Airhead B&B

Hey, I have the greatest idea ever. Imagine staying at a complete stranger’s house — and giving them a bunch of money in advance of your stay!

Your vacation digs will not be checked out by the state. No fire inspection needed. You just give the person your hard-earned bucks and stay at their place.

Even better: the nice folks that you’re staying with will cook you breakfast! Again, no health and safety checks needed by the local government. And who knows, while you are there, you may become acquainted with the homeowner’s dogs, children, tenants, and mother-in-law.

If that doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world, I have an even better one. Rather than call a taxi when you need a ride, push a few buttons on your Smart Phone. A complete stranger — totally unvetted by the local municipalities — will come to your door and pick you up!

In order to save some money on cabs, you can instead be driven around by someone without a taxi license, or special training, permits, or anything else. It will just be an under- or unemployed guy or gal who will take you in their personal vehicle to your destination. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Several decades ago the possibility of staying at the house of who-knows-who or getting in the car with anyone other than a trustworthy friend, family member, or taxi driver would have been absurd. In my father’s words, it would have been cockamamie. People wanted their drivers, etc. etc. to go through rigorous testing and licensing.

But now we live in a world where money rules. To save some money, people will take risks that would have been unimaginable back in the day. Folks will even watch a Youtube video on car repairs and try to do it themselves rather than (as reasonable people would do) head over to their local repair shop.

It’s a do-it-yourself world, from pumping our own gas to scanning our grocery products. Here in California, we even have to bring our own bags. The status of human beings has dropped lower than an endangered snail.

As you can tell, I would never, ever stay in an air B&B. Ditto to getting in the car with a Lyft or Uber driver. I imagine that many of the drivers are legitimate and trustworthy. But, frankly, I’ve seen some of them driving around here, and I’m scared to drive next to them, much less get in the car.

There was a time, a number of years ago, that for a bunch of different reasons, I took a lot of cabs. This was before the day when you could supersede the taxi drivers and push an app button instead.

The drivers were all immigrants from India. My heart really went out to them. I learned how many times they were threatened or robbed. They had to go through extensive training and permitting to do their work — and they shelled out a lot of money to do so. So it pains me to think about how Uber and Lyft are ripping off these hard-working people.

Not to mention, what about the risks to the Lyft and Uber drivers?? The taxi drivers around me are l00% men. But I’ve seen some vulnerable-looking women driving for do-it-yourself companies. Seems to me a risky practice, no matter how desperate she may be for work.

And when I travel (rarely), I stay at a well-known chain. Let me tell you what happened to me once there during an emergency.

I was staying at a Marriot Hotel in California. In our pathetic State, we often have power outages — for no apparent reason. At about 9 pm, the hotel (and the nearby area) went dark.

Well, it was as though the staff at the Marriot had been waiting their entire lives for this moment to arrive. Their response was unbelievable — something that should be emulated by FEMA.

Every one of them snapped into action. They dashed around the hallways looking to see if everyone was safe. They quickly checked all the elevators to ensure safety. Then — as though through magic — they supplied several hundred travelers with this little flashlight thingy.

They remained calm; they kept us informed about what was happening with the blackout. No staff went home, even when their shift was over. A few hours later the lights went back on, and the operations of the hotel continued seamlessly.

It was a sight to behold. I’ve never felt so secure and protected in my entire life. I knew that there was nothing — earthquakes, monsoons, hurricanes, blizzards, plagues of locusts — that could ruffle these folks. Contrast the above with an emergency at your air B&B. Chances are you’d be on your own — and in the dark.

Prior to the days of air B&Bs, I rented a few vacation houses. Back then, the local newspapers ran ads for rentals. I stayed at a couple of nice places — but more often, dirty ones, where my first day on vacation was cleaning the house (if they had any cleaning supplies).

A notable experience was one house that was totally flea infested. I was scared to death of bringing some of the nasty creatures home with me. Another fiasco was a cabin in the Redwoods where the next-door neighbor was felling Redwood trees (a sound like a bomb going off). Since I had already paid for the week, I was stuck.

The moral of the story: For me, I will always choose the licensed, registered, vetted option. No airheads for me or tough-looking Ubers. And, yes, I’d rather stand in line a few extra minutes and have someone else scan and bag my groceries. . . and I’ll even pay for the bag. I still think that I — and all human beings — am worth it.

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