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Monday, July 23, 2007 ISSUE #465
 

Contemplating travel woes in a rockin' airport

#465, July 23, 2007

COLUMBUS: After spending three days in California, and then another three days in Florida, I was not exactly prepared for an extra day in the Charlotte airport. But that's what happened last Thursday night and Friday as these airline woes you've read so much about kinda struck home.

Now, mind you, I ain't complaining. If an airplane is going to have engine problems, I prefer it happen while still on the ground. And if you're stuck in an airport, there's worse places to be than one populated with 103 old-fashioned rocking chairs. I was there long enough to check 'em out, every single one, but seldom found one vacant. The occupancy rate of those rockers must have been 99.9%, which also equaled the occupancy of all outbound flights, at least the ones headed to Ohio. The contentment on the faces of those folks pleasantly rocking the minutes away was in sharp contrast to the rushed look of those hurrying to catch their next flight. Of course I was returning from an engagement rather than heading to one, which tends to lower the pressure quite a bit.

One of our biggest and most profitable companies is raising the price of their product, by about a dollar a gallon. If it was Exxon you would say it's outrageous and demand a Congressional investigation. If it was Borden's or Meadow Gold Dairy you would have your children march in protest. But since it's Starbucks, there has been nary a peep. We'll wait in line tomorrow morning, pay $2 a cup ($15 to $20 a gallon), then pull into the next gas station and yell if there's even one car ahead of us or the price is anywhere near $3.

But if it takes your mind off an 18-hour layover, or lets you block out the day-to-day worries long enough to plan for a brighter future, then what's another dime a cup?

You know, both California and Florida would gain by installing more rocking chairs. So might Starbucks.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(Here are a few highlights from a "debate" between Florida and California. In total it is 9 pages.)

"FLA: We have the longest seacoast of any state in the Union. We have 1145 miles, and that is 100 miles more than California has.
CAL: Now what has a long seacoast got to do with the quality of a state? According to the latest returns from Rand McNally, Siberia has quite a mess of seacoast, but I have never heard of any emigration going there – that is, voluntarily – on account of their seacoast. Clam diggers and lighthouse keepers are the only two professions that I know of that thrive off long coast lines.

FLA: We have 3,000,000 acres of Everglades, and when they are drained they will support 3,000,000 people.
CAL: California has 20,000,000 acres of mountains, and when they are leveled out they will support the whole of India, with the Chinese nation invited as week-end guests. I know you may ask, "Who is going to flatten the mountains?" Why, the same fellow that drains the Everglades. In fact, to show them that there is no hard feeling, and that we don't even look on them as a competitor, we will give them enough dirt to fill up their Everglades. They can't drain their Everglades, as there is nowhere to put the water. If they drain them into the ocean, why, that will raise the ocean higher than the land.

FLA: Lake Okeechobee has 1,000,000 acres in it. If drained, it would support 1,000,000 people. In one year it produced $1,000,000 worth of catfish.
CAL: Why, even the name "Okeechobee" – you can't say it without sneezing. They say 1,000,000 acres and $1,000,000 worth of catfish; that's a dollar's worth of catfish to the acre, but they don't say how many catfish are a dollar's worth. If I was going to buy catfish an acre wouldn't hold a dollar's worth, even if I was fond of catfish. This is the first time I ever heard of selling fish by the acre. They say if the lake was drained it would support 1,000,000 people, so an acre will support either a human or a catfish. So this question the state has to decide is what to keep on there, catfish or humans? Up to the present, catfish have won. So, if you buy an acre of Lake Okeechobee, your deed will call for one acre and a dollar's worth of catfish. Of course, when you catch him and he is two dollars' worth of catfish, why, then you have to buy another acre or give your neighbor half a catfish. So it looks like a pretty tough job in mathematics down there to divide up your acres, your water, your catfish and your humans.

FLA: Lots of people think that Florida is low, but we have a point which is some 310 feet high.
CAL: Why, Florida is so low it's the only country in the world where you have to climb a ladder to get into the ocean. As for this place they speak of – the Alps of Florida! No native Floridian has ever been able to reach the top. When they get up around 200 feet above sea level the altitude gets 'em. About timber line is as far as they can go.

FLA: We are known for our oranges.
CAL: I will admit there is a bootleg variety of orange that thrives up to the size of a green plum on the banks of your swamps; but as for being called an orange, that is only done, of course, through a sense of humor. We take Florida oranges to California, dry them and use them for golf balls. As for taste, they resemble the green persimmon.

FLA: Our grapefruit sells for about $10,000,000 a year, and we think it is the best in the world.
CAL: We use the juice of your grapefruit as a fly spray. We had no idea anyone ate them.

FLA: Our oranges alone in 1924 brought us in $15,000,000.
CAL: That would just about pay for the labels on the ones we shipped."

(Published in the Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1926)


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