Pageviews last month

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Questions Asked a Ticket Agent: Time for a little source criticism

A Washington D.C. airport ticket agent offers some examples of 'why' our country is in trouble:

1. I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman (Carol Shea-Porter) ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window. (On an airplane!)

2. I got a call from a Kansas Congressman's (Moore) staffer (Howard Bauleke), who wanted to go to Capetown. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information, and then he interrupted me with, ''I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Capetown is in Massachusetts .''
Without trying to make him look stupid, I calmly explained, ''Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Capetown is in Africa ''
His response -- click.

3. A senior Vermont Congressman (Bernie Sanders) called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state.
He replied, 'don't lie to me, I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state!''

4. I got a call from a lawmaker's wife (Landra Reid) who asked, ''Is it possible to see England from Canada ?''
I said, ''No.''
She said, ''But they look so close on the map.''

5. An aide for a cabinet member (Janet Napolitano) once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. I pulled up the reservation and noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, ''I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between gates to save time.''

6.An Illinois Congresswoman (Jan Schakowsky) called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 a.m., and got to Chicago at 8:33 a.m.
I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.

7. A New York lawmaker, (Jerrold Nadler) called and asked, ''Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?'' I said, 'No, why do you ask?'
He replied, ''Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight. I think that's very rude!''
After putting him on hold for a minute, while I looked into it. (I was dying laughing). I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT- Fresno Air Terminal), and the airline was just putting a destination tag on his luggage.

8. A Senator John Kerry aide (Lindsay Ross) called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, ''Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?''

9. I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman, Bobby Bright (D) from Ala who asked, ''How do I know which plane to get on?''
I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, ''I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them.''

10. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) Called and said, ''I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, Florida . Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?''
I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, FL on a commuter plane.
She said, ''Yeah, whatever, smarty!''

11. Mary Landrieu (D) La. Senator called and had a question about the documents she needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded her that she needed a visa. 'Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those.''
I double checked and sure enough, her stay required a visa. When I told her this she said, ''Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!''

12. A New Jersey Congressman (John Adler) called to make reservations, ''I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York.''
I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said, ''Are you sure that's the name of the town?''
'Yes, what flights do you have?'' replied the man.
After some searching, I came back with, ''I'm sorry, sir, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere."
''The man retorted, ''Oh, don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!''
So I scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, ''You don't mean Buffalo , do you?''
The reply? ''Whatever! I knew it was a big animal.''

Now you know why the Government is in the shape that it's in! Could anyone be this DUMB?
I don't write it, I just offer it for your consideration. Like manure, you just gotta spread it around.

Now, the White Man here to answer that last question, Yes, anyone could be that dumb. But notice, the anonymous author didn't quote just anyone in this piece. He only quoted Democrats. Now, if Democrats can be that dumb, so can Republicans. The very fact that he only quoted Democrats brings out a strong marine odor: this piece is a fabrication, and it's unlikely that any of these quotes were actually made by the people to whom they were attributed. In fact, all of them show such remarkable lack of intellect that this collection was probably first compiled as a list of the Stupidest Questions Ever Asked a Travel Agent. Only later did an anti-Democrat pick it up and carefully add a list of plausible Democrat names to the quotes.

Now, I came up with all of this just from a quick read of the piece and an online check of  a few of the names. Let's see what Snopes says about it: Link here (it won't let me cut and paste).

Yep, I was exactly right. Notice that the names were all added in parentheses to an earlier version. The earliest version of all made no mention of members of Congress.

Now, see how easy that was? With only a single copy of this message, I was able--before I even finished reading it-- to spot it as a forgery, and to hypothesize that the names were all interpolations. A little search for external evidence soon showed my hypothesis to be spot-on.

I could add one more allusion to the art of textual criticism. Several times I have gone back through the text of this pericope and removed extraneous spaces, fixed capitalization errors, and replaced spaces that had been deleted. I didn't carefully check how many errors of each kind I encountered, but it's interesting that, at least in an electronic text, such errors do multiply as the text is copied--but only because changes are being made by the scribes themselves (or initiated by their spell checkers); in this case, changes of first deletion (of the original text), then replacement (of the corrections) and finally addition (of the interpolations). The sort of stylistic errors encountered did in fact point to the sort of editorial changes that had been made to the text--and this was all obvious from looking at a single copy; no comparison of copies was necessary, except to confirm what could already be seen to have happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment

One comment per viewer, please--unless participating in a dialogue.