The Trick is to Redefine “On Time”

Dear Southwest Airlines,

I’m not entirely sure you’re using the phrase “on time” the way the rest of us are. Let’s review how you reported on Fight 1215’s status tonight:

"On Time" is just Another Word for "Delayed"

"On Time" is just Another Word for "Delayed"

You’re acknowledging that when a flight leaves three hours later than scheduled it’s “Delayed”. But in what system of timekeeping did you conclude that a 12:30 am arrival for a 9:20 schedule is “On Time”?

I’ll tell you what happened. Your developer forgot about dates when writing code that probably looks something like this:

if (scheduledArrivalTime < publishedArrivalTime) { return "On Time"; }

See, even though 12:30 am is earlier in the day than 9:30 pm, the flight is still unquestionably delayed.

We’re just hoping the same person didn’t write the software that helps land the planes.

Someone who will be leaving for the airport long after this plane should have been here

Hartford, Massachusetts?

Dear JetBlue,

Since the fundamental purpose of the service you provide is to transport people to a particular location, shouldn’t you at least know which state each of your destination cities is in?

Where is Hartford?


Dog Bites Man Again

Dear Bank,

Back in May your fraud prevention department contacted me to report what ultimately turned out to be a routine Peapod purchase for a little over $100.

It was humorous.

When you called me again today to report another possibly fraudulent transaction on my card I was less amused.  I assumed the lunch order I placed today for over $100 (covering my colleagues, who paid me back in cash) was the offending transaction.

Imagine my surprise when you confirmed what had really gotten your computer’s attention: a single online purchase from Peapod for a little over $100.


You know… Peapod.


Haven’t we been down this road before?  I know I recognize that tree.

In the future, please assume that all charges from Peapod are legitimate until I notify you otherwise.  I promise to alert you before paying someone else’s grocery bill.

Someone who just wanted to buy food

Stop Stealing My Coffee

Dear Passengers at Logan International Airport,

You’ve clearly noticed the many Starbucks restaurants conveniently located throughout the airport. Let me take just a moment to explain how they work.

Since many customers are ordering coffee at the same time in busy locations like these, the baristas (i.e., staff) will call out a description of each drink they’ve prepared as they put it out on the counter for customers to collect. This lets you verify that you’re picking up the correct drink.

If the barista announces, for example, “tall with-whip nonfat caramel macchiato” but what you ordered was “decaf tea,” that drink is not yours. It belongs to someone who actually ordered what the barista described and who, as a rule, would like to consume it.

Common practice in this situation is to step aside and let the intended customer pick up the cup. It’s considered impolite to take it yourself, sip from it, and then walk away muttering that it’s a terrible cup of tea.  It’s also generally regarded as incorrect to pick up three beverages completely at random, take them back to the cashier, and complain that they’re not what you ordered.

These actions do not get you your drink any faster or better, but do inconvenience the people whose drinks you’ve stolen.

Customers in Starbucks locations elsewhere do not seem to struggle with this. It’s just you, fellow Logan travelers, who do it every single time I go to Starbucks before a flight.  Please stop.  If I can help clarify the procedure, please do not hesitate to ask when you find yourself in line behind me.

Someone who just wants his Grande One-Shot With-Whip Mocha

Found in a Hallway (Part 2)

Dear Neighbors,

Following are appropriate places to put half-eaten slices of pizza;

  • Your stomach
  • The garbage
  • Someone else’s plate (in specific circumstances only)

Following are inappropriate places to put half-eaten slices of pizza:

  • The middle of a hallway
  • An elevator

Please make a note of these guidelines immediately to avoid any recurrence of this problem

Someone from civilized society

Where’s My Button?


For years you’ve had a button on the “Your Account” page labeled “Where’s my stuff?”

I miss this button.

I understand that I get all the same functionality through the “View Recent and Open Orders” button, but it’s much less fun to click.

I just thought you should know.

Someone who doesn’t know where his stuff is

What’s Mine is Yours… Apparently

Dear Boston Globe,

You really need to stop delivering my newspaper to my neighbors.  It was funny for a while when nobody was living in that apartment, but now some students have moved in.  It’s only a matter of time before one of them wakes up early (perhaps for an exam) and thinks she’s gotten a free newspaper.

If you’d like to also leave them a free newspaper after delivering mine, I support that.  College students should be well informed.  However, that is not my primary motivation for taking out a subscription.  I want to read the paper myself on the train in the morning.

One helpful trick is to look at the number on the apartment door before leaving the paper.  If it’s identical to the number on the subscription list, the paper can go there.  If it’s different – even by just one or two digits – other people probably live there who didn’t subscribe, and you should keep looking.  In my case, you’ll find the correct apartment is literally across the hall, and it will require no additional work to find.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter,
Someone who doesn’t live with his college student neighbors

Have I Moved and Not Noticed It?

Dear Netflix,

The front of the return envelope you sent me reads:

Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility
PO Box 6005
Columbia, MO 65205-6005

I am not in Missouri.  I am, in fact, more than 1,000 miles away from Columbia, MO.  Google estimates it would take 20 hours, 29 minutes to drive from there to here.

I understand that movies must sometimes be shipped from a different facility when they’re unavailable near me.  I’m not sure, however, that it can still qualify as the “nearest” facility.

If you’re not going to have us return movies to the nearest center, now would be a good time to relabel your envelopes.

A guy who owns a map

1… 2… 10!

Dear MSIE 7,

You just reported an error in my script, which reads:

Line: 121561571
Char: 4
Error: ‘_input’ is null or not an object
Code: 0

That’s a lot of lines of code.  I’d like to propose a deal.

I only wrote 3,507 lines of JavaScript for this application.  If I promise to debug all of my code, will you debug the remaining 121,558,064 lines yourself?  This arrangement seems entirely fair to me, since I really shouldn’t be held accountable for 121 million lines of code you just invented on the spot.

Thank you for your cooperation,
A developer who didn’t introduce any bugs just now.

Mr. Current Resident, At Your Service

Dear Schweitzer Linen,

I keep requesting that you remove Ms. Kimberly, the previous occupant of my apartment, from your catalog mailing list.  While she may have been a loyal customer, I have never ordered your products, and I’m opposed to printed catalogs anyway.

Crossing out her name and circling “Or Current Resident” on the catalog really wasn’t what I had in mind.

Not Ms. Kimberly

(It’s more likely the circling and crossing out happened upon my building receiving the catalog, but it’s still absurd.  It’s been two years now.)