Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


I left home yesterday to begin my vacation. I was so excited to be flying out of my local, small airport, as it is only a few miles from my home. After a friend dropped me off and pulled away, I received a text stating my plane had been delayed. Okay. No big deal. I had a long layover in Atlanta anyway. I was on my way to Florida to visit my parents.

Three texts, i.e. delays, later, my layover had disappeared. No problem. I phoned Delta Airlines, and their polite male agent put me on a later flight from Atlanta to Florida. It was, however, the last flight to Florida that night. Nevertheless, I wasn't too concerned. I mean we'd already been delayed 3 or 4 hours. How much longer could this last, I thought?

Well... The texts didn't end. Soon the last flight of the day from Atlanta to Florida was no longer a possibility. It's okay, the polite agent told me on the phone. Delta would put me up in a hotel overnight, and I'd be on the first flight out in the morning. He explained a courteous Delta agent would meet me at the gate in Atlanta and set it all up. Transportation to and from the hotel, too, I asked? No problem, he said. Okay...

The Delta agents at my local airport were great. They ordered us complimentary pizza for dinner, plied our patience with free soda and chocolate, and assured us we'd be on our way soon. It was seven hours later before our plane took off. We arrived in Atlanta around 1:00 AM.

There was one Delta agent at the gate, just as promised. However, that Delta agent directed me to the Delta ticket counter. She said the ticket agent there would issue me a hotel voucher and get me on my way. The ticket counter, I discovered, was over one mile away (not even exaggerating a little), and the tram from my terminal to the ticket counter was no longer running. Okay. No big deal. It actually felt good to stretch my legs.

I was so proud of myself for taking this "inconvenience," as the Delta agents kept calling it, in stride. Sure it was annoying, but stuff happens, right? On my way to the ticket counter I called Delta again, as I decided I no longer wanted a hotel voucher. I figured by the time I got settled into my room, I'd have to turn around and come back to the airport for my morning flight. I didn't want to deal with the hassle of transportation and getting through security again in a very busy city and airport.

The agent on the phone confirmed I was headed in the right direction, to the Delta ticket counter, and she said that once there, an agent would issue a flight voucher, perhaps worth $100-$150. That's what she said. Well, my take-it-in-stride attitude changed a bit when I arrived at the ticket counter, somewhere around 1:30 AM, and it was totally vacated and dark. What???

At that point another phone call to Delta, my seventh call of the day, changed my attitude a lot! The polite agent on the other end of the phone said, "Of course the ticket counter is closed. It's only open until 7:00 PM." I was exasperated! Even if I had wanted to go to a hotel, it seemed it was actually not at all an option. I had just walked over one mile in the middle of the night, on the advice of two different Delta agents, and not a sole existed to assist me.

What was I supposed to do, I inquired? The agent on the phone offered me the toll free customer care number. I could call them at 8:00 AM, he said. That was all he could do. I couldn't believe it.

I wandered around for another ten minutes. I think I was in such disbelief I didn't know what else to do, and I was so angry I wasn't ready to give up. That's when I spotted a lost baggage office with one lonely worker inside. He couldn't help me, but he summoned a woman in a red vest from a back room. Apparently the red vest denotes some level of power at Delta.

Red vest wasn't too interested in what I had been through over the previous 10 hours. She didn't care that two separate agents had assured me I would be assisted by someone at the empty ticket counter. For all I knew, she was the agent who was supposed to be assisting me in the first place! And I only found her because I desperately wandered into a lonely lost baggage office.

Red Vest flatly stated she could issue me a $50 ticket voucher. Is that what I wanted, she asked? I told her about the phone agent's suggestion that I would perhaps be entitled to $100-$150 voucher. Nope. Fifty bucks. Take it or leave it. I took it. I then asked her for the customer care number the previous phone agent had offered to me. She didn't say a word.

Red Vest printed up my lucrative ticket voucher and handed it to me without a word or a glance. She offered me a meal voucher, which I also took, and which she also gave me without comment. I asked again about the customer care number. She motioned to the paper in my hand. When I looked down I saw an email and a snail mail address for Delta customer care. There was no phone number listed.

That's when I was delivered the final shot. When I inquired, Red Vest flatly told me customer care could not be reached by phone. They didn't have a phone number, she said. I had to use the email or postal address she had provided. She lied. Remember, the previous phone agent had offered me the toll free customer care number just 10 minutes before. I was too tired to argue with Red Vest. I left with my vouchers. Google easily provided Delta's "non-existent" customer care number a few moments later.

I'm in Florida now. I arrived this morning, without incident or delay, after spending the overnight on a bench in the Atlanta airport. Operating on 3 hours of sleep, I haven't yet had the energy to call Delta customer care, but I will. I don't expect much, and I wish I had thought to get Red Vest's name, but I will call them anyway. I'm planning to enjoy the rest of my time here, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about my trip back home. Wish me luck, my friends.


Paul said...

Yeah, the trip home will probably go without a hitch, and you'll be so glad to be home again that all of the frustration will probably melt away. And the chance to beef at Delta and maybe get some satisfaction (and a little corrective training for Red Vest) will be gone.

So don't wait until you're home!

Also, I'm sure the voucher will have some link to the name of the Red Vest.

I'm glad you're getting some vacation in a warm place. Bottle up a little of that sunshine and send it my way if you have a moment.

Nathalie Webb said...

oh Etta I do hope you enjoy your holiday after all the hassle you've experienced.

Anne Jee-eun said...

Dear Etta,

To me it sounds as though you managed that increasingly frustrating situation with poise and maturity. I wish you all the best for your trip, injury management and ongoing support for your life whilst managing depression illness, from a fellow person with relapsing severe depression episodes, in Australia. I have fought the illness for five years, and only during this last episode have accepted its' chronicity and recurrence. Thank you for describing and sharing your life with/despite this illness; I often am unable to even elucidate let alone describe what I am going through, and I felt your stories touched me even more as I am also a health practitioner. I wish I had your natural love of running and exercise, though! Keep on marching through... I will too... overall, I believe the possibilities of life are worth it.