Puppies and the POTUS

(Editor’s note: The following tongue-in-cheek piece claims to be based on recent actual news stories concerning new policies at Southwest Airlines and some 300 Starwood Hotels.) It was a sleepy day in Waco as I languished at the airport. Though a dog day afternoon, the airplane carrying POTUS (President of the United States) was beginning its descent. Excitement abounded at the prospect of the arrival of President George W. Bush. There was little mention that my commuter flight was delayed. I scrounged for left-behind newspapers, batting .500 with one old copy and a current edition. The old paper had a story about Southwest Airlines’ new ticketing requirements for another POTUS passengers of the ultra size. And what’s this in today’s paper about dogs being pampered guests at Starwood Hotels’ Pampered if they weigh under 40 pounds, that is, so here’s yet another POTUS privileges for “pets of the under sized.” It was Friday afternoon and hot; I nodded off. * * * * * In my dream, I was a full-grown Dennis the Menace, making ends meet with two part-time jobs’a ticketing agent for Southwest by day, and a Starwood Hotel desk clerk at night. I couldn’t wait to impose new ticketing rules at SWA and to “greet” over-sized mutts at Starwood. In both cases, I was King Kong; I would decide who was super-sized. I could imagine fuming passengers infuriated at being double-billed, and over-sized dogs wandering around the compound out back instead of luxuriating in their heavenly doggy beds described in the “come on in” literature. There were many slips twixt the cup and the lip. Several passengers objected to the new policy. I explained that maybe management might come up with a derriere box, sort of like the ones used to determine if carry-on luggage was acceptable. There were unprintable expressions of indignation, so I added that before long, we might also have electronic means of determining the maximum area passengers would be allowed to “bottom out.” There already was talk of it’the new DMD machine (derriere-measuring device, or, simply stated, the “size-MO-graph.”) Additional harrummmphhhs followed, so I issued traditional single tickets when I saw hands reaching for my throat. After all, the plane was only half full. * * * * * Ah, additional fun awaited at the hotel. I had read all the promotional literature about new policies to prove that our hotel was “pet friendly.” Bowsers and Fifis were invited to join their masters in four-star suites, where special beds, feeding mats, food bowls, doggy robes and other pooch-pampering “come-ons” beckoned. Here again, I would be the sole judge as to whether canine guests weighed under the 40-pound maximum. The first guest appeared for check-in, and at the other end of the leash, a full-grown sheep dog. “How much does the dog weigh’,” I asked, opting not to begin with the hackneyed hen-weigh joke”. I was sure that the animal, big enough to sub for a sick steed at the pony ride, weighed well above our announced maximum. “Oh, 40-45 pounds,” he answered. A fang was bared, and the dog glared at me. I started to mention that if they jogged around the block a few times, maybe the weight would be okay. But I saw additional fangs bared; there were no hints of canine friendliness. The dog strained at the leash. “Welcome to Starwood,” I said, smiling broadly, pausing to ask another guest about her room preference’smoking or non-smoking, doggy or non-doggy. * * * * * In my dream, I wished to work where I didn’t have to make such weighty decisions. (A friend working at a non-descript hotel laughed at me. “At our place, guests can take in whatever fits through the door,” he joked.) I opted for a “career change,” taking a job sacking groceries. I assumed that I would need to make NO DECISIONS. I would “sack away,” asking only, “Paper or plastic'” The very first customer, however, was tired of making choices. He had to choose between cart or basket, wheat or rye, whole milk or skim, crushed or sliced, cash or charge and debit or credit. When I asked if he wanted paper or plastic, he demanded that I choose. “I can’t,” I answered, “Baggers can’t be choosers.” * * * * * Nap time was over when I heard the announcement, “This is your final boarding call.” Not wide awake’more like narrow awake’I hurried to the plane, joining one other passenger already buckled in for the short flight to Houston. I asked him if he had known prior to arrival at the airport what POTUS means. He did. During the flight, I told him about the “passenger and pet” POTUSes. Meanwhile, Air Force One was touching down. The real POTUS was only miles away from his vacation hiatus in Crawford. Dr. Don Newbury, longtime Texas educator, is now an author/speaker/columnist in Burleson, Texas, a few miles south of senility. He invites readers to contact him by phone at 817-447-3872 or by e-mail, newbury@speakerdoc.com. He is convinced that certain corporate policies are of the CTD variety. (CTD = “circling the drain.”) *Oh, you remember the reference to a hen weigh, and asking, “What’s a hen weigh'” The smart aleck answer was, “Oh, two, two-and-a-half pounds.”

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