You may be entertained to know that I now own a brand spanking new pair of scissors. They were reasonably priced, easy to find, and quick to purchase. The only quibble I might have with this particular purchase is that I wasn’t actually shopping for a pair of scissors.
I wanted a knife. And the store had a wonderful selection of knives. I just couldn’t buy any of them.
More on that later.
You may be equally entertained to know that I am on the ground today in Jennings, Louisiana. A town located directly on the south side of Interstate 10. I have driven past in years gone by, but never stopped in for as much as a burger.
Today is different. Low scud, high winds, and a persistent frontal system that refuses to move out of my way has me and my little airplane spending a second day in Jennings.
Did I mention that I’m driving around in a newer Dodge van that was given to me by a remarkably friendly guy named Brad. Yes, given to me.
“Treat it like it’s your own,” Brad said.
Fortunately for him, I’m treating it better than I would if it was my own. I appreciate the loaner more than I can say.
Brad operates Gulf Air at the Jennings Airport (3R7) along with his brother and a string of sons and sons-in-law who seem to be everywhere. They fueled my little C-152 when I asked for go-juice. They provided tie-down straps beefy enough to hold a helicopter onto the deck of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. In short, these folks who have never seen me before and have little reason to think I’ll be back any time soon treated me like a long-lost relative.
Brad, Gulf Air, and Jennings, Louisiana, is what exceptional customer service looks like.
Now, back to the scissors story.
My task this past week was to travel to Houston, Texas, to meet up with my good buddy and professional counterpart, Pat Brown. Pat is the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association‘s You Can Fly Ambassador in Texas. Basically, he’s me, but with a Texas twang, more spectacular restaurant haunts, and access to aircraft I would love to have in my hangar.
In order to travel to the Lone Star State I was forced to fly commercially — with my flight bag. Now, normally my flight bag would contain a number of items the TSA would frown upon. And my employer might understandably frown equally on me should I attempt to carry those nasty items through the metal detectors at an international airport.
Among those questionable items is a handful of knives and cutting tools. I always carry them when I fly. And now here I was in Houston, looking down the barrel of an 800 nautical mile flight over some of the most rural countryside you can imagine, without the supplies I typically fly with.
Thankfully, my buddy Pat owns a car. As an experienced driver with a deep understanding of Houston traffic, he was kind enough to act as my chauffeur for the days I was in town. Off to the big box store we went, in search of AA batteries for my headset, bottled water that would come in handy on a long flight, snacks just in case I found myself far from a safe and convenient food supply, and a knife.
The big box store had a lovely display of knives, neatly packaged inside a large glass case. I selected the one I wanted and off we went in search of an employee who could retrieve said knife from the locked glass cabinet. We looked. We searched. We found a young woman several aisles over who said she’d send someone our way shortly. She did not.
Eventually an employee wandered within earshot of Pat and myself. We waylaid him, ushered him to the knife cabinet, and indicated the item I would like to purchase.
“You can’t,” he said. “We don’t have a key to the cabinet.” He pointed out several nearly empty cabinets nearby that had new locks on them. There were no knives in those cabinents. I gestured to the full cabinet that contained my chosen item. “Do you have any stock in the back you could sell me?” I asked. “No,” he replied.
“I need a knife,” I explained. “Do you have any knives anywhere else in the store?” “No,” he replied.
I’m not inclined to argue with an unmotivated sales person when it becomes clear that selling product takes a distant second place to being on time for the break room, or lunch, or anything that has to do with serving a customer who is waving money at their cash register.
As we sauntered to the self-check-out scanners, Pat spotted an aisle filled with scissors.
“Those would work,” Pat pointed out. And so, I bought a new pair of scissors. Scissors I didn’t want, but scissors I needed – at least for the short term.
In Jennings I found another big box store. They had knives too. They had a key to the cabinet. A woman who called me “Sweety” about a hundred times sold me one with great satisfaction.
My flight bag is back to normal again. Thank goodness.
So, now I have a spare pair of scissors carried home all the way from Houston, Texas. They’re brand new, still in the package. I haven’t even bent the cardboard backing or crinkled the plastic shell that protects them from the elements. If you need a pair, I could make you a great deal.
You might also want to consider stopping in one day at Gulf Air in Jennings. Brad and his clan will be around to serve you as well as they served me, I’m sure.
It’s worth the trip. The Air Tractors seeding the rice paddies scattered around town are worth the visit all by themselves. Oh, and there’s a restaurant nearby called Darrell’s of Jennings. They serve crawfish at night.
Now you know.