'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
WELCOME ABOARD ‘CATTLE CAR AIRLINES’
What a coincidence. The very day I marched into my office and loudly announced that I would never, ever, EVER fly again on company business, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pushed for passage of an “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights.”
“Right on, Chuck!” I declared when I heard on the radio that the senator from New York is urging Congress to pass a law that will, in his words, “say to the airlines you can't treat people like cattle on a cattle car.”
I had returned from a business trip to Atlanta the day before. But I was suppose to return two days before. My flight from Atlanta boarded and pulled away from the gate on time, but then we sat on the tarmac for over an hour because, as the pilot told us on the P.A. system, “Skronz gizz urf snarkle wubba flizzip.” Well, that’s what it sounded like. Either those multi-million dollar airplanes are fitted with two-dollar Radio Shack speakers, or our pilot used to be Charlie Brown’s school teacher. The flight attendant translated for us: “Severe weather in Philadelphia. Can’t take off till we know we can land.”
When we finally reached Philly, we again sat on the tarmac for over an hour before a gate was available. All-the-while the departure time for my connecting flight to Hartford drew near. Although I was unaware of Sen. Schumer’s activities, I used his exact phrase when I commented to the guy sitting next to me that they were treating us like cattle on a cattle car. (To be honest, however, since I was not born a Bovine-American, I really shouldn’t presume to know what a genuine cattle car experience is like.)
When we finally were allowed to de-plane (Is “de-plane” a real word, or just a snippet of dialog from that old show “Fantasy Island”? “De plane, Boss, de plane!!”), I sprinted about a half-mile through the terminals to try and catch the Hartford flight. “Sprinted” is what the journey felt like, but for a 52-year-old guy with two heavy bags and leg cramps from sitting for five hours, the journey probably appeared more like the lumbering of a wounded bear with one foot caught in a steel trap.
Anyway, I missed the flight—the last one to Hartford that night—and I had to scramble to find a hotel room, after apologizing to my heart for the impromptu half-mile stress test.
The airline’s policy is they will pay for the hotel room only if the delay was caused by mechanical problems—their fault. But if the delay was caused by weather—someone else’s fault, I’m blaming Scot Haney—they offer merely a “discounted” room rate. The cost of the cab rides to the hotel at midnight and back to the airport at 6 a.m. more than ate up any “discount” I received.
So I ended up getting home a day late, and I was completely frustrated with a long list of people: the flight attendant, the pilot, the air traffic controller, the lady at the customer service counter, Orville and Wilbur Wright, and God for sending thunderstorms to Philadelphia. (On further review, even though Scot Haney is the most powerful man in the TV weather business, I don’t think he has THAT kind of power.)
After vowing to my co-workers that I would never fly again, my boss said, “Cry me a river. There’s a sales meeting in Wisconsin next month. Book your flight today before the rates go up.”
Oh well. Maybe the weather will be better next month. I should call Scot and ask if he can help.
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