More Life in Lubbock, Texas

Trip Start Sep 17, 2006
Trip End Dec 23, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, October 31, 2008

The temperature has dropped here in Lubbock. Yesterday morning cars were frozen over, and it hovered at about 40f during the early morning. The temperature is going to drop over the next few weeks, but should settle a little warmer than it is right now. What is totally bizarre though is how the temperature climbs during the day. On the same day that I woke up to ice on car windows it hit 79 degrees by 5pm at night! I don’t think I had ever experienced a day that started freezing and ended with 80f and sunshine. Apparently that’s normal here though.

Life in Lubbock has been fairly similar to my life back home. I’m able to work on my computer game business during the day, either at the house where I’m staying, or on the Texas Tech campus. I even spent one morning in a coffee shop with my laptop. That’s something I’m going to attempt to do more of, however I feel somewhat awkward spending three hours in a place having purchased just the one coffee. However if J. K. Rowling can spend months writing the first Harry Potter book primarily in coffee shops then I think I’ll get away with the odd morning writing software. Obviously the worst thing that could happen is that I’ll get asked to buy another drink, or even leave, neither of which would be any issue at all. Still it is taking me time to get used to that. I would buy more coffee but obviously I don’t want to leave my laptop, and beckoning over a waitress just seems rude.

The end of October has been birthday season here in Lubbock. Firstly on the 29th it was my younger brothers’ birthday back in the UK. I slightly messed up as I didn’t realise how long it would take to send back even a card. I found a post office and purchased a number of stamps for about 50p each. I asked the guy at the post office how long it would take to arrive, he said between 4 and 7 days. To get a card there in 2 days would have cost me $35!

Also during this week it was Whitney’s friend Stephen’s 18th birthday, and our housemate Ashton’s 22nd. Both involved a trip to La Diosa, an attractive looking restaurant in downtown Lubbock. This is supposedly the nicest place to eat here, although the waitress we had on my first trip here was extremely rude, overcharged us for sparkling wine, and promptly added a $3 surcharge for a terrible band which did nothing but irritate me.

At lunchtime on Halloween I went with Ashton to the hospital where her mum works. They were having a charity Chilli-off event. Chilli here means Chilli-con-carne to most of the rest of the world. I’m not one for spicy food but tried a bit of chilli, Ashton’s mum didn’t win the competition but the chilli I tried tasted pretty good. What I did notice from that trip was the size of vehicles in the hospital car park. I have never seen so many huge vehicles parked side by side. I’m not surprised that America uses 25% of the world’s energy! Trucks are particularly popular here. By that I don’t mean lorries, but what the Australians would call Ute’s.

In the evening we went to a ‘Mountain Goats’ concert. They are an American band with quite a strong following here in Lubbock. It was at a small intimate venue where we were able to get right up close to the speakers. Being Halloween most of the crowd were dressed in fancy dress. Fancy Dress here is referred to as ‘in costume’, the phrase fancy dress means to dress smartly.

This last week I attempted to re-schedule my next flight. I had been due to fly to Hawaii on November 4th. However I haven’t yet visited the west coast and so I wanted to re-schedule the flight for later in the month. I called up Qantas (who I purchased the Round-the-world ticket from), and was promptly put on hold. This lasted for about 22 minutes, after which I was spoken to by a polite but not too friendly woman. She told me that it was definitely possible to change my flights, but that a 50 change of itinerary fee, and a $40 phone assistance fee would apply! These would add up to approximately 75, which would need to be paid on the spot.

Now I appreciate airlines need to pay for call centres, and charging those who use the call centres makes sense, but 75 for a fifteen second adjustment on a computer, that seems very harsh! Then my phone credit ran out as the 25 minute call had cost me $6.25, and so in the end I didn’t hand over my credit card details.

A day or two later I called up again. This time I heard an option on the automated system for Frequent Flyer bookings. Now I knew that my booking wasn’t a flight paid for through the Frequent Flyer system, but I was a member of the Frequent Flyer program, and I had a few points in the bank. Feeling like I had nothing to lose I pressed ‘1’ and waited.

Literally ten seconds later my call was answered by a very pleasant sounding woman. I expected her to tell me this was the number for new bookings, but with just a dollar or so to lose I confidently told her that I had recently booked a round-the-world ticket and that I required a date change. To my surprise she said yes of course, and asked for the details. I quickly said my Hawaii flight needs to be for the 25th November. A moment later she came back and said “all done, I will email your itinerary”.

Shocked, I half wanted to hang up before she could ask for payment details. But not wanting to risk it not going through I stayed on the line as she asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I answered in the negative and ended the call. Still in shock I leaped for joy at the thought of saving roughly 75. If this wasn’t a one-off I have now figured out a way to make any number of date changes for no fee at all.

For those on Qantas flights I would highly recommend spending the five minutes or so it takes to sign up for the Frequent Flyer program. It was free to join and just saved me 75, the equivalent of a week’s accommodation. I could barely contain my excitement and had to lie down for a while. I pondered the strangeness and unpredictability of it all. There I was about to be charged a bomb for something that had I pressed a different number would have been for free. At no point on the first call did they tell me that I could get a change for free by pressing a different number, and yet it would have said that I was a Frequent Flyer program member on the computer screen in front of them.
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