Thursday, May 22, 2008

Midlife Awakening

So, I just turned 30. Yep, I am officially no longer a kid. Well I guess that happened a long time ago but that is another story. My wife would say that I have acted 30 for a while. I am not convinced. My next big move to further establish my youngness is to purchase a motorcycle. Yes, I finally got my wife to agree to let me buy one. If you are thinking, what you don't need 'permission' to do something, you are your own man. Well, I am here to tell you (along with every other married man) that the opinion or sanction of your wife is required prior to any major decision. Sure you can be the man and just do it. And some would say that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. This may be true in most situations or relationships, but not with your significant other. She will not let it down, period. Every time that you want to use the thing that you bought or bring up anything related to it, she will remind you that it was not part of a co-op agreement. And you may risk her being her own woman and coming home with a bag full of clothes, new jewelry, or a new man. This is no exaggeration. It has been done and will be done again.

I am so lucky to have someone that understands me. She loves me and lets me do most of what I want. But I still haven't received the okay to skydive. Maybe that will be next... or not. So some may call my getting a motorcycle a pre-midlife crisis, but I say not. It is simply one person realizing that this is something that the person they care about the most wants and letting them do it. This post is for you Babe. I love you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicken, Dodo, Pigeon?

People are an interesting sort. Have you ever been somewhere (a restaurant, mall, movie theater, or outdoor festival) and found yourself just watching? I often find myself doing this on a near subconscious level. Most often, I'll be sitting at an airport gate awaiting my next airplane ride. My headphones are in and my eyes glazed over. It may partially be due to the fact that normally my flights are early on Monday mornings, but I think not. I tend to be a morning person. Once I am awake, I am awake. And anyone that knows me knows that I notice things. Sometimes it's big things like who was at a meeting and how did we drive there. And sometimes it's little things like what people were wearing, or how many pencils and pens were on the table at the meeting and what color they were. So maybe my voyeuristic tendencies are just another part of my noticing things but I do see people...and they're not dead.

So back at the airport, I notice the 'seasoned businessman'. I do not identify with this group although I wear a shirt and tie, enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal, and get excited at the possibility of getting a seat in the exit row. There is the young family. Husband and wife clearly showing the signs of many sleepless nights and sporting their venti cups of morning juice. While their kids run around the waiting area and other passengers hope that they won't be sitting near them. I see the 'girlfriends'. They are young twenty-somethings who don't stop talking and flipping the pages of the resent issue of Cosmo looking for tips on how to better themselves. And there are 'the geriatrics'. The older folks shuffle around the airport smelling of soup and medicated lotion and ride either in wheelchairs pushed by underpaid airport aides or in carts cruising through the airport with the driver shouting and honking their horn for you to yield. But what would society be if all were alike?

I was walking to my gate this Monday after passing through the TSA checkpoint. I continue down a wide hallway with several other people. I tend to walk quickly and so do not normally pace myself with others. Most people adhere to the 'rules of the road' and stay to the right. But there are always dissidents. I see a woman about 20 yards ahead of me. We make eye contact and are on a direct collision course. Neither of us diverge from our path. As we get closer, I go right. And she goes left. Then I go left. And she goes right. As this short dance seems to continue, I stop. I let her choose a path and pass me without further confusion. I get to my gate and find a seat. I began to reflect on my near encounter. When two people do this with their cars, bikes, or motorcycles it is intentional and we call it chicken. What do you call it when to people do this while walking and it's unintentional? Perhaps Dodo, or Pigeon.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fool Me Once - Shame On You, Fool Me Twice - Shame On Me

I spent another week in Santa Fe, NM. I have to put a plug in for Hilton before I continue with my story. If Hilton had been taken private last year by Blackstone, I would buy the stock. Now I enjoy financial analysis as much as the next guy, but everyone knows that can only take you so far. Most people make stock purchases with their emotions not their minds. A perfect example of this occurs daily. People don't want to do the research themselves to determine whether or not a company merits the asking price in the markets. So what do they do? They do what Americans do television! A passionate financial guru yells that this company is a good deal and that another is as good as throwing your money in the garbage. And what inevitably happens? People buy the one and sell the other. So enough to justify my purchasing desires. I stayed at a Homewood Suites (Hilton affiliated brand) this week. If you look at the sidebar, you know that I travel a bit. I decided early on that I would be loyal to one hotel chain in anticipation of climbing their loyalty program ladder. Hilton's program requires that you have a minimum of 60 nights on a rolling calendar basis to qualify for their top-tier rating of Diamond. I have reached that rating and maintained it for nearly 2 years now. This is not necessarily something that I'm proud of. But anyway, as a Diamond member you are entitled to complimentary breakfasts, snacks in your room, and room upgrades. I have received the first two benefits on nearly every visit. This was the first stay when I was 'awarded' a room upgrade. They put me in the Executive Suite. It was more like a 1200 SF townhouse. The room even came with a complimentary bottle of California Sparkling Wine. I was impressed to say the least. My favorite was laying in the large soaking tub watching the Jazz play the Lakers on television. Definitely something that I need to look into putting into our own house. Enough on that.

I was working at the same location in Santa Fe near the downtown plaza. The weather was cold and rainy. The new sod on the plaza was green and the leaves on all the trees had started to transform the area from an eerie old historical landmark to an inviting place where one would enjoy spending lunch under one of the mature shade trees. One day at lunch, I was walking around the plaza looking for something to eat. I wasn't too hungry but needed something to tide me over. I walked past the infamous Subway and stopped. I don't mind Subway and now I know how they work their 5 dollar special. So, I decided to try again. The store was packed. I stood in line and looked to the menu to make my decision. To my surprise, they had changed the menu! There were no more checks or circles to look for. The menu had a separate section where it plainly stated which subs were included in the special. To my dismay, they had removed the turkey from the list so I went with the roasted chicken. I chose my toppings, and arrived at the register. The attendant asked me would I like a combo meal. I looked up at the menu and saw that you could add a drink and chips for an additional 2 dollars. This would normally cost near 3 dollars if purchased separately. I agreed. After paying, I sat down to eat and was reviewing my receipt. I thought that Santa Fe (and New Mexico in general) just had higher sales tax. And they do, but the attendant had charged me the full price of the drink and chips separately. Not at the combo deal pricing. As I approached the counter to ask about the error, I overheard the attendant explain to another customer that it was not fair to allow a discount on top of a discount. This is ridiculous! This would make about as much sense as McDonalds discounting their BigMac sandwich to increase sales but then not allow you to purchase a combo meal with it but rather charge you the full price if you were to buy your fries and drink separately. I returned to my seat feeling shamed that I had fallen for a marketing scam related to the allusive '5 dollar foot long'. I can say that I will not give Subway another chance. Quiznos, here I come.