Jul 7, 2021

Needed: Vacational Guidance

We head to Idaho for R&R and spuds

By Ed Goldman

I recently took my first real vacation in almost 14 years. I went to Idaho—home to crystalline lakes, emerald parks, easygoing people and apparently, excellent potatoes.

I say “apparently” because the only time during my trip I had one it had been hashed to within an inch of its life to accompany a breakfast so large it would have intimidated even a deprived timber wolf. Ergo, in a spirit of fairness, I disqualified it from competition but hope for a rematch.

Edgy Cartoon

Yes. Deer.

While I could go on for days about the genuine thrills of seeing a large gray fox scamper down the road alongside my rental car, as though daring me to race, and deer the size of SUVs dining in the front yard of the home where I was a guest, the things that stick with me about the trip are a mixed carry-on bag: travel itself.

1.TSA. I’ve read that in Israel, highly trained military people watch passengers coming into and leaving airport terminals. They conduct neither universal body scans-and pat-downs nor destructive suitcase searches. They simply know what to look for.

In the U.S., most TSA personnel appear to be working considerably beyond their skill sets or pay grades. Some revel in their temporary power, making us feel like blithering idiots for not knowing our keys go in one container and laptops in another. 

The shoe removal mandate—prompted by exactly one individual whose attempt to smuggle an explosive device onto a plane several years back seemed like an outtake from an episode of “Get Smart”—is a kind of peekaboo requirement: If you’re at least 75 years old or a little kid, you don’t have to remove your Cobbie Cuddlers or Weeboks, respectively. I understand this in the case of the tot but why aren’t you considered a potential terrorist just because you’ve been a member of AARP for a quarter of a century? “Geezer” and “anarchist” aren’t antonyms.

Finally, after removing your belt, shoes, glasses and outer garment, and making it through the X-ray chamber, which resembles a vertical MRI machine, you feel the need to scramble to reassemble yourself. The airlines don’t exactly provide a comfort area in which to do so. Usually, it’s just a bench a few feet from the conveyor belt from which you’ve madly plucked your carry-on bag and the contents of your emptied pockets. And for some reason, as you redress and put yourself back together, you hurry. This leads me to #2.

2.VELOCITY. Even after barnstorming our way through the indignities of the TSA employees’ frowning and fondling, why do we feel compelled to Olympic Power-Walk our way to the gate from which we’ll emplane in an hour or more?

And why do we secretly suspect once we sit down that if we get up and go to the bathroom, our flight will depart without us, our carry-on luggage will be posted on eBay and the airport itself will shut down?

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And why do we constantly jump up to go check the nearest monitor of arrivals and departures? Do they really change those that often?

TRAFFIC CONTROLLER #1: Gate 18 is so, like, 2019. Let’s send the plane to Gate 45.

TRAFFIC CONTROLLER #2: That’s on the other side of the airport! All these passengers are going to have to run like cheetahs on amphetamines to catch their flight!

TRAFFIC CONTROLLER #1: Your point being…? (They both begin to giggle malevolently)

TRAFFIC CONTROLLER #2: Man, I am soooo glad I transferred here from TSA!

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

Years ago, Andy Warhol famously said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” The saying caught on and was condensed to “Everybody has 15 minutes of fame.”

I’m blessed in my lifetime to have had my share of the spotlight for 15 minutes many times over. Pride and fame can be serious to the ego and even detrimental. The real goal is to be clear about who you are and what you’re all about, so the spotlight just becomes some icing on the cake of life and doesn’t drive or define your view of your self-worth.

A special moment in my lifetime happened like this: Malcolm Hotchkiss, my banker co-worker and, full disclosure, husband, successfully ran United Business Bank as President/CEO for over 20 years, sold the bank, and after a few short years of continued growth the company, called BayCom Corp., became publicly traded in 2018.

When standing in Times Square in New York, chatting with coworkers, I suddenly looked up and saw my husband and me appear on the Nasdaq jumbotron. Appearing there is sort of a rite of passage for a successful businessperson, a corporate blessing that says a company you are a part of has reached a pinnacle of success.

I was there when the BayCom CEO George Guarini rang the Nasdaq bell. There’s something childlike and simple about ringing a bell when something significant has been accomplished. When a company crosses over to a billion dollars in size, ring a bell so everyone hears.

People will want to know why the bell was rung or why you are on a jumbotron and you’ll have your 15 minutes of fame. And your employees will all come out of their workspaces to hear the announcement and cheer each other on.

This NASDAQ ritual builds corporate relationships, promotes growth and success, and recognizes companies in a fun and inspiring way. I’m grateful to have had the chance: the seconds it took to look up and see my husband and me smiling down at New York’s Times Square will forever be among my 15 minutes of fame.

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