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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Traveling Man

Among the many things Lucas is quite good about is travel. We don't go on trips very often, but the three times we've been anywhere since he's been born (plane, train and bus) he's been pretty good. I wish, dearly that the same could be said for the adults around us.

We went to Middlebury Vermont recently and stayed at the
Middlebury Inn, a place we've been to four times now. It is everything I like about Vermont and the Vermontish in one place. Good food, friendly people, not over the top fancy for no reason, just nice and homey feeling. We had to reschedule this trip twice, once for time/life reasons and once because my Mom had just died. Each time we rescheduled there was no problem, they got us the room we'd stayed in before etc etc.

Anyway the Inn and Middlebury were wonderful as always.
Lucas loved all the stairs in the Inn, but mostly he loved the church clock that rang on the hour. We had to time our visits to places and meals to being outside for the bell. He was confused by the lack of city buses and Metro, but was very happy otherwise. All of this sounds great right? Bucolic even. It's just that you have to get there.

And, because we don't drive, you have to get there while relying on other humans to not be total prats. Which, after a careful study of humans, seems to be an impossibility.

Here's a hint. If you are someone traveling to the USA from Canada but under another passport, let's say umm.. Chinese, and have a limited understanding of English, almost no luggage (a book bag type backpack that seemed to contain a cellphone, a book and mb a change of underwear) it behooves you to know at least the street name of the person you are visiting in Boston. Oh, and it would be nice if you had checked to see what kind of documents besides your passport you might need to get into the country. Yes. That would be nice.

Because if you did all those things the rest of the people on the bus who managed to get through customs (this is 20 or so of us, all under various passports–I saw EU,Haitian and couple of others I couldn't identify) in about 30 minutes, wouldn't have had to wait for you for an hour and a half. Also, this would have avoided you being told by one of your fellowpassengerss "next time, take the fucking plane" (not me, I swear to god).
Same thing goes to the nice lady on the bus home traveling under the EU passport.

Additionally I'd like to send a big FUCK YOU out to the nice people at the Burlington bus station (not the young blonde guy who handles luggage, he's very nice and has dealt with my huge hiking backpacks on a number ofoccasionss) and the fun people from Vermont Transit Lines.

VTL decided to stop servicing a number of smaller towns as of early September. No one really seems to have been told. They just stopped. I get that they are a private company, not in the charity transport business, but their "tough shit" attitude kind of sucks.

One of the places they no longer service is Middlebury, so we had to hire a private mini-bus company to take us there (the best bit of the whole travel–more on this in a moment).

Besides cutting service to these places they no longer have baggage checking capabilities (or the willingness to check bags). I found this out when we arrived at the station and wanted to go to downtown Burlington for a couple of hours. I politely asked the mindless automaton behind the counter if I could check my bags. She looked at me with a blank, dull stare like I was mad and said "no". Then she went back to her magazine.

A hint: I'M THE CLIENT YOU BRAIN ADDLED PRAT. At a bare minimum the answer was "No sir, I'm sorry we no longer offer that service here." My guess is that if I'd pressed I would be told of security concerns. My thinking on this is that terrorists have bigger fish to fry than a shack in a gravel parking lot, but I'm not an expert. I've noticed that post 9/11 many US transport companies have cut services and blamed the cuts on terrorism. I note that the same services are available in Europe, where people have been blowing shit up for years. I note further that the services that have been cut in the US are those that are not profit centers. I'm guessing that I'm onto some kind ocorrelationon here.

Do you know who would hold our bags for us for a bit? The nice people at the
Gear Exchange in Burlington, specifically Josh. Apparently they recognize that: A) no one is going to blow up a small establishment in Burlington B) Customer service, even for a customer who might not buy something today (I have in the past, I sure as hell well in the future) is a good idea.

Another bright light in all of this stupidity were William & Cheryl, owners and operators of Jessica's Vital Transit. On time, quick, polite, friendly, chatty at the right level, helpful, reasonably priced, sweet to Lucas (they provide a car seat)... they were everything travel and customer service should be.

Ok, enough bitching, the trip was nice. We all chilled out (the knots in my shoulders went away !!!) but I think this was the straw that broke the camels back. We're going to break down and get a drivers licence...


At 11:36 a.m., Blogger JJ Daddy-O said...

Your first mistake was using the words "USA" and "mass transit" in a sentence together, unless that sentence is "The USA ain't got no mass transit"

At 11:45 a.m., Blogger Cameron Campbell said...

jj, that was a bit dumb of me eh?

At 2:45 p.m., Blogger JJ Daddy-O said...

Acyually, that's not quite true, the US has more macro mass transit than micro mass transit. You can move between large, medium and even small cities easily, but once you get to the airport, you're stuck.

At 7:49 p.m., Blogger Cheryl & Wm said...

Wow! thank you for the kind words! We just discovered them yesterday(31Oct06) while running searches to determine whether our new site, at our own domain, is showing up on any search engines. It isn't yet, lol.

Hope you don't object, but we've decided to add your appraisal of us to the new site. It just seemed fortuitous somehow. The finishing touch.

Naturally we'll remove it should you object.

Again, thank you Mr Campbell, we're delighted, even at this later date, that you folks were well pleased. It's good to hear.

respects, Cheryl & Wm


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