Sent to Atlanta

Jerry Schuster

You should understand the background story first, or else the remaining part won’t make any sense. It probably won’t make sense even if you know the background, but that’s your problem, not mine.

It is very important that you not cheat and go to the end of this article before reading all of it. I am going to propose a radical solution to the problem of “getting Sent to Atlanta” and once this gets rolling you will see a much improved way of doing business. Please don’t read the end now.

Let’s begin:

My wife Theresa and I booked a flight from Bozeman to Albany, New York recently to visit family on the east coast. The flight out was uneventful, except when we arrived at our “final destination”(that phrase has always seemed so austere to me) my knees were locked into position against my chest and they needed to winch me from the seat to deplane.

Anyway, back to the story. We had booked an early morning return flight, real nice and easy schedule. Albany to Minneapolis, then on to Bozeman and here early afternoon so there would be time for a hike up Hyalite to unlock my knees.
We arrive at the Albany airport very early am. By 6 am we are all boarded, pushed back and ready to go. Except we don’t go. After sitting on the tarmac for 28 minutes and 12 seconds, the First Officer announces there is a slight problem, should be good to go in 10 minutes. Except we don’t go. Finally, an announcement, in a real low voice, that the plane can’t fix itself and we must return to the gate. We return to the gate, deplane, watch mechanics try to fix plane. Can’t fix, plane really broken.

Seems like we are now combined with a much larger crowd trying to get out of Albany. We notice our fellow passengers scrambling to get into lines to get rebooked, rerouted or whatever. The airline folks are pushing many computer keys to try to accommodate a now frustrated crowd, but everything is moving ever so slowly. The word gets out that most of us will be sent to Atlanta, Georgia where they will take care of all of our needs.

Finally, our turn. The agent clicks and clicks on the keyboard, then more clicking as we wait patiently for our flight out to Minneapolis and suddenly and without warning, boom! Sent to Atlanta! But, cried I, we don’t want to tour the continent today, and look at a map of the USA and you will see we are getting very far away from Montana! Please, sir, came the stern reply, they will get you to where you are going and would you step aside,!

Hours later, we arrive in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Apparently, so does everyone else on the planet who is traveling that day. Fortunately, we are able to “draft” behind a big muscular man who is heading toward our gate, so we are able to buck the oncoming human traffic with just minor scrapes and bruises.

Okay, I am going to fast forward here, since your interest is starting to wane, and I really don’t want to lose you before you get to the ending with its radical idea for bringing an end to getting “Sent to Atlanta.” Hang on, here goes. We wait and wait for information, but the stressed out agents won’t talk to us until exactly 43 minutes before expected departure. We still don’t have seat assignments. Finally after everyone else has boarded the plane, we are told to get on the plane just as the doors are closing. Yes, we are the last two on a plane that looks like it holds 3,444 people in “economy class.” Everyone is very grouchy and thinking we are the major cause of the now considerable delay in departure. We circle the globe for what seems like three times and arrive in Minneapolis…then to Bozeman on a red eye…arrive very late and have to be extracted from seat (see “winch” above).

Now, I will put this enigmatic issue in plain English for you. People who should try, but will not deal with your problem and thus make it theirs, have this way of sending you down the road for someone else to handle. Makes life a lot more enjoyable for them and they can appear interested at the same time. Here is their thought process: Well, I will get you out of my face and space and send you to someone else far away, and…have a nice day…next! Politicians in Washington become very good at this maneuver. Kick the can down the road and let someone fifteen years from now deal with an issue. Takes care of it, and excuse me since I have to go out and kiss some more babies.

Now, if you have lived on this planet for more than three days, you have been sent to Atlanta. I will give you just a few personal experiences.

Example #1:

We wanted to purchase a new “mini” computer, so after checking features on-line decided to buy locally mainly for the service we would get if a problem occurred. Cost more, but we assumed it would be worth it, as I have no clue for fixing anything computer related.

After three weeks, this computer is not functioning, not at all, a “lemon” computer. Took it back to the store expecting some service, a replacement or a sympathetic ear. Not to be. When we walked in with the machine, all the techs headed for lunch except the new hire, who had been on the job for about 23 minutes, and who explained that this was a manufacturer problem and we would have to send it back ourselves. But sir, said I, we purchased this in store so we would have service. Sorry, he replied nervously, read your owner’s manual, page 1114, sub (b) store warranty..send it in for repair…No, sir, you cannot leave the device here, but I will have the general manager call you later, and maybe he can help you…have a nice day.

As we limped out of the store, I turned to my wife and exclaimed “We’ve just been sent to Atlanta!” A nameless, faceless manager called very late in the day to confirm that they could not be of assistance. Before hanging up, I advised the manager that I didn’t like being sent to Atlanta, and that would be the end of my business with the store. Atlanta? he whimpered, you must be confused. Get some rest….

Example #2:

So you need another example? If you didn’t get the gist of this by now, I suggest you read something from The Grit or Reader’s Digest and just relax a little.

Okay, a real short one. Your capacity to absorb concepts seems quite limited.
When we moved to Bozeman from Old Town, Wolf Point, we decided to get a new washing machine since our old one had seen about 8700 loads. Well, we shopped locally and heard about all the latest features and was then shown something in our price point. When we actually started using this machine, there was something very strange about it. It didn’t use much water to wash the clothes. Not much soap either. Yes, you could throw in a full load, one third cup of water and one eye dropper of low suds soap, and like magic, clean clothes. Problem: clothes did not come out clean. Looked and smelled the same as when we put them in. Before you ask, yes I plugged it in. My brilliant solution: get a machine that uses water and soap. Seemed plain enough.

Anyway, I went back to the store to discuss this exigency, and when the sales people saw me coming, they all headed for lunch, except the new guy. Wait, maybe that was for the computer problem, just disregard.

After a long conversation, I was informed that the machine was fine, and it was not their fault that it didn’t clean the clothes and they could get us into a model that uses water and soap, but not in our price point….and no trade in value, it’s now used, and we can have the manager call you, and have a nice day.

I left the store with tears streaming down my face. The customers coming in were probably wondering about my arcane murmurings…Sent to Atlanta…Sent to Atlanta…

Now, for those of you who cheated and went right to this part of the article, shame on you. For those of you who stuck it out through the rough parts, good for you. You are now going to learn what I propose to end this practice of getting Sent to Atlanta: Each time you are told that someone down the road can help you, just not the one you are talking to, STOP and say with a bold, clear voice: I WILL NOT BE SENT TO ATLANTA! YOU MUST HELP ME NOW AND IN THIS PLACE!

We could start something here, right in Bozeman, Montana. Yes, around the world, when we are put off to another person, place or entity for a problem, we will say NO! You will not send me to Atlanta!

Try this and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, please do not e-mail or contact me with your results, because I don’t want to be dealing with all of your issues. Have enough of my own to resolve. Anyway, I would probably have to send you to Atlanta. Thanks and have a nice day.   

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