Monday, January 26, 2009

It's a Bird ... No, It's a Plane Outrage

I guess this sort of ties in with what I wrote earlier today in this blog.

Although, actually, I guess it really ties in better with what I wrote on Saturday.

I heard about this a little while ago. And I'm so angry about it that I'm literally shaking.

The New York Post — and probably others, although that's the only report I've read so far — is reporting that Citigroup — which, I regret to say, is a company for whom I worked for several years (through one of its subsidiary companies) — is using $50 million of its bailout money to buy a new jet.

The Post's Jennifer Gould Keil and Chuck Bennett summarize it this way in their lead paragraph: "Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet — only this time, it's the taxpayers who are getting screwed."

I guess, if there's anything good to say about this, it's that some talented wags are getting the chance to show off their linguistic skills with some clever wordplay.

To be fair, the order for the jet was probably submitted a couple of years ago — before the recession. But in the current environment, the best thing to do would be to back out of the contract and swallow any losses that result.

I don't know if there's much I can add to what the Post said about it.

There is, however, one thought that's been going through my mind. Next Tuesday will be the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the "Big Bopper" in an event that was dubbed "the day the music died" by Don McLean (as I mentioned in this blog on Saturday).

Just to briefly recap a little known part of the story ... Waylon Jennings, who went on to a legendary career in country music before his death in 2002, was one of Holly's musicians. He gave his seat on the plane to the "Big Bopper" because the "Bopper" was developing a case of the flu and didn't want to ride in the bus that was carrying the rest of Holly's entourage.

When Holly found out that Jennings would not be riding on the plane, he said to him, in jest, "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up." Jennings replied, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes."

Jennings admitted that he was haunted by that exchange for many years after the tragedy.

But I'll say this. If there is any poetic justice in the world, the bigshots at Citigroup will be flying in their plane in the vicinity of Clear Lake, Iowa, on that anniversary.

At night.

In an ice storm.

With a pilot who has trouble flying at night.

Preferably while the bigshots are dining on filet mignon and lobster tail — on the taxpayers' tab.

If that happens, I might, like Jennings, feel a little guilty. But, if I have to endure a few sleepless nights because of it, that's a price I'll pay — if I have to.

And my advice to the air traffic control people is this: If the Citigroup plane is overdue, don't bother sending out a search and rescue party until daylight.

No sense in risking innocent lives.

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