San Bruno. Why bother?

San Bruno, July 2012
“Why is it that you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a winery here, yet I have to drop 10 bucks on a glass?”Me, to a waitress.

Lets get the logistics out of the way first.  Since I now book through the corporate travel agency, I have little say on the airline or flight. With my last flight to Akron, the direct fight cost twice the connecting flight, Which was routed via the seven circles of hell. I protested, but they played the boss card.  So away I went. In a rare outpouring of serendipity, this time I flew on Virgin America. I’ve wanted to try this airline since my last trip to LA where I stupidly chose American and suffered instead.

So, this time they were the cheapest, and had a flight in a non-hideous time range. However, I wasted that by waking up late and having to scramble to DFW. This left me on the verge of a nuclear spaz attack when I sized up the snail’s pace at which the ticket agents were moving. They didn’t appear to have the concept down that a huge line of people may have checked in already and just need to drop their bags. Nevertheless, I made it to the gate in time, calmed down, and took off. Some notes:

1. Best animated flight instructions ever. Funny, concise. At the point where they showed the airbags dropping and they want you to put yours before helping the kid, they panned back and the kid was panicking and grabbing at the bag…I belly laughed at that one.

2. Small boarding passes. Gone are the old school computer punch-card passes. They have small, playing card sized passes. This allows you to put your pass in your front shirt pocket without looking like a dork.

3. They don’t drag a food card around with sad offers of junk food. In every seat’s monitor is a terminal. You can order food – whatever you want, pay for it, and they bring it to you. Served like a human being. Go figure.

4. The planes are nice, new, and clean. Manufactured in this century, a treat!.

All in all a great flight.

SFO is still one of the suckier airports I’ve been to, but unlike many at least it’s rental cars are in the same general vicinity and there’s a train to get you there.  By the way, I’m constantly amazed at the sheer numbers I see standing at a counter to rent a car. Why do people do this? You can create an account on the web, rent the car, then simply show up and drive away. Is that such an elusive concept that most can’t grasp?

Far as the car goes, I’m back to Avis. They are cheaper lately. Like a noob-doofus, I looked at the wrong ticket to rent my car, so I was two hours early to pick up. “No Sweat, elite member, would you like a Dodge Avenger, Ford Escape, or Dodge 200?” Ok, the last Ford Escape I had guzzled gas like a wino drinking on an expense account. I went for the 200. It’s an OK car I suppose. Cheap, buzzy, plastic-y. Not great, not bad though. But in today’s relative world, it’s the worst car I’ve gotten in years. No wonder this company was a ward of the state and sold off on the cheap to the Italians. It’s not that it was a bad car, just everyone Else’s is far better. Compared to the Dodge, a KIA or Hyundai seems like a Lexus.

Probably the most noteworthy thing I’ve seen on this trip was an utter lack of cognitive ability. It seemed like every encounter I had ended up with me having to do a certain level of counseling. I mean, we all had to do math problems – like two trains are heading towards each other, one this speed one that speed, when is the train wreck. I guess they don’t do that these days all that much.

For instance. If the gold elite member is trying to check in to his room as well as a meeting room, will spend a ton of money with you, and has his preferences for a top floor, but the elevator is out and you are expecting a huge teen church group during the week, what is the proper way to handle this?

A. Offer a low floor, near the meeting room, put the kids on the other side of the hotel.
B. Put him as far away from stairs or a functioning elevator, in the path of all the kids as they go to and from the pool.
C. Honor the preferences. Put all the kids around him.

Guess what I got. Go to the head of the class if you picked “B”.

Another funny great example – I’m in the meeting room setting up with all my crates unpacked. The manager comes in and asks if they have wheels. Do you see wheels? Why yes, yes they do. But you need to be a wizard first, and then wave your wand while saying ‘apearo locomoto!’ to make them work. Even then, they may not work if muggles are around. And I don’t care if your houseman says he hurt himself. I’m nearly fifty and can move these things around without so much as breaking a sweat. This is a hotel, you have big wheel carts for luggage, right? Sheez!

About the city?

I don’t care much for San Francisco and care even less for San Bruno. Didn’t go anywhere. Odd for the area, there weren’t even that many decent restaurants. Either that or they were invisible to Google and However, I managed to find a decent sushi place close by. Other than that I was surrounded by chains. Trying my best to avoid the Chili’s on the same block as the hotel, I succumbed to laziness the last evening, and full of shame, choked down dinner there. I will say, I find the calorie counts on all the food in restaurant menus useful, but irritating. After setup I was jonesing for a steak and a cold beer in a big way, so I went to a BJ’s Brewhouse. The one that caught my eye was in a meal deal, sporting an eye-popping 1300 calories. Hoofah!…I picked a meal that would allow me to drink instead.

Since I don’t much care for California, I spent zero time checking the place out. There’s nothing in San Bruno to see, and I never found myself in the mood to venture to San Francisco. Matter of fact, I was more than ready to flee by the end of the week and wound up in the airport early. Not a big fan of SFO airport, however they had a break on Wifi – Answer these stupid questions, we’ll give you  free web. I like it.