There seems to be a couple of Minneapoli. There is the upscale, wealthy, cosmopolitan Minneapolis. The number of white tablecloth restaurants here is remarkable. Chefs are known by name and their creations are monitored closely by the glitterati: “He’s using truffle oil infusions since his trip to Aix…”. A Mercedes Benz dealer says he can’t get enough stock, fast enough to keep up with demand.
The other Minneapolis is the more modest. Overheard in the hotel dining room: “I don’t like it when those people on television use that word, a-s-s. It’s just not seemly.” This was said by a 40-ish man and woman, eating a meal. Judging by the burr of their accent, they weren’t from Minneapolis metro proper, but perhaps from the smaller towns around the area.
So, we’re confronted with a city that is ‘citified’ as well as ‘countrified’ As a general guideline, you don’t see Minneapolis on “COPS”. If Toronto is New York City, run by the Swiss, then Minneapolis is Toronto run by the Norwegians. They seem to take their differentness as a given; the reserve and politeness of the Midwest is endemic here.
The ‘burbs. The ‘burbs of Chicago no less. A nice little community trisected by eight lane interstate width roads. Accents? Imagine George Wendt doing “Da Bears” and you’re not far from wrong. It is easy to identify the native Chicagoans when they speak. A kind of Midwestern burr with a touch of NYC. Milwaukee accents are just a bit thicker. But really nice folks. Interested in me being from “Canader” Some wonderment that I would come all this way to teach, then I remind them that Ottawa is only a two-hour flight from here. Perhaps it is the American Insularity Gene kicking up a fuss.
I’ll wait to critique the food when I’m in downtown Chicago at our office in The Loop. (On Wacker Drive, no less) Downer’s Grove is essentially a bedroom community where people live here and work elsewhere.
It has also been raining like Noah’s Wet Dream. Some underpasses were flooded this morning, so some students were delayed as traffic essentially ground to a halt when some of the freeways were clogged with dead cars and soaking wet occupants.
Downstate? No one knows, no one cares. Downstate might as well be the Moon. But that’s the Chicago way: Canada is more approachable than Springfield or any other downstate place.
I think I may have come up with the WHY to explain the airline financial crisis. They’ve decided to become transportation companies, rather than what they really are, service companies. A transport company worries about the lowest possible cost associated with moving a truck full of pineapples from A to B. Or machine screws. Or gravel.
Air travel for humans is not a commodity item, or more correctly, should not be a commodity item. When passengers treat it as one and airlines treat us a commodities that must be moved as inexpensively as possible, then the customer has no loyalty to the transporter.
A Service company, by contrast, recognizes that the customer has an infinite number of choices at cheaper or more expenses prices and tries to build customer loyalty by treating the customer well. Hotels went through this in the 60’s. Occupancy rates fell when the major chains, Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn at the time, got eaten alive by the Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, Best Western chains that offered low prices but limited service. There are now choices in the hotel industry at just about every price point from dirt cheap basic bed, bath and TV, to decadent rooms that have more luxe than most can be expected to stand. You choose which you prefer.
Airlines are about to go through that unpleasantness. Until they recognize that treating all their customers as extraordinarily powerful consumers who can dictate the airlines’ fortunes on a whim, airlines will be running to Washington and Ottawa and Bonn and London with their hands out crying the fiscal blues. The governments should, but wont, say: Screw ya. Treat us nice and we’ll be loyal. Give us a fair price for better service and we’ll stick with you. A frequent flyer program is nice, but it really is nothing more than luggage tags with your name on it. Big freakin’ whoopee! I just want some room, a snack or a meal a drink and someone to talk to me like a human, not a five year old with ADD. Until then, hey, lowest price rules.
And if USAirways goes Tango Uniform, I can only wave “Buh Bye” Serves them right
The Steel City is wrapped around the Allegheny Mountains. A river sort of meanders down the middle. But the mountains are the dominant feature, slicing neighbourhoods into valleys and slopes. Everything is either up hill or down hill. And its worse than San Francisco, where everything essentially falls towards the ocean.
The blue collar ethic is strong here. Polite, firm and willing to help their neighbours. So, in many ways its a small town with taller buildings downtown. However, it also has the world headquarters of H J Heinz, PPG Paint and a bunch of other big companies. There is a world-class art gallery or two, a symphony orchestra that is world-renown and a couple of world-class hospitals. Is it a blue collar town or a white collar town?
The air is reasonably clean, so its not really a blue collar town in the traditional definition. Most of the steel industry is gone, replaced with mini-mills that remelt scrap steel and need perhaps 1/10th of the staff and run at capacity all the time with essentially no emissions. Pittsburgh is very green along the hills, with a canopy of trees everywhere except downtown.
A city in transition with a heritage of work and effort. Is that Pittsburgh?