Dear Las Vegas

I've been told by a few people that this post is a little "weird", "out of character", "too personal", or "emo", so I thought I'd throw this disclaimer on it. If you like your posts normal, in character, impersonal, and whatever-the-opposite-of-emo-is, it's probably best to skip this one.

Dear Las Vegas,

I like you. People who know me are sometimes surprised by this, but I do. I recognize that you have so much more to offer than getting drunk and spending too much money. Every time I visit, I learn new and exciting things that make me appreciate you more. When people try to put you down, I stick up for you. I remind them of all the free entertainment, outdoor opportunities, and visual excitement there is to see. I point out that by having excesses concentrated and sharable, it allows people to avoid excesses at home. I point out what a genuine feat of engineering, art, and marketing it is that you even exist. I'm really one of your biggest fans.

But there is something I have to get off my chest. Despite your many facets of entertainment, history, culture, and interest, there is just one thing that I can think about when I visit you. It's not money (although I do catch myself occasionally thinking about what it would be like if I were to take home that over-sized novelty check). It's not the shows either. Whenever I visit, see a movie or tv show set upon your glamorous streets, or even hear someone mention you, I think of her. I'm convinced I see her two rows over in the grocery store shopping for coffee. Wasn't that her car that just cruised by as I wait to cross the strip? This park totally seems like the type of place she might come to hang out, Yeah, I know there are millions of people roaming around at any given time, so the chances of an encounter are slim, but still. And not that I even want an encounter, I think, maybe. I just can't help but have such thoughts fill my head.

There. Now that I've said it I feel a lot better. What do I expect you to do about it? Not much. I mean, if you see her, maybe tell her I say hello or something. No biggie. I guess I just needed you to know.

Anyway, I gotta run. I'm trying to catch as many free shows over at Circus Circus as I can. If I learn something, I can write off this trip as a tax deduction. Thanks for being so cool.

Always,
Wren
Friday January 1 2010File under: open letter

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On Open Letter to Greyhound

Dear Greyhound Inc.,

I've been a customer of yours for several years. You always come through in a pinch, even if it isn't the best deal or the most convenient travel experience. But a bad options is often better than no optional at all, and I appreciate the service you provide. In my years traveling, I've noticed a few things that I wanted to ask about and a few possible suggestions. I would love to see you become a viable travel option for everyone, not just the bums and winos.

My first question is this: How do you manager to get at least one crazy person or drunk on every bus? Do you focus your advertising campaigns at half-way houses and mental facilities? Is there some sort of discount that you don't offer the general public? Or maybe it is just the camaraderie they feel with the Greyhound employees. Do you keep a staff of these folks on call in case a legitimate crazy doesn't show up? If so, where can I find the application for this position. I do a great crazy.

That brings me to my next question: Do you offer performance benefits on an inversely proportional basis? There must be some incentive that gets your employees to be so indifferent. I've never seen people on duty be so unconcerned with getting the job done properly and in a timely fashion (besides road construction crews, of course). I know this may sound like a new idea, but it is actually well accepted in the business world today: reward employees for performance rather than the lack thereof. With this simple change in policy, you might find that buses will start being on time, facilities will start to resemble a place you wouldn't be afraid to take your mother, and people won't be so horribly belligerent from having been treated so poorly. Who knows, you might even become a company your stock holders wouldn't avoid like the plague.

With a little work and thought, I'm confident that you can be a company with the value and reliability that will compare with, say, Guatemala's bus transit systems. But I will say this: I've never seen a live chicken on any of your buses.

Tuesday July 24 2007File under: transportation, open letter

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An Open Letter to My Fellow Travellers

Dear Fellow Traveller,

It sure is amazing that we're here, eh? To be in Phnom Phen, halfway around the world, getting to experience this totally different culture: We really are so lucky. I hope you share that sense of amazement with me. In addition to seeing this oh so different culture, it has been great meeting you, my fellow travellers. For sharing your travel histories, as well as information about your home countries and lives, I want to say thank you.

I do, however, have some beef. I share it with you not only to get it off my chest, but also in hopes that you will listen and consider what I have to say. After all, my experience travelling is affected by what you do, both from direct interactions, and in indirect ways (how a community welcomes travellers greatly depends on how previous travellers have acted in the past).

For starters, the Lonely Planet is a guide book, not a rule book. The next time I hear "but the Book says...", I think I might go insane. I have nothing against Lonely Planet. Its information about schedules, activities, accommodations, and maps has been helpful in the past. But it has also been dead wrong. So do me a favor, dear traveller: pass a day (or two or three) without carrying around the Book. Choose an accommodation based on the look and feel of the place, rather than words written by someone else over a year ago. Take a chance on a place that wasn't included in the "things to do" list. But most of all, please stop quoting the suggestions and cautions from the LP as ones of your own or those of your friends. If it is in the LP, it is not insider information.

Secondly, if you choose to take advantage of nothing else of the culture here but the cheap beer prices, please keep quiet and try not to do anything stupid. Since we keep exactly opposite schedules, I suspect I will never meet you, which is all for the best, I guess. But please have the courtesy to realize that some people are here for more than the $.50 Anchors or the $3.00 buckets, and act accordingly. Cultural exchange is a two way street, and please don't litter it with your vomit and curse words.

That said, I know I speak to only a percentage of you travellers. We all have our own reasons for being here and our own agendas. I will do my best to respect yours if you return the favor.

Cordially,
Wren
Thursday December 7 2006File under: open letter, travel

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