Saturday, April 30, 2016

Elevator Ups and Downs (Sometimes)

Two recent news stories brought elevator incidents to mind. In the first, a group of football heroes grossly exceeded a load limit and spent considerable time in limbo before help arrived. In the other, a group of police officers got stuck, only to be rescued by firemen who had lots of fun maximizing the cops' embarrassment by taking selfies that made it onto the internet.

Years ago, beautiful wife Sandy and I were in an elevator at the Salt Lake City airport when it stalled between floors. It's an eerie feeling. We were in close quarters in total darkness. Everyone except one man stayed calm until maintenance people got the elevator moving. That man lost it to the extent of screaming and thrashing around in the confined space. However, when we got out, he appeared to revert quickly to normal behavior.

I didn't know that!

My other elevator incident happened a few years later. I was sent to Albuquerque on Forest Service business. My neighbor's son had just built a new home there. He invited me to an early evening golf game, and his wife tacked on a dinner invitation. I brought my putter along with an eye to having at least one familiar club to buoy my confidence on a strange course.

My friend planned to pick me up at the hotel where our meeting was held and I was staying. He urged me to be prompt. We would try to get in 9 holes at University Course-North. Tricky winds were known to come up there in late daylight hours, so we would have to start play promptly to finish our game in calm conditions.

Unfortunately, my meeting dragged on beyond the appointed closing time. When we finally adjourned, I rushed through the lobby waving to my friend, zipped up to my 12th floor room in the elevator, changed shirts, grabbed my putter, and ran back to re-board the elevator. I was fairly close to being on schedule.

But at the first stop, a hotel maintenance lady got on. She squirted the control panel with cleaner and wiped it vigorously with a large cloth, hitting every button. The result was an immaculate button panel, but we stopped at each remaining floor--all 10 of them. I thought about getting off and running down the stairs, but that wasn't appealing following so closely on my frantic efforts to get up to my room.

We were just finishing the third hole on the North Course when a gust of wind blew my ball off the green. Further play was impossible.

Had I known about the advice with the control panel illustration shown here, I could have enjoyed a complete golf game. Oh well, the dinner was both complete and enjoyable.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Non-appreciation of Jimmy John's

A page 13 article in my Kalamazoo Gazette invited readers to "Get ready for a freaky cool deal at Jimmy John's. $1 subs for everyone!" The story went on to describe what sandwiches were included, for whom, and when.

Seemed strange to me that a daily paper would run a pr piece for a fast-food restaurant as a news item. When I got to page 18, the motive was revealed. Profit had overcome good journalism, something becoming common nowadays. Jimmy John's had paid the Gazette for a full-page color ad proudly announcing "Customer Appreciation Day Today Only!" The news item was a little kickback.

The ad said a customer could buy one of seven types of subs for $1 at a participating store today only from 11 a.m. to 2 p..m. (emphasis added).

Just happens beautiful wife Sandy and I planned to be shopping close to a Jimmy John's around noon and would be doing lunch in that area. Jimmy John's opened a new outlet near us this year, and we've found their sandwiches to be first-rate. What a deal! A nice lunch discount had dropped in our laps.

Except that it hadn't. Our newspaper never is delivered before 3 p.m. on a weekday. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Gazette subscribers have similar delivery times. Sure enough, 2 p.m. was long past today when I received the generous offer.

One might ask Jimmy John's advertising department: "What took you so long to understand you've antagonized customers instead of pleasing them with the worst possible timing of an appreciation day ad?"  The Gazette advertising department might well consider the same question.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Careful What You Wish For, Senators

Today, President Obama is speaking at the University of Chicago, where he taught constitutional law for 12 years early in his career. It's a sure bet the thrust of his remarks will be pointed criticism of Republicans who have refused to consider his nomination of Merrick Garland for the current Supreme Court vacancy.

Obama's appearance will be just another salvo in the attacks on Republican obstructionism that are part of the Democratic Party election campaign strategy. What the GOP leadership is doing is perfectly legal, but criticism about stalling by Congress does resonate with many voters. Nevertheless, we can be sure that the president's message today will have no influence on Republican legislators.

The GOP stall might not be smart

What would strike terror into GOP hearts would be a surprise hint by Obama that he might have some interest in Supreme Court service. After all, he is an expert on constitutional law as his Chicago Law School appearance reminds us. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, which appears the most likely scenario at the moment, what's to stop her from withdrawing the Garland nomination and appointing Barack Obama?

Were I a GOP senator, I might be pushing hard for a quick opening of hearings on the Garland candidacy. He seems likely to be much more conservative than at least one of the alternatives.