Yours pedantically

Yesterday, I called up the airline again, this was the third time I had called up about the error.

A week ago, I made a flight booking for two passengers by redeeming some airmiles. When the tickets  were issued, I noticed that  there had to be a mistake in one of our tickets as the order of my family name was placed differently from  the way his family name was placed.

I immediately called up the airline and was told that the order of my name on my ticket was incorrect and they would rectify the error  and email me  a fresh ticket. I therefore left my email address and phone number with the customer service personnel. At the end of the call, I also pressed ‘yes’ to the question as to whether I would like to speak to the same officer the next time I call.

Two days later, as I had not received the ticket, I telephoned the call centre again and was told that the name was correct when  the ticket was first issued and now it had become incorrect and they would have to rectify it. I was told that procedurally before any correction was made, I should have been asked to send in my passport copy to verify the name and I was advised to send in my passport copy this time. I was given the email address to send on a copy of my passport. At the end of the call I again pressed ‘yes’ to the question as to whether I would like to speak to the same officer the next time I call. I asked for her name and I had emailed my passport to her attention.

After sending on my passport copy, the email kept bouncing back so I made another call to the airline thinking that I might have jotted down the wrong email address. The person at the other end confirmed that I have certainly got the right email address. Before I telephoned, I made a search on my booking and the name of the booking appeared correct. This time the person said she would rectify right away and send it to me. I told her I noticed that the names on the booking were correct and she said they had rectified the booking but not the name on my air ticket. She also confirmed that the email address was correct and it would take a few days for the centre to accept and  respond. Meanwhile she asked if I would still want to go ahead and make the change or I would rather wait till the call centre acknowledges receipt of my passport copy. She said that would be the last time I was allowed to make a change, that was when I told her the mistake was not mine, and how could I be made responsible  if they make the same mistake again despite all these calls. I went through my name with her again and again and she in turn repeated  to make sure she got it right and  she asked me to stay on the line as she would email me right away and she wanted  me to check my mailbox. I checked my mailbox and nothing happened for the next one minute which felt like an hour. I told her that I did not receive it yet and so she  said she would send again………. Finally I received my ticket twice and the same ticket was also sent to my husband’s mailbox and he also emailed me my ticket  so I ended up with several emails of my new air ticket.  Such is the efficiency of technology. 

Last week , I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  a debut novel by Gail Honeyman.  It is a compelling and funny read.  Eleanor Oliphant is 29 years old, did well academically with a degree in Classics and lives a solitary life in Glasgow. She works as a finance clerk at By Design, a graphic design company. At work, she eats alone and is able to complete the Daily Telegraph crossword during her lunch break. She is bright, conscientious and very well organized but she spends her weekends drinking vodka and has no social contacts. She is a misfit amongst her work colleagues and she describes herself as absolutely fine as she goes about her simple living. One day when her computer screen freezes, she asks for the office IT guy to fix it. Raymond Gibbons is the new IT guy and they become acquainted by chance and later by design.

The story is written in first-person voice. Every year, she gets scheduled visits from social workers and  every Wednesday evening , she speaks to her mother who had become institutionalized somewhere unknown to her. From her narration of the conversation with her mother, the latter comes across manipulative and terribly unkind.

‘ Mummy has always told me that I am ugly, freakish, vile. She’s done so from my earliest years, even before I acquired my scars. So I felt very happy about making these changes. Excited. I was a blank canvas.

   At home that evening, I looked into the mirror above the washbasin while I washed my damaged hands. Ther I was Eleanor Oliphant. Long, straight, light brown hair that runs all the way down to my waist, pale skin, my face a scarred palimpsest of fire. A nose that’s too small and eyes that are too big. Ears.: unexceptional. Around average height, approximately average weight. I aspire to average….I’ve been the focus of far too much attention in my time. Pass me over, move along please, nothing to see here.

    I don’t often look in the mirror, as a rule. This has absolutely nothing to do with my scars. It is because of the unsettling gene mix that looks back at me. It is because of the unsettling gene mix that looks back at me. I see far too much of Mummy’s face there. I cannot distinguish any of my father’s features, because I have never met him and, to the best of my knowledge, no photographic records exist.

When Eleanor asks her mother about her father looks like, she says,

“ I can’t remember what he looked like.”

Eleanor is a survivor of a tragic past and yet the protagonist does not wallow in self-pity. When you get to know her, she is bright, fiercely independent and an endearing character. With the right amount of help that she does not realise that she clearly needs, she finally finds the courage to face the dark corners in her life. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a heartwarming story. click 

Daunt Books,Marylebone,London

Reese Witherspoon has optioned the film right to the book and a film is presently in the making. 


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