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Mrs. Monk's Would-be Diary, should have been written by Mrs. Monk, since she is the "Writer" in the family.
However, since she is a writer only in the conceptual sense, I have undertaken to fill these pages on her behalf.
If not by her, these pages will certainly be about her, and other important matters of the day

Leslie Monk, the long suffering.
 

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C H R O N I C L E

Mrs Monk’s

Would-Be Diary

“Maxjet, I am a Diabetic,” she said

 18 August 2006

Mrs. Monk invested in two tickets on the newish “All Business” Class Maxjet Airline from London, Standstead Airport, to Washington Dulles Airport. Since the fare is less than half the price of say, British Airways “Business Class”, I was braced for disappointment, because you get what you pay for as they say, and how?

Last Thursday’s draconian rules about hand baggage following the plot busting activities of the British Secret Policemen, had been relaxed, but there was a backlog to face. We kept an eye on things, and yesterday it was reported that all was back on time.

We were relieved, but then today, on the morning of our departure, I heard a scream.

Mrs Monk had scrolled down the BAA departure listings and had discovered that our flight had been CANCELLED

“CANCELLED” she screamed. “CANCELLED” she screamed. again.

We made the phone calls, then made our way to the airport. Mrs Monk was up for a fight.

“I am a diabetic”, she explained.

“Don’t shout at the Maxjet Airline people” I said

“I am a diabetic”, she explained.

We learnt that Maxjet Airline had indeed cancelled our flight and we were now to travel on their New York flight instead. It was explained that they had chartered another plane to complete our journey to Washington, but they could not tell us when that would happen, because that plane had a technical problem that had to be fixed, and that plane was still in New York.

Maxjet Airline had a “CANCELLED” plane but also a broken plane, and Mrs Monk is a diabetic.

We had spoken to number of help lines and also to at least 5 Maxjet Airline people in person.

We asked anyone that would listen, when would we be leaving, and what would happen to us in New York. We never got the same answer twice, and in due course we learnt to be sceptical about positive answers designed to make us go away. For example we were told that we would be accommodated in the finest hotel in New York, and that we would depart in just two hours. This seemed possible but unlikely, and ultimately unrealised.

We watched as two different Maxjet Airline customers asked two different Maxjet Airline desk clerks when we would depart and given two different yet positive answers, both of which turned out to be inaccurate, by a mile.

All reassurances were in due course treated with increasing disdain and only a very nice young man, Simon, was man enough to offer us the unpalatable truth. He was rewarded with some abuse from some fellow passengers. Mrs Monk also raised her voice with Simon, but then got on side with him, before she bought up the “C” word: Compensation.

“Simon, I am a diabetic”, she explained.

We shared our concerns with a South African couple who appeared at the check-in at the same time as us. They had heard that we would not fly today but would fly tomorrow on Virgin, “In Comfort”

That rumour turned out to be false.

We eventually departed 5 minutes to midnight, 5 minutes before they would not be allowed to take off due to “aviation rules”, and maybe 5 minutes before they would be obliged to pay us substantial compensation.

We were happy to be on our way but unhappy to be flying into the night and to the wrong destination.

We met our stewards on the plane who could not have been more accommodating. Mrs Monk has learnt not to mention her diabetes to stewards, when food is served on the plane, since to do so would mean that an unpalatable hash of tasteless food would be served.

We arrived in New York at 3 AM where we learnt that we were booked on a Jet Blue flight at 7 AM

Mrs Monk started to fight for the promised New York Hotel so that we could rest, and since the Maxjet Airline people seemed less than forthcoming, and seemed to expect us to hang about at the airport for the four hours before our flight at 7 AM.

“We were promised a hotel” she said.

“I am a diabetic”, she explained.

This seemed like a burden on whoever would be required to shift our bags once, twice and tree times more. That would be me.

The finest hotel in New York turned out to be the less than magnificent airport Holiday Inn at the end of the JFK runway. 

We used the one hour of available time to take a shower and take a nap.

Mrs Monk called the desk and asked the desk clerk to give us an early morning wake up call for 5.50 am

The desk clerk seemed surprised.

“I am a diabetic”, she explained.

Another courtesy bus, another check-in with a long line of busy commuters, and more haggling for the best seats.

“May we have a jump seat please?”, said Mrs Monk, “I am a diabetic”, she explained.

Her request was duly granted and we found ourselves in the two seats with enough leg room for tired legs.

We were surprised when a man came onto the plane and addressed the seated passengers He introduced himself as the CEO of Blue Jet Airlines, and announced that we were on the inaugural flight. We noticed for the first time that the plane, (unlike the antique Maxjet Airline plane), was spic and span and free of blemishes. I had a guinea-pig feeling for a while and then noted that we were no longer in “Business Class”.

Before take off we were reminded of our responsibilities as Jump Seat passengers. Mrs Monk was seated against the emergency seat and the question was directed at her.

“Are you prepared to assist in the event of an emergency evacuation?”

“YES” I answered for Mrs Monk, fearing that she would say, “I am a diabetic,” and we would have to swop our leggy jump seats for something less spacious.

We arrived in Dulles exhausted but relieved to be reunited with our baggage, met up around the carrousel with the nice South Africa couple and the angry American Lady who gave Maxjet Airline Simon a hard time at Stanstead check-in, 27 hours earlier. We had arrived some 16 hours behind schedule. What else could possibly go wrong?

We were pleased to show our new friends the way to the Car Rental courtesy buses. We had been through the ordeal together. We hugged and wished each other a good vacation. They got on their bus and we looked for ours, “Holiday Autos”

I was obliged to look after the baggage since Mrs Monk had abandoned it and me in pursuit of “Holiday Autos”

After 30 minutes Mrs Monk screamed across the melting tarmac. “Monk kkkk... We are in deep shit.... There is no “Holiday Autos”, and we have already paid for the car.....”

“Let me see the voucher”, I said trying to appear calm.

“Why do you need to see the voucher?” She said, “I have already read it, I’ve got to get help?”

“Come back here?” I said as she walked right past me and the 3 bags, laptop and back pack .........without stopping.

I began to melt into the tarmac.

Mrs Monk eventually reappeared calling my name from 50 yards away.

“MONK......KKKK”

Mrs monk could stop a 747 with her voice;  heads turned

I called back, “Come here at once, and let me see that voucher”

“I can’t, I gave it to an Old Man”, was not the answer I wanted to hear.

I managed to get the seriously hyperventilated Mrs Monk. back into the terminal building where I knew was a bank of courtesy phones,. Hertz, Avis, National Alamo etc.

I told Mrs Monk to phone each one. In turn she got negative answers on each phone in turn and when she got no reply she would scream some more and curse and curse.

All the while I wondered about the “old man” who had my voucher and in due course we made our way to the “old man” who was accompanied by three “old ladies” behind a help desk It was the mission of these elderly folk to assist “travellers in distress,” and Mrs Monk was in distress, blabbing incoherently.

One old Lady, Mrs Doubtfire said, “We have come to the conclusion that you must telephone your agent who sold you the voucher”

Mrs Monk, now welling with tears, “But they are in England, and we don't have a phone, .blab blab blub,” she said.

Mrs Monk had morphed into Nicky off Big Brother.

“But we have a phone my dear” said Miss Doubtfire, “We will call them for you”

“You will?” blubbed Mrs Monk overcome with gratitude,

“I am a diabetic”, explained Mrs Monk

“Then you must have something to eat, my dear,” she said, pointing at a fast food counter just a few yards away.

“Yes my dear,” I said through gritted teeth, “go and get something to eat”.

Mrs Monk decided that her diabetes did not exactly compel her to eat what was on offer at the nearby hot dog stall, and recovered quickly from her symptoms. Further relief was assured when we discovered that the voucher was in fact valid for “Alamo” Thank you Last Minute.Com for not including that information on the voucher. Thank you Alamo for the broken courtesy phone.

As we concluded our business with Mrs Doubtfire, a man sidled up to me and made small talk.

“Great Britain is a great friend”, he said enigmatically.

“We are”, I said ambiguously, implying neither a question or a statement.

“You have had a troubled journey”, This was definitely a statement and not a question, for this man was already ...... enlightened.

“We have had a HELL of a journey,” I said

“I used to serve in the United Kingdom”, he said.

I assumed that he meant he served in the military, but then I noticed a tag on his lapel for the first time.

“Chaplain”

Moments later he was conducting a prayer right there in the baggage hall. It was an unsolicited prayer hijack, in exchange for the free call to the UK. Amen

At Alamo, Mrs Monk collapsed in a chair, and left it to me to complete the transaction, but nevertheless heckled and argued with me at thirty yards about every petty decision about who drove the car and what car we selected.

The desk clerk asked me rhetorically if we had a bad journey,

Mrs Monk asked her where she could get something to eat.

.“I am a diabetic”, she explained.

. Shoestring Chronicle

 

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