The wreckage from COVID continues to litter our lives. We work differently, play differently and are entertained differently.
For all I know, romance isn’t how it was. How can it be? So many fell in love, or just into dating, at work. When Zooming at home, that doesn’t quite cut it.
Customer service of all kinds has been laid waste. Excuse the bitter laughter, but what was for a while called the service economy was sent packing by COVID, as companies in droves found out they could serve less and get the same money.
Let us start with the airlines. If you have had the misfortune to take a flight, you are as likely suffering from your own brand of PTSD. You may get counseling at the YMCA or find a support group online.
First off, booking online. This isn’t for the faint of heart. Some people aren’t computer-wise but don’t think you can call the airlines and get help. That is so last century. You had best find one of the few independent travel agents still in business. This person, you soon learn, will book you on Expedia and charge you a fee for doing the obvious. What price hassle reduction?
The TSA security infuriates us all. More so since COVID, because no one wants to put on the uniform when they can get work where everyone doesn’t hate them.
It didn’t have to be this way. If the airlines and their friendly regulator, the FAA, had just put locks on cockpit doors after the first hijackings in the 1950s, chances are there would have been no 9/11, no TSA, and I could keep my shoes on and TSA hands off. If you like being patted down, get a dog.
Then there is the cash conundrum. On banknotes, it says, “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” Not anymore. Try using cash at the airline counter. Not since COVID do they take it. I saw a sad situation when a young woman, already pulled up short for having to pay for checking her backpack, was told to convert her cash into a credit voucher at a machine, which has suddenly appeared near the check-in — for another fee, of course. Friendly skies, eh?
Once you have paid extra for luggage, extra for a marginally larger seat, extra to board early, and extra for Wi-Fi, you might think all is well, and it is time for the boarding scrum. No way. The flight is canceled. No pilot. To my mind, that would be a critical job in aviation, and if you have the temerity to run an airline, you might want to have a few extra pilots. Soon, the airlines may ask passengers to pop forward and handle the controls — for a fee, of course.
Banks responded to COVID by closing branches and putting ATM machines in parking lots.
Maybe you have tried to pay your credit card bill when it is already in arrears because the bank card company has stopped sending out paper bills without telling you? Next thing is they are calling you in the middle of dinner to tell you that your credit is being damaged by your being tardy paying. “No problem,” you tell the recorded voice, which has just ruined dinner.
Don’t do that unless you have half a day to spare because you don’t call the bank and speak to someone — it used to be a person, but they are now a “representative” who has just crossed the border and sent to a call center by a Southern governor. They know enough English to tell you they are trying to collect a debt, not solve your problem because you don’t have the paper bill.
You give up. You don’t care about your credit score anymore. You read this person the information from your check and ask them to take the money and do something unsanitary with their card. Over? Hell no. Later, you will get a letter from the “customer relations team” telling you impolitely that your check didn’t clear because you gave them the wrong routing number.
Hotels also have jumped at the opportunity to stick it to you since the COVID outbreak. You have to beg to have your room cleaned, even though you pay hundreds of dollars a night. More begging for towels. When you complain about how you are being treated, they say this is for your safety due to COVID.
The hospitality industry is reeling from COVID. Yes. Reeling it in.