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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Today’s traffic haiku

Endless parking lot,

glistening in the sunshine.

No, it’s 405.

Pirates Killed Tom Sawyer

I just survived a week at Disneyland (“The Crowdedest Place on Earth!”). Although I’ve been to the various Disney parks on many occasions, this time something had changed:

It's not an exaggeration!

Pirates have conquered the Magic Kingdom.

I first noticed this while walking down Main Street. In lieu of mouse ears or fairy wings, kids now stalked the grounds wearing cutlasses and eye patches. I know pirates have always been one of the popular themes at Disney, due to their famous “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. But with the overwhelming popularity of the recent movie series, it’s clear that Mickey and the other traditional characters have one foot, paw, or wing in the unemployment line.

The “Pirates” ride itself, formerly a rambunctious romp to the hearty strains of “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!” is now a paean to drug-addled gay pirate Jack Sparrow. While one can understand Disney’s cashing in on the popularity of the movies and updating the ride to form a closer tie-in, what is not so clear is why the Disney overlords also decided to change Tom Sawyer’s Island to The Pirates’ Lair. Perhaps midwestern Tom was too Americana for California. Or perhaps they were attracted to another tie-in, with those lovable Somali scalawags that have been in the news of late. Sure, throughout history pirates have been murderous thieves and rapists, but that’s better than associating the Disney label with some middle-America kid from a red state with his capitalist, white-washing notions. To hammer this in further, they even have Tom’s grave on the island! (I couldn’t find the marker for the spot where the pirates no doubt brutally raped and murdered Becky Thatcher, but maybe I just missed it.)

Rest in peace, Tom

So there we have it. Kids are turning aside from Tinkerbell face paint in favor of Jack Sparrow bandanas and heavy eyeliner. Mickey Mouse ears have been replaced with bloodstained swords, and the Jolly Roger will soon be fluttering over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

But I, for one, miss good ol’ Tom. Rest in peace, lad. Maybe Disney will make a series of blockbuster movies about your adventures some day, and you’ll be allowed back in your old haunts. Or maybe the Disney executives will realize that Mark Twain’s all-American boy deserves better homage than the most villainous scum of the earth, and they’ll put family values over greedy corporate profit.

But probably not.

If only I’d been radioactive…

You’re never too old or too cynical to be taken. At least, I’m not.

I recently took a week-long trip via Delta airlines. As I booked my reservation I was given the option to buy trip insurance. “Ha!” thinks I. “I didn’t fall off the turnip wagon yesterday!” But the info said “in case you need to change your reservation.” Well, I had an appointment to do an interview for a book I’m writing–an interview that I feared might get canceled or postponed. Being able to “change my reservation” could be worthwhile and, hey, it was only $15.

As embarrassing as this is to post on the Interwide Worldweb–I did it.

Sure ’nuff, my appointment fell through. “Can you reschedule?” they asked?

“Can I ever!” I cried. “I’ve got trip insurance!”

Okay, I suppose the fault is mine. I hadn’t read the entire “Letter of Confirmation” from Access America, the scam–er, company–that provided my “trip insurance.” I called Access, only to be told I had to call Delta. I called Delta, and was told I had to call Access. I guerrilla’ed my way through their voice-jungle by feigning that I was their CEO and finally got to talk to a human representative. I carefully explained my situation. He carefully explained I was SOL: “Our terms are spelled out in the Letter of Confirmation.”

When I got home, I pulled up the PDF file they had sent me. The Letter of Confirmation is nine pages of dense lawyer speak that starts off:

  • “BCS Insurance Company, herein referred to as the Company, will pay You the insurance benefits described in this Policy. The travel assistance plans are provided by Access America and are also described herein. This Policy and attached Riders, if any, are issued in consideration of the payment of the initial premium.”

Nine pages. So I chewed a bottle of amphetamines and waded in. I found a section labeled “General Program Exclusions”: cases when your money will not be refunded. These included:

  • Pregnancy
  • Mental or nervous disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • War, civil war, or unrest
  • Injury from pretty much any sport or activity, except chess and non-violent board games
  • Nuclear radiation or radioactive contanimation
  • Any event I could have forseen.

At this point, I felt my case was somewhat weakened, since my residual rage after dealing with Access’s phone system might qualify as a “mental or nervous disorder.” Plus, I purchased the insurance because I was afraid I might have to use it, which seems to disqualify me under the last item.

Still, I plunged on to the section entitled, “Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection.” I discovered that I could, indeed, get reimbursed had my trip been interrupted by such things as:

  • My death
  • Me or a Traveling Companion being “hijacked”
  • My Primary Residence being rendered uninhabitable by Natural Disaster
  • A terrorist act committed by “an organized terrorist group (recognized as such by the U.S. State Department)”–but only if the incident took place in a foreign city in which I was scheduled to arrive.

Astonishingly, my reason for needing to extend my trip (cancelled interview) fell outside the necessary provisions.

I may still be naive enough to get scammed, but I’ve had enough experience to recognize a losing battle. So I gave up, forfeiting my $15. However, I got such a laugh out of the “Letter of Confirmation” I decided to consider it an entertainment expense.

Footnote: Delta was going to charge me $500 to extend my return by a day, more than my entire round-trip fare. I declined. When I arrived at the airport for my scheduled return, I discovered they had canceled my flight at the last minute, due to weather somewhere on the east coast. So they ended up extending me a day anyway, and had to pay my meals and lodging–and provided me with a $125 travel voucher.

Karma. (But I still missed my interview.)