Friday, July 25, 2014

Customer Disservice

Monday, July 21, 2014
Just hours after buying two tickets to see the Book of Mormon in London in September, at about 1/3 the Broadway price, the (London-resident) Brodies sent me an e-mail that they would like to see it too. I got back on-line to Ticketmaster UK (TUK) to order more tickets and found the two seats next to us still open. However, when I tried to purchase them, the computer wouldn’t allow it, because it would leave one more seat in the cluster vacant. In other words, I could purchase one seat of the three available or all three seats, but not two seats. I repeat, TUK refused to sell me two seats, because a third seat was left over with 54 days before the performance to sell it. I immediately sent an e-mail to their customer service desk and got a form response requesting patience. 

Patient I’m not, so yesterday I called Over There and explained the situation to a TUK rep, who claimed that the theater imposed that policy on them. After several minutes of my eloquence, inspired by Rumpole of the Bailey, he agreed to take my appeal to higher authority, and promised resolution in the indeterminate future, either unlocking the two adjacent seats, or placing us in another array of four seats. With that, the prosecution rested, temporarily.

Today, I e-mailed David Brodie and, with silence from TUK, I urged him to go the theater and buy the available seats, just as any normal human being would without the unholy intervention of irrational microcircuitry. Good thinking, right? Well, the theater, even though named for the Prince of Wales, successor to the Throne, would not sell him the tickets because, they informed him, those seats are allocated to TUK. Checkmate?  We'll see.

I spent much of my senior year at CCNY reworking a paper on the confirmation battle over Clare Boothe Luce’s appointment as ambassador to Brazil in order to submit it simultaneously to several different government courses that I was taking, that is the small portion of my senior year that I actually devoted to academic pursuits. A new biography of Luce was reviewed in the Times yesterday by Maureen Dowd, a woman with an almost equally sharp tongue. Dowd recalled the only time she ever met Luce, who died in 1987, Luce greeted her with "Did you know all the mischief in the world was caused by five Jewish men?" This was coupled with another Luce remark meant to illustrate where she stood on the International Jewish Conspiracy.

However, I found the comment about five Jewish men, which I don’t think originated with Luce, fascinating, and not necessarily unflattering. First, of course, we need to identify the starting lineup. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Marx and Freud, a powerful collection, immediately came to mind.  Although not Jewish, Hitler, Stalin and Mao could surely qualify as mischief-makers. They might be on the second team, though, because they were specific to their time and place, not shaping the future, only destroying it for many in their path.

I am reconsidering Abraham’s place. While his monotheism was radical, I’m not sure of its value today. The monotheistic religions still battle (often literally) over whose God is the one and only God. So, I have a slot open. "Major Male Jewish Mischief-Maker Wanted." Theodore Herzl, Bob Dylan, Baruch Spinoza, Lennie Bruce?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
After numerous e-mail exchanges with TUK, and my suggestion that American Express has proved very cooperative with me in the past when dealing with unreasonable vendors, I received the following message shortly before noon: "Thanks for your reply and I’m sorry to hear of any frustration. However, I can see from the notes on your order that we’ve added 2 tickets to your booking in row S and seats 14 -15 to your order." Indeed, just before 2 PM, I got a telephone call from the Mother Country completing the transaction. Game, set and match.

Wait! Stop the presses! Not two minutes after the telephone call from TUK, David Brodie sent me this e-mail: "I have two tickets just in front of you R14 & R15 bought and paid for." As of now, we have 6 tickets for Book of Mormon, when moments ago we were beseeching TUK to allow us to have four.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Boyz Club ate heartily at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street – fried won tons, spare ribs, duck chow fun, beef chow fun, eggplant with garlic sauce, honey crispy chicken, shrimp egg foo young, string beans with black bean sauce, mushroom fried rice and toothpicks for dessert @ $16 each complete.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
First message in my in-box this morning is from David Brodie telling how theater box office is unwilling to correct our trans-Atlantic communications breakdown. This might be a good time for you to consider a few days in London in early September. I can guarantee good seats to a hit show.

My role as a cutting-edge observer of the passing scene is subject to the vagaries of time, that is, when you get to my cutting edge, it has often been dulled by the inexorable movement of time and tide. But, I have an obligation to report what I see, and I see fruit prices in Chinatown in a very favorable position. Cherries, both Bing and Queen Anne, are at 2 pounds for $4, blueberries, $1.25 a pint, strawberries, $1.25 a pound. Champagne mangoes are running out, and have risen to about $1.25 each for hefty sizes, but juicy sweet when ripe. For one day only earlier in the week, I found white donut peaches at $3 for 20 ounces, a rare treat. While not a bargain, Fairway has been featuring pluots (plum/apricot hybrids) at around $3.99 a pound that are consistently delicious. Indulge.  After all, think of all the money you saved in Chinatown.

Friday, July 25, 2014
These are troubled times, and it’s not easy finding and holding onto manifestations of certainty and reliability. One comforting beacon has been the accuracy of the reporting at the New Yorker magazine. Their fact-checking is legendary.
Even their cartoons are reputedly fact-checked.

Which means that I have to report the following with some regret. This week, in a story about a family of young dealers in antique musical instruments, the writer describes a visit to their new apartment/showroom in the Plaza Hotel, which was graced by a table they had just purchased on auction at Christies. The three sibling’s mother "set a plate of pastel macaroons on it." Even if it were Passover, everyone knows that macarOOns, a corrugated, conical-shaped confection made of sugar, egg whites and either ground almonds or coconut, appear in shades of tan, unless mixed with cocoa, or dipped in chocolate. Cf. the good works of

Given the fancy schmancy setting of the Plaza Hotel, the likelihood of serving macaroons of any hue was remote, at best. What are available in a rainbow of vivid pastel colors (actually ROYGBIV doesn’t leave much room for pastels) are macarOns, a French merengue sandwich cookie. I have fulminated on this subject before (March 21, 2011). How could the New Yorker make such a mistake?  Is there nothing left to hold on to?

Well, apparently not, because I found even the New York Times crossword puzzle today to be fraught with error.  36 Across - Polish rolls (7 letters).  I don't mean to be ethnocentric, but, as my friends at Wikipedia tell us, bialy is "a Yiddish word short for bialystoker kuchen, from Bialystok, a city in Poland."  In Poland, where there are few if any Jews left to speak Yiddish or anything else, the locals say cebularz.  The correct clue for BIALIES is Jewish rolls.  I realize that the current publisher of the New York Times was raised Episcopalian, but even he won't walk into a bakery or coffee shop in New York and ask for a Polish roll.

1 comment:

  1. What's more, the plural word is 'BIALYS" according to Merriam-Webster.