Saturday, February 16, 2002

Phone Bill

I enjoyed having my laptop with me on this trip. I could check my e-mail and read news stories on the web from the comfort of my hotel room and not waste time during the day or have to go out to an Internet café. I checked the phone to see if there was a per-call charge, but there was no indication of that there or in the guest services directory. They have to post that sort of thing, so I figured I was OK. However, just in case there was a per-call charge, I would stay connected rather than disconnecting and making multiple calls.

Oops. When I went to check out today, I found out that the charge was $.75/call+$.10/minute beyond 15 minutes. I had quite a substantial charge on my bill. When I protested that the rates were not posted anywhere, they offered to cut the bill in half for me. I figured that was reasonably fair -- since it was probably close to what I would have used if I had known the rate structure. You know -- if you make 4 15-minute calls, it's $3, but 1 60-minute call is $5.25. Also, I would not have left the connection up while I was in the shower and such. Actually, I probably would have spent far less than half the money, but I'm really not thrilled with arguing with people about stuff like this. I'll know if I stay there next time. And I guess the next time I bring my laptop, I'll double check what the charges are in advance.

Airport Insecurity

This time when I traveled, my bag was crammed full of all sorts of gizmos. I had to take out the laptop to go through the X-ray separately, but there remained my CD-rom drive, cell phone, GPS receiver, digital camera and assorted cables. So when it took a little bit longer to come out of the X-ray machine, I was not surprised. The security screener asked if I had something like a belt buckle in there. I shrugged, since I have no idea what looks like a belt buckle when x-rayed. The connector for the CD-ROM? Who knows? She asked if she could look through my bag, and I waited patiently.

And waited. She looked through someone else's bag and then wandered off. It was tempting to just walk away. I mean, they seemed to have forgotten about me. Then again, I could see that this was the sort of thing that gets terminals evacuated. They'd turn around to look for me, I'd be gone, and we'd all be on the cover of Newsweek. (Or at least a story on CNN.) So I kept waiting, until finally I got fed up and called out, "Excuse me -- you said you wanted to search my bag." At this point, the woman turned around and said, "No, that bag's OK." Now, maybe I had just misunderstood what she was asking me -- although someone who was there at the same time interpreted things the same way. But I think I have a better understanding of these intermittent incidents where somebody "slips through security" -- the security person gets distracted, the traveler has no idea what's going on & figures it's OK to leave. Oh, well; at least it worked out, and I'm on my flight to Chicago right now.

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