Ted wants you to sit down, shut up and put on this cute orange wig
Deep within a corporate bunker at the heart of America’s industrial-tourism complex, a room is filled with grim-faced airline marketing executives.
Well … they would be grim-faced except that, as required by the nature of their job, they are all in full clown gear, including enormous purple shoes and huge painted-on smiles. But, shoes, smiles, red noses and orange wigs aside, the room seethes with tension.
The head clown calls the meeting to order. “Gentlemen, we are facing a crisis. We’ve lost about a gazillion dollars and we need to do something really, really stupid to distract everyone from our mistakes. Any bright ideas? Better yet, any painfully stupid ideas?”
“Me! Me! Call on me!”
“OK, Benstead. Speak up.”
“Let’s start a new airline!”
“A new airline. What could be dumber than running one airline into bankruptcy and then starting another?”
“Great thinking, Benster. Tell me more.”
“Well, we’ll need a really stupid name. And then we’ll need some kind of ‘identity’ – you know, a special character that will distinguish us from all the other bankrupt airlines.”
“Hmmm. That might not be easy.”
“Well, sir …”
“Yes, Benbum. Keep going.”
“I know this might sound stupid …”
“Stupid is good, Benlip.”
“… but I was thinking maybe we could make a big point about how we’re really incompetent and dishonest.”
“Oooh. Too bad, Benlump. You were on a roll. But now you blew it. You just finished saying we need a new identity for this new airline. But incompetent and dishonest is what we’re known for. That’s just going back to our roots.”
“Sorry, sir. Maybe we could say we’re dishonest, incompetent … and cheap!”
“But we won’t be cheap, Bentip!”
“I know, sir. But we’ll make that part of the slogan: ‘We’re dishonest, incompetent and cheap. Oops! Well, two out of three ain’t bad!'”
“Bentwirp, you’re a genius! So, what will we call this new airline?”
“How about ‘Fred’?”
Another executive sits bolt upright. His orange wig is dripping coffee and there’s half a jelly donut stuck to his cheek from where he’d dozed off, face-first, into his breakfast.
“Yes sir! Here I am, sir! Fred Hoofleheffer. What can I do for you, sir?”
“No, not you, you idiot! I’m talking to Bendinger! Why call it ‘Fred’?”
“Well, it’s a really stupid name for an airline, sir. So I thought it’d be perfect.”
“Well, it’s not. Fred is my cat’s name!”
“I refuse to insult my cat.”
“I understand, sir. Perhaps we could call it ‘Ted.'”
“You want me to rename my cat ‘Ted’?”
“No, sir. The airline. We could call the airline ‘Ted.'”
“That’s incredibly stupid! I love it! Bendiffler, you’re a genius!”
“That’s ‘Benstead,’ sir.”
And then the corporate Volkswagen pulls up and all 54 executive clowns pile in and race off to their next meeting.
OK. Maybe that’s not the way it happened. But based on my half dozen Ted flights, I sure can’t figure out any other explanation.
My first Ted flight was delayed by more than an hour. When they announced the delay at the gate, a man sitting near me declared to the world at large, “What do you expect when the world’s cruddiest airline starts a ‘cut-rate’ operation?”
I thought he was being perhaps a little less than charitable, but later developments convinced me he had gotten it exactly right.
Once we were on board, the stewardess announced that they were going to show us the safety video – the one where they explain how to fasten your seat belt. She pushed a lot of buttons and scurried off.
The video didn’t play – but the stewardess was so busy giggling with her companions that she didn’t notice for about 15 minutes. Finally, she came back, giggled and pushed some more buttons. Nothing happened. She giggled. She pushed another button. The video started … but without any sound. She tried again. This time, she got the sound, but no picture. Another try. All right! Sound and picture – although the video was almost half over by then.
What the heck. No one ever watches it anyway.
Then we took off. The takeoff was accompanied by furious crashing and rattling, as all sorts of unsecured gear cascaded down in the galley.
The crash and clatter was accompanied by a storm of giggles from the stewardess.
I could go on, but why bother. You get the picture – and it only got worse.
Bring in the clowns.
Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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