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  October 28, 2011
It is the People Along the Way...


Q:  What could possibly compel a person to awaken at 2:30am, 3:00am, 3:30am, and finally 4:00am on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning?

A:  The fear of missing one’s 6:30am flight of course...(you know...the one obviously booked by an insane person).

They say that the biggest fear in a person’s life is either speaking in public or the fear of death (depending on who you are talking to...they may be one in the same).  For me, that biggest fear is oversleeping for an early morning flight...followed closely by the fear of leaving my government issued ID at home on the dresser.

After a long hiatus, I finally decided it was time to get back on the road to visit the many OptiFuse distributors and customers.  This trip is the first in a long series of trips still ahead where I hope to visit 12 different sections of the US over the next 12 months.  It may seem like an ambitious goal to some or simply lollygagging to some true professional "road warriors".

I decided that visiting Chicago, Wisconsin, and the Twin Cities was far better thing to do in late October than in early February so I made the northern Midwest my first stop.

Today I’d like to share a few thoughts, comments and observations about traveling to the Midwest...

Air Transportation

The airline I chose to fly had a stopover in Denver where the weather was unseasonably pleasant.  The first segment from San Diego was without incidence (or maybe I was still sleeping), but after boarding the plane for the second installment to Chicago, the pilot announced to the cabin that his instruments indicated there was a slight oil leak in one of the engines and that we’d would be delayed about 30-45 minutes while maintenance fixes the problem. 

Personally, I didn’t mind this delay at all as the airline provided its passengers with individual seat-back satellite TV so I could comfortably sit back and watch the early morning NFL football games.  My seat mate however seemed to be a bit more upset at the airlines than me.  He continually cursed the name of the airline vowing NEVER to fly with them again as though he was doing them a giant favor flying them in the first place.

Now I’m no historian, but it wasn’t all that long ago that people actually had to ride in a covered wagon from Chicago to California...a trek that took some 4-6 months to complete and where approximately 20% of the people perished before arriving at their chosen destination from famine, disease, and arrows from casino-owning-Americans.

This guy was bemoaning the fact that we had to sit in a comfortable plane...watch satellite TV...and still arrive at our destination within a few hours of boarding...life sucks for some people.

Myself...I sort of liked the idea that we were on the ground fixing an oil leak rather than trying to get to Chicago on one engine...

Rental Cars

Problem...cities, counties and states are near bankruptcy...

People who rent cars are typically people who don’t live in that particular city or state.  Therefore rental car customers are not voters in the local lawmakers’ jurisdiction.  

Additionally people who DO actually live in the city, county and/or state do vote and they tend to look unfavorably on lawmakers who raise taxes.

Solution...tax the people who can’t vote them out of office. 

I thought I was renting a car in Chicago for $24.50 a day...but in reality, I was renting a car for $24.50 plus $48.78 a day in state and local taxes and governmental fees, bringing my total rental costs to $73.28 per day. 

It’s a sad day when the taxes on a product or service are nearly 2x’s more than that of actual product or service iteself. 

(While I’m on the subject...food and items purchased at Chicago Midway is taxed at 12.25% whereas the sales tax in Chigago away from the airport is only 9.25%... hmmm interesting).


Jim’s inverse hotel rule...the more prestigious the hotel name...the more likely additional fees will be added to your bill...

I stayed at a high-end chain in Chicago (due to a great Priceline purchase price) and ended up paying $22/day for parking and $12.99/day for Internet service (I decided to pass on the $4.50 bottled water in my room).  I’m just happy that a $10 per day "resort fee" wasn’t added to my bill as well.

Later on the trip, I stayed at a great local hotel (non-chain variety) in Wisconsin and not only had free parking, and high-speed internet service, they provided their guests with a "welcome beer" in their lounge (it is Wisconsin after all) as well as a free buffet breakfast!  I’ll definitely be staying there again someday.

By the way...if you travel a lot and you don’t use Priceline to purchase your hotel rooms...then you’re costing yourself a lot of extra money...just one frequent traveler’s opinion.


I’ve been all over the world several times over and I have never encountered nicer or friendlier people than those in the Midwest.  I’m sure that there must be some rude and obnoxious people somewhere there...but I sure haven’t met them as of yet...

Midwesterners might tell a salesman to go to hell...but they’ve come to see you off with a sandwich and a pop just in case you get hungry along the way...

I think that we could all learn a thing or two by wearing a big smile on our faces and greeting everyone we see each day with a warm "hi...how’s it going?"...

It’s certainly tough to be away from home, but the wonderful people you meet along the way makes it worth the trip...

It’s not the places that make the trip memorable...it’s the people.

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we understand that our customers are people not companies...

Jim Kalb


Previous Blogs

Something for Nothing...

Striking a Balance...

The Ride of Your Life...

Thoughts from the Road...

Bargain Hunting...

A Lifetime of Friends...

Football is Back...

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