Sunday, April 12, 2015

I like the Metro Blue Line

Saturday started out as a good day.  I played golf, the back nine with a good friend Dick Wittkop, and it was a glorious morning.  I birdied the first and last holes, won breakfast from Dick, all in all a good start to the day.  Chris and I had planned to go to the USC spring football scrimmage at the Coliseum slated to start at 3 o'clock.  She suggested we take the Metro line up there as it drops you off right at USC and a short walk across the street and you're there.  So we boarded the train at 1:30.

Now I loved taking the Metro when I was in culinary school.  Colorful characters, interesting scenery along the way.   It goes through the toughest areas of our fair city.  Compton, Watts, the Willowbrook district.  All the while you feel safe behind the thick glass and gleaming steel of the Blue Line.  On the weekends, seniors can ride one way for $.35 cents.  Awesome!  What we weren't told was that many of the stations along the route are under renovation.  We had to exit the train at Compton Station.  Ugh.  Then we had to catch an express metro bus that would drop us off at the Florence Station, four stations up the line.  Re-enter the Metro and speed our way up to downtown.

Chris said, lets just go back and get the car and drive.  Nope!  I was committed and besides, we had already paid our $.70 cents.  We boarded a big, long bus and then the people kept coming....and coming.  Standing room only.  Very young, very old, homeless, teens and every ethnicity.  Although, we were most definitely the minority.  What started out as an ok ride became a nightmare.  One girl was upset because people were "touching" her and she was yelling and swearing like a sailor.  Sitting behind us was her mother, who was coughing up a lung, kept telling her to shut up.  Chris offered the mother a cough drop, she took it and kept yelling at her daughter.  A teen high on something kept standing up and sitting down.  Removing and replacing his very dirty T-shirt and swearing.  N words were flying out of his mouth like machine gun fire.  This was not good.

We got to Florence and decided...lets go back and get the car.  We re-entered another bus that wasn't the express and stopped at the four stations we had passed coming up to the Florence station and it was worse.  Much worse.  Traffic was bad, people coming and going and again, we felt very much the minority.  Finally we got back to the Compton station and rode the train back to Wardlow station and picked up our car.  It was now 4 o'clock, two and one half hours later.

We went and had martini's and appetizers at a good restaurant, Delius, and read about the spring football scrimmage Sunday morning.

I used to like the Metro Blue Line.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A long overdue Italy follow-up.

Some of you may have wondered how our stolen and lost credit card escapade came out.  Some of you may not care.

Having gone through literally hours on our cell phone to credit card companies, our cell carrier Verizon and the hotel we stayed at in the last few days in Rome, there is some closure to a few items and a few items left hanging.

Although credit cards indicate "free international collect calls" they fail to mention you have to pay roaming charges.  One call alone was 59 minutes and cost $98 dollars.  Most of that time spent on hold.  Our roaming charges were over $500 dollars calling free international collect calls.
Verizon, although not very sympathetic, did cut our bill in half.  Thank you.

With no luck talking to representatives from Hawaiian MasterCard/Barclays regarding just about everything that occurred, we wrote a letter.  A nice registered letter to the president of the company.  Explaining what happened, wallet stolen, lost credit cards, replacement card never reaching us, canceling the replacement card, extra hotel nights we had not planned for, having a hold put on our account that we were not aware of and a sundry of other items like promised call backs (never happened), promised miles, did not happen, etc, etc...etc.

After about 10 days, we received a voice message from the "office of the president" telling us they received our letter and wanted to speak with us.  After a few rounds of tag, we spoke with Amanda.  Now Amanda got it.  She told us she listened to all the tapes of our calls.  She could tell that although we were upset, Chris kept it together and she was amazed she never "lost it".  She was surprised that supervisors we spoke with did not do more for us.  She agreed that free collect calls come with roaming charges and that they will now include that in the wording of their agreements.  OK!  She agreed that we were promised miles we did not receive and awarded us 30, 000 miles.  Nice!  And she agreed that the extra hotel stay in Camogli was their fault and took $250 off our bill.  Really Very Nice!  Also she waived the card fee for 2015.

Now the hotel stay in Rome screwed us.  We had 3 individual nights reserved.  We stayed one night.  I called down and made sure the other two nights were cancelled before we checked out but did not get a confirmation of that cancellation.  We got charged for three nights.   Bastards!  Stupid me.

Oh, one last thing.  We received a letter in the mail indicating we were ticketed in Perugia when we returned our 3 day rental car to Hertz for going the wrong way in a bus lane, 140 euros.

Take me to court!