For What It’s Worth, My Two Bucks

A friend of mine took advantage of a local restaurant offering a free burger and fries to veterans yesterday, and good for him and them.

He didn’t expect it, though.  It was just a nice thing for them to do, and maybe good publicity and maybe he’ll eat there more often because of it, and so on.  This is how it works and we all understand that.

So last week, on finding out that most airlines no longer offered discounts/special deals for emergency, last-minute trips, particularly in bereavement situations, I surprised myself by being a little irritated.  Why should Alaska or Delta or whatever care that we had a death in the family?  Particularly now, when they’re all hemorrhaging and slipping back and forth between managed bankruptcy and something that resembles solvency like a Star Trek character caught in a temporal distortion?  It’s none of their business.

It’s just that I remember nine years ago, when my dad died and tickets had to be bought, getting them for half price and with open-ended returns.  It was a nice thing for them to do, is all.  There’s no reason I should expect it to continue.

It just irked me, I guess, the way inflation – a perfectly legitimate expression of all sorts of economic factors – irks me.  It limited my trip to Texas, in fact, since staying an extra day or two would have added nearly $1000 to the cost of our tickets, for unclear reasons, and I decided I’d paid enough.  Again, as if I deserve special consideration.  It was not my finest rational moment, but then.

On the other hand, it was a thoroughly smooth trip.  Both ways we had Denver layovers that lasted approximately the amount of time it took to walk from one gate to another, maybe stopping for a quick personal pizza for John.

And we were pleasantly surprised by Frontier Airlines, which I’ve flown before many times but never quite as impressively.  Given that I had limited choices at the last minute, we flew in their Classic Plus seats, which is their downsized version of first class; smaller seats but tons of leg room, free TV on those little Frontier screens (hey, I’ve sort of missed The Food Network), free drinks (not an issue), early boarding, etc.  All for an extra 30 bucks, which I had to pay anyway.  Add to that their adoption of a quasi-Southwest attitude toward getting everyone on and buckled in quickly, and overall friendliness, and there’s my endorsement of the day.  It made things easier.

Along with an efficient car rental situation at DFW, an inexpensive if a little sketchy Best Western hotel in Gun Barrel, and my handy iPhone GPS app (MotionX; it costs me I think 10 bucks a year for voice guidance and I use it a lot; and it directed me in Dallas flawlessly), and really, I have no complaints.  It was an easy trip in those respects.

My neighbors kindly picked up my mail, traffic was never an issue, and aside from an unexpected cold snap here at home (and me turning off all the heat before leaving, just because I’m paranoid like that) that resulted in arriving home to an ice box that literally took 24 hours to warm completely up, a sad trip was also an uneventful one in terms of the details, for which I’m grateful.

Years ago, in a Larry King interview, Sid Caesar related one of his secrets to long life and happiness.  “Just pay the two bucks,” he said.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, in other words, the insignificant stuff, the little details that mean nothing when it comes to love and grief and family.  Just pay the two bucks, don’t think about it, stretch your legs if you can, and concentrate on what’s important.  Lesson learned, once again.

And keep at least some heat on in the house.  Really.  You might be surprised at how cold it gets.

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