If airlines sold paint

Copyright Alan Hess, first published in Travel Weekly in October of 1998.
This version of the satire has deviated from the original, but any laughs you may experience should be credited to Alan.


Customer: Hi. How much is your paint?

Clerk: We have regular quality for $12 a gallon and premium for $18. How
many gallons would you like?

Customer: Five gallons of regular quality, please.

Clerk: Great. That will be $60 plus tax.


Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?

Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends.

Customer: Depends on what?

Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.

Customer: How about giving me an average price?

Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest price is $9 a gallon,
and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.

Customer: What's the difference in the paint?

Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference; it's all the same paint.

Customer: Well, then, I'd like some of that $9 paint.

Clerk: Well, first I need to ask you a few questions.  When do you intend
to use it?

Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.

Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is the $200 paint.

Customer: What? When would I have to paint in order to get the
$9 version?

Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to
start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at
least Sunday.

Customer: You've got to be kidding!

Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll have to check to see
if we have any of that paint available before I can sell it to you.

Customer: What do you mean check to see if you can sell it to me?  You have
shelves full of that stuff; I can see it right there.

Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we have it.  It may be
the same paint, but we sell only a certain number of gallons on any given
weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price just went to $12.

Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking!

Clerk: Yes, sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a
day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint
yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen
again, I would suggest that you get on with your purchase. How many gallons
do you want?

Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons. Maybe I should buy six
gallons just to make sure I have enough.

Clerk: Oh, no, sir, you can't do that. If you buy the paint and then don't
use it, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the
paint you already have.

Customer: What?

Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to do your kitchen,
bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do
the bedroom, you will be in violation of our tariffs.

Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use all the paint?  I
already paid you for it!

Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's just the way it is. 
We make plans based upon the idea that you will use all the paint, and when
you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems.  Oh, and the price just
went up to $17.50 a gallon.

Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible will happen if don't
keep painting until after Saturday night!

Clerk: Yes, sir, it will.

Customer: Well, that does it! I'm going somewhere else to buy my paint.

Clerk: That won't do you any good, sir.  All of our co-conspirators, er,
competators have the same rules. You might as well just buy it here, while
the price is now $28 a gallon.

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