As a celebration of our college graduation, some
friends and I drove to
red canoe, for Skip), coolers of beer, and bottles of Tequila, all floating and
slowly paddling our way through the rapids and eddies of Central Texas’ biggest
party river. During the summer months,
that river is packed with folks representing all ages (and sizes) in
inner-tubes (spelled “TOOB” by the local renters). We’d rent canoes and have them towed about 12
miles up the river from the base of the party goers. That way, we would see the most people and
cause the most general mayhem on our way down.
Those trips were great. We continued that tradition well past college
and into our professional lives. Our
cars got a lot nicer, our clothes were better tailored, our sunglasses were a
bit trendier, and the dinners around the campfire got a bit more expensive
(steaks instead of “Chub” grade ground beef), but the beers were
still cold, the Tequila still warm, and the journey down the river was still a
hoot. Finally, around 1990, we noticed a
distinct shortage of canoes to rent.
Insurance premiums were up and it was harder for the rental groups to
make a profit, what with all the drunkards losing canoes on the rapids and what
not. Go figure…
That last year, a few of us bought one of the old
rental canoes after the trip was over (secretively, of course) and drove it all
the way home to present to our “leader” of sorts, Skip, at his
wedding. It was too big to wrap, so we
just shoved it under the gift table and let it poke out either side. He broke down and cried when he finally saw
it. That was the official end of the
Air travel has changed too. Early on, air travel was a very formal
event. Suits and ties and hats and
jackets were the norm and only “people of means” traveled anywhere by
air. Today, of course, airplanes are
filled with barefooted screaming children and with the rude mouth-breathing filthy
t-shirt clad parents who sired them.
Today, I read a headline that said, “Fuel Prices Promise Increase
in Air Fare, Can only the ‘Rich’ Afford to Fly?” and I found myself thinking, “Oh, I hope so!”
The airlines are doing the same thing the canoe
renters used to do. They’re hiding the
increased cost of fuel behind a slew of other rinky-dink charges. Do they think we won’t notice? Now it costs extra to check a bag (more if
you check it by the curb with a skycap), to drink a soda, to sit near the
front, or to stand-by for an earlier flight, etc. Canoe renters wanted more for camp-sites,
camping supplies, paddles, etc. Why
don’t they just tell us, “It costs us more to provide the service, so we
will have to charge more to stay in business?” Honestly, I wouldn’t mind paying a $100 fuel
up-charge if it meant they wouldn’t nickel and dime me to death before I even
board the plane!
If they want to pursue more of the ridiculous
little charges, then they should use the same technique to drive their
incentive. If they depart the gate late,
each passenger should get $10. If they
arrive late or lose your bag, that’s $50!
Fuel is necessary and you have to burn it to get there. If I drive, rather than fly, I know this and
I have to be willing to pay the price.
My next trip is from
Maybe I should call Skip and borrow his canoe!