Thursday, August 6, 2009

A (New) Word About Travel

Taking a detour from marketing and advertising, I would like to pass along two observations about travel. More specifically, travelers.

I recently returned from a short trip to Colorado to visit my son. Part of the fun of travel is observing the people around you. Many are out of their element and on their best behavior while traveling. For others, travel brings out the worst. Here are two examples of the latter.

While waiting for a flight in Denver, my wife an I treated ourselves to ice cream. At the table next to ours was a middle aged woman, cautiously guarding her "carry on" luggage, the likes of which exceeded the baggage train of a small army. But what made this woman stand out was her advanced communications skills.

Talking into a cell phone crammed between shoulder and ear, she whined endlessly (at least for the ten minutes we sat there) about how horrible it was to fly, how late her flights were, etc., etc. At the same time, she was texting furiously on a BlackBerry. Doubtless she was enthralling some other poor slob with the same complaints in text form.

In fact, I invented a new word for what that miserable woman was doing: KVEXTING. It is a combination of kvetching and texting. Try it sometime when you have too many friends and want to drop one from your list of favorites.

The second fellow traveler who got my attention (and raised my blood pressure) was also at the Denver airport. This "queen of all air travelers," also a middle aged woman, arrived at the boarding gate in a wheelchair, being pushed by one of the airport skycaps. She painfully and slowly eased herself from the wheelchair to a seat in the waiting area, as the skycap unloaded her trunk-size duffle bag.

Initially, my heart went out to the woman. It must have been very difficult and challenging to travel when she was obviously in such pain, with limited mobility.

My opinion changed pretty dramatically when, once the skycap was out of sight, the woman hopped up and ran lightly over to the ticket counter, leaping over a couple of bags on the way. She was a faker! The woman continued to stroll around the waiting area, talking loudly on her cell phone, while waiting for the flight.

Just prior to boarding, a new skycap arrived with another wheelchair. The "queen" had summoned her chariot! Suddenly the pain and laborious movement returned. She even went so far as to tell the skycap that she could not lift her carry on bag, "Because I have a disability."

When was the last time you heard anyone with a genuine disability say, out loud, "I have a disability."??? My blood was starting to boil.

Naturally, this poor, disabled woman was allowed to board ahead of everybody else. And the flight crew, no doubt, had to help her load her carry on "trunk" into the overhead storage bin. After all, the woman had "a disability!"

There is no doubt in my mind that this woman was pretending to be disabled simply to gain an advantage over other travelers. Was she lazy? Cunning? Or simply so fabulously egotistical that she thought it was OK to use up valuable services that should have been going to those truly in need of the help?

The good news is that 99% of the people we spent our travel time with were friendly, engaging, patient and understanding. It is a shame that a few bad apples can have such a deleterious effect on the rest.

But I still like the idea of "kvexting."

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