may not use in the next 12 months? I'm not a fan of "sunk costs," I don't believe that I should keep throwing money in the hole simply because "I've already put this much in so it won't matter if I put just a little more in." No, that's just plain wrong thinking. I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and cut my losses. I'm tired of hemorrhaging money, and if I have to give up $220 so that I don't lose another $130 then I guess that's what I'll have to do.
The absolute pisser of this whole deal is that Amy just pointed out a promotional sale from Southwest Airlines. It seems they've got a big deal going on where their tickets to/from Chicago Midway Airport are $79. I jumped over to the site in a hurry when she told me, figuring hey... for the price of canceling the old ticket with American I can just get new tickets with Southwest and the trip would still be on. I was able to get a flight out to Seattle on the 17th, but couldn't get anything back to Midway on the 20th without paying a significantly higher fare. Boom. Shot down again, throw that idea right out the window.
So there you have it.... no mini-vacation for me. Needless to say I'm not feeling at the top of my game round about now... this development has left me sort of emotionally confused. I was very excited about the prospect of getting away from Illinois for more than a day or two. I was excited at the chance to see my friend aynjel and I wanted to spend time with Amy so I could just do dumb tourist things like go sight-seeing and visit the zoo. I won't be doing any of those things now and the dent left in my wallet from the tickets simply adds insult to my injury. I suppose I should be upset, furious or something but I am not. Right now all I feel is tired and numb. I'm utterly burned out on emotion and it would seem I have nothing more to give. So all I can do is just sort of shake my head at the futility of it all and feel .... nothing.
The best-laid plans of mice and men, right? I imagine it is a good thing I wasn't flying somewhere exotic like Mexico or Hawaii because then I would have really lost my ass on the tickets.
You got no one to blame but yourself