A Vacation Sensation

July 20

                  Some notes from a ten-day vacation:

                  On the same day we visited the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the Emperor and Empress of Japan touched down in Honolulu.  Why did I feel strange about this, 68 years after the fact?  Maybe I should feel good, given how many of our Japanese brethren surrender their yen in Hawaii now.  Hey, I shouldn’t judge.  I’m right there in the fork-it-over conga line.

                 One of my favorite scenes at the Memorial was an elderly couple and a very polite boy who was presumably their grandson.  Grandpa was wearing a cap which read “World War Two Veteran” on the back.  For someone whose father fought in the South Pacific during the war, this warmed the heart.  Everyone should take their kid or grand-kid to the Memorial.

                I also reflected on how far short of “The Greatest Generation” my generation has fallen.  

                *******

               Airlines blow.  Here’s a great idea:  piss off all your customers.  They’re sure to come back. 

               A certain U.S. based airline which will go nameless, but whose skies aren’t so friendly anymore, nailed us for $140 dollars in tack-on baggage fees round-trip, all for the privilege of losing my wife’s flip-flops. 

               And customer service?  Pish.  On the way back to San Francisco a flight attendant asked me if I wanted to buy a snack and I asked what the choices were.  He said, very cattily, “That was already announced.  Look in the back of the in-flight magazine.”  Excuse me for not being able to hear the menu options in the back of an airplane, over the noise of the jet engine and a crying kid two rows up.  My bad.  I’m sure I would have heard the options being whispered over the in-flight audio system, had I put in my $3.00 earplugs.

              The $9 snack I selected, loosely classified as “food,” was billed as a turkey cheese wrap.  If turkeys taste like Space Food Sticks, and cheese tastes like camel vomit, then yes, it was a turkey cheese wrap.   I jettisoned the cheese and endured the rest of the wrap because I was so hungry.  Yes, we did eat before departure, but it was a five-hour flight with a 30-minute delay before take-off.  You do the math.  My stomach sure did.

             Also, it’s too bad I brought five issues of Sports Illustrated for catch-up reading.  I missed the movie, “Dragonball Evolution.”  I’m hoping the Academy won’t snub this gem.

             Upon landing at SFO we were given the wrong carousel for baggage return.  When we found the correct one, we had to wait one hour before our baggage finally made its way, sans flip-flops, to our waiting hands.  One hour.  Don’t tell me the TSA was to blame for the loss of the ‘flops.  If we’re paying 70 bucks one way for baggage, y’all had better make sure everything arrives intact.   That includes my bobblehead hula girl.  Thanks, ‘ted, for making the evening complete.

             Who is the brainiac who thought up this business model in tough economic times?   Anger your customers by tacking on charges, play fast and loose with the luggage, take your sweet-ass time getting it to the carousel, and charge for food that you wouldn’t feed to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. 

             Listen, I feel very blessed to be able to fly to a wonderful place such as Hawaii, but when we pony up serious cash to fly, we deserve more for the money.  We know airlines had to pay through the nose for fuel last year, and the economy’s tough.  Just raise fares and don’t charge for baggage, and be up front about it.  I’d feel better about that.  I voiced this opinion rather loudly while awaiting baggage and received nods of approval, up and down the carousel.

             Too bad you can’t fly Southwest to Hawaii.  They don’t fake it.  You know you’re cattle.

             *********

             The final leg of the vacation was decidedly less stressful.  After a day at home to unpack, launder and re-pack we took a three-hour drive up to Tahoe.  Arrived a bit too late to see the end of the Celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Sunday.  It was probably good to spare my wife the sight of Charles Barkley’s swing, which has achieved the mathematically impossible:  it actually has more moving parts than it did before the Hank Haney TV series.

             Walking through the Harrah’s lobby afterward I did see Michael Jordan, resplendent in lime-green golf slacks.  I nodded and very coolly said “hey, Michael Jordan.”  I thought it was a pretty clever remark.  He kind of gave me a half smile as if to say, “should I know who the f— you are?”  C’mon Michael, Salt Palace, ’85, your rookie season!  Postgame locker room interview?  How could you forget?  

            Minutes later Tony Romo and Mark Rypien strolled in and got a few gawkers, but somehow it wasn’t quite the same thrill.  A bystander wondered if Jordan headed up to his room.  I said, “if you mean the High-Limit room, yeah, that’s where he went.”  Not a bad idea to look for Charles Barkley there, too.

            Then I saw the crawl on the TV about Tom Watson’s amazing story and heartbreaking loss.  Then I thought, what does this say about golf?  A guy who is about to qualify for Medicare came inches from winning a major.  How difficult can it be?  I remember Ben Crenshaw telling me once that golf is the hardest game to play well.  That might be so, and had Watson won, it would have been the story of the year.  But Greg Norman led after three rounds at age 53 last year, and I saw John Daly parading around Turnberry this weekend.  His slacks could be seen from the Space Station. 

            Is this really an athletic competition?  It’s a competition, to be sure, but I don’t think you can put these guys in the same category as basketball, hockey, soccer, football, and baseball players.  ( Except for maybe the middle-inning relief guy who’s in his third trimester. )  Golf is a game, and perhaps a sub-sport.

            Back on the air Wednesday.

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One Response to “A Vacation Sensation”

  1. Don Says:

    I totally agree about the airlines. Very frustrating situation. More fees, less services and rude customer service representatives…..makes you want to sign up again! As Gary would say, you Bastards!

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