Saturday, November 06, 2010

Half a Movie

Okay, let me see if I can return to some semblance of a normal posting schedule around here. I'm going to start with every second day, and if I get far enough ahead to take me through the Cambodia trip, I'll come back and fill some in.

I wake up and there's a text from the a.m. pilot, asking me to call her when I'm up. They didn't fly this morning, because the weather isn't suitable. I call and we meet downstairs for breakfast: first breakfast for me and second breakfast for her. I guess we're being good little hobbitses today. There are zebras loose in the streets of some American suburb on the TV news. The cops are running around trying to catch them,and they keep eluding capture. The zebras are lucky they didn't get tased. I adore zebras. Their stripes are mesmerizing.

The weather is still unsuitable and forecast to remain so all day. We mooch a ride from our maintenance guy out to airplane to pay for last night's fuel and to get the aircraft journey log in order to complete the weekly company paperwork. And that's pretty much it for our official duties today.

I go back to the hotel room and seeing as there is still no Internet I turn on the TV, The Space channel is running all the Star Wars movies in order, so I leave it on that. It's the one with the Ewoks. The top portion of the TV doesn't work at all now, so I see feet and people falling to the ground. but not people being hit. it lends a whole new meaning to "I watched half a movie."

I leave the "do not disturb" sign on the hotel door, because I don't need the room cleaned again, but I attach another note to it "unless you're fixing the TV!" because I don't want the TV repair person to think I'm sleeping and pass me by. As I'm putting it up, the cleaner (I partly want to say "chambermaid" but I'm sure that went out with "stewardess") expresses surprise that it still hasn't been fixed and says she called maintenance again for me.

We go out to lunch. Same restaurant, same waitress. She's coming around, at least looks at us now. It's cheesecake day today. Yum. The service is really really slow here, especially at the end of the meal when it comes to getting a bill and getting payment collected. Usually we just go up to the till, but we don't have anything else to do, so we just wait until the whole transaction is complete, with fifteen to twenty minute gaps between each stage.

Back at my room the "do not disturb" sign looks slightly disturbed. I enter hopefully, but my note is still on the TV. I turn the set on anyway and then realize that it is a new note, on paper torn from the same notepad and taped in the same place, saying that they will bring a new TV.

I'm sure many of you are, so for the record I am aware enough to be embarrassed that here I am complaining about hotel amenities like TV and Internet, while preparing to build someone a home with no TV, Internet, or even electricity. It goes to show how technology can make us miserable. There's a "100 Items" meme where people reduce their possessions to just one hundred items. Hard. I don't think I could become a Buddhist. I love my stuff. I'll have to think about it.

Today I'm spared the introspection, as the maintenance guy brings me a new TV. I blog while Return of the Jedi plays in the background twice in a row. Damn those Ewoks are ugly. Both halves.


dpierce said...

I'm sure many of you are ...

I think it boils down to expectations. If you go to a place aware you won't have TV or Internet, it's no big deal.

But if you march up to your room expecting normal hotel-things (hot water, door locks, towels, etc), and they're not there, it's human nature to be irritated. You (or your customer at least) are paying for all the advertised features, after all.

It's funny the things you miss and don't miss when you travel.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Trix: remind me of a morsel of wisdom from the medical world (diagnostic part) that we can all use when troubleshooting: "If you think you hear hoof-beats, look for horses, not zebras."

Enjoy Indochina.


Sarah said...

I don't ordinarily feel guilty for having more than the very poor - just fortunate - and I try to help when I can.

Christians say "love of money is the root of all evil" ( 1 Timothy 6:10 ). Buddhists say attachment, including grasping for material things is the problem... not just having access to stuff.

Unknown said...

Ahh, It's a paradox of sorts, really.

I have often wondered if"first world" people actually work to be able to afford the gismos that save them the time to be able to work!

Sure, the washing-machine, vacuum -cleaner,Microwave, toaster and 'Fridge are all cost-effective time-savers...but many others are in a grey-area.

I heard of a groundworks company boss who immediately sacked any operator who hadn't greased their digger/dozer/crane/whatever that morning.....weigh up the cost of grease,labour and lost profit on that hour a day and it' was probably cheaper to work it into the ground and sell it on!
I,m quite happy to wild-camp without bed/mat etc. as long as i'm warm and dry. OTOH, If i'm paying for a specific standard of hotel, they'd better deliver.

It's a noble thing you are doing in Cambodia. Hopefully, this method of aid will ensure that graft and corruption will be bypassed and most of the resources will actually get to those in greatest need.

As a born cynic, I can't help wondering why 3 generation's worth of help has failed to help the poorer nations become self-sufficient. (current UK TV ad's for potable water-supplies in the African and Indian really mean they haven't learned to dig wells and make basic manual pumps in 50 years??? At least your way delivers the materials and, hopefully, the training for the next generation to be long before we are faced with a similar problem in Mugabe's wasteland?.....Grr, Trix, you've set me thinking about it all, again!

Aviatrix said...

I'm kind of hoping that the label "Africa" is misleading and that we're not helping the same people over and over again, that the people we helped in the 1970s are digging their own wells and solving their own problems now, and that it's simply ignorance of geography that makes it seem as though it's the same helpless people.

It would be better if people could help one another and themselves. I hope too that the world is getting better at delivering aid in a sustainable way.

A Squared said...

I heard of a groundworks company boss who immediately sacked any operator who hadn't greased their digger/dozer/crane/whatever that morning.....weigh up the cost of grease,labour and lost profit on that hour a day and it' was probably cheaper to work it into the ground and sell it on!

I'm guessing you've never actually been in a situation to test your theory on earthmoving equipment maintenance. You don't lubricate it frequently, you're going to be fixing it, frequently.

When you're talking about equipment priced in large fractions of a million dollars, and days or weeks of down time (amd tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs) to repair worn out pivot points, a few bucks worth of grease and an hour of your operator's time a day is going to be very inexpensive by comparison.

A Squared said...

and that we're not helping the same people over and over again

I think that you may be disappointed. Read "The road to Hell" for s fascinating, but somewhat depressing look into the International Aid industry. It describes how much of what we do, not only doesn't make things better, but actually makes then worse.