— "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns
Warning to folks flying in and out of Reno: avoid United Airlines.
This may not be possible since United has a quasi-monopoly on flights to and from Reno. But be on notice: United delays and cancelled flights are constant.
One of my daughters living in Sparks puts it starkly: “We hate United Airlines. They are horrible! We have had such bad experiences with them. Other friends and family have also.”
Another daughter, a flight attendant for 30 years, says: “People dislike United Airlines so much there is a website called ‘Untied.com’ (United.untied).”
Subscribers to newspapers usually don’t want to read about personal problems of their columnists. But the problem my wife and I had goes beyond personal woes: United made us miss our connection in San Francisco for an overseas flight to London. It could happen to you.
Our recent debacle produced the longest, most tension-riddled and most frustrating day of my life. Our United flight from Reno was scheduled to leave at 2:30 p.m. Delay, delay, delay — despite sunny skies.
Then we were told our departure was set for 4:39 p.m. We never left the ground until 5:03 p.m. Nervously, we kept looking at our watches.
Finally arriving in San Francisco, we had 20 minutes to make a mad dash of one mile from the domestic terminal to the international terminal —with two security checks. We did not make it. UA failed to ask the overseas plane to wait briefly for our arrival as an attendant promised she would.
The overseas plane was booked solid for the next night. Our vacation was shattered. We vowed never to fly United Airlines again.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum (speak no ill of the dead) is a Latin expression invariably observed in local newspaper obituaries. But this decorum was shattered by a paid obit recently in the Reno Gazette-Journal: a family advertisement applauded the death of the family’s mother.
To my knowledge this is unprecedented. People may dislike or even hate one or both of their parents but they do not go public with such feelings.
Indeed, the usual obit paid for by the family is cloying, full of sentiments picturing the beloved deceased now sleeping “on Abraham’s bosom” (Shakespeare) or maybe “walking with Jesus in heaven.” But the RGJ obit was scalding in its denunciation. Excerpts:
•“She neglected and abused us when we were small.”
•“As adults she stalked us and hounded anyone we dared love.”
•“Everyone she met, adult or child, felt her cruelty, vulgarity and hatred of the gentle and kind human spirit.”
•“She exposed us to her evil and violent life.”
So the obit writer justly celebrated her death: “We will now live in peace knowing that the nightmare has finally ended. Abusing children is unforgiveable and should not be tolerated in a humane society.” In conclusion, the obit called for “a national movement dedicated to war against child abuse.”
A letter writer to the RGJ observed: “Whoever complained and thought it an awful obituary has never been abused.” Another letter said: “The agreeable response to her death notice is admirable. It is right to highlight the evil that some parents commit. I commend the bravery in writing the truth.”