The Grapevine: I made it to darkest Maryland (well, actually, just short of Maryland) for the monthly storytelling show at Busboys & Poets – Takoma. I did put my name in for the open mike, but did not get picked out of the hat. Which is just as well, as I was tired.
Anyway, the three tellers whose names were drawn all did well. They were followed by a young poet, who stumbled on trying to perform from memory, but one must be kind to the young. The first featured teller was Anne Shimojima from Chicago. She told an interesting mixture of stories, including two Japanese folktales, a lovely literary story and a personal story.
She was followed by Mary Hamilton from Kentucky. Mary started with an amazing original story ("Susan Contemplates Murder") that was very funny, with the humor coming from the truth of the emotions. She also told a personal story, having to do with her wedding and her family’s eventual acceptance of her unconventional husband. And she told a couple of folktales, including one at the end that was particularly apt for the current zeitgeist, though she noted that it had been collected in the 1940’s.
All in all, it was a fun show and worth being out on a weeknight for.
Speaking of Stories: Here is the story I told at the February Better Said Than Done show.
United and Dogs: So there are a few stories going around involving United Airlines and dogs and everybody is jumping all over them.
The first one involves a dog being placed in an overhead bin and dying during the flight. The allegation is that the flight attendant insisted that the passenger put the dog in the overhead. The flight attendant claims not to have known that there was a dog In the bag. Given that a lot of carriers do look like ordinary dufflebags, I find that plausible. It sounds like the bag might have been a little too big to fit under the seat, so it would not be surprising for the flight attendant to ask for the bag to go overhead. Apparently, also, the passenger was Spanish speaking, so I can see the flight attendant not understanding that it was a dog. But why didn’t the passenger check on the dog during the flight? Supposedly, the dog was barking early in the flight, so why wouldn’t the flight attendant have noticed that? The whole thing sounds like a tragic misunderstanding. But it’s not the sort of thing that is likely to happen again and there is nothing specific to United that led to it.
In response to this, there is a story being revived about how many more pet deaths United has had than other airlines. Over the past 3 years, there were 85 pet deaths and 41 were on United. Actually, Hawaiian had a higher rate of pet deaths over that period. But they went to zero last year – because they stopped accepting brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which account for almost all pet deaths. And that is precisely the point. United accepts a wider range of pets as cargo than any of the other U.S. based airlines, including those flat-faced breeds that are prone to respiratory failure under stress.
By the way, since I was curious, there was one death of a cat. That was a Sphynx cat, which is a marginal breed barely worth the honorable name of cat.
The other United incident involved sending a dog intended to go to Kansas to Japan, and vice versa. This one is really not United’s fault at all. The dogs had connections that involved an overnight in Denver and were sent to an off-sight facility (not owned by United) overnight. That’s where they were put back in the wrong kennels, switching them. Annoying and stressful, but no harm in the long run.
Bottom line is that I would fly with a pet on United, if I had a pet and were that determined to travel with it (which rarely makes sense, but that’s another matter).
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