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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Upgrade Fees and My Strange Weekend Encounter

Hello Troops,
We were busy last week and this week promises more of the same.  It is good to be busy.  Busy means people like us and people liking us means the Center is accomplishing its goals.  I want to thank all the students, teachers, campers and everyone else for supporting the Center through your attendance.  We are here because of you.  I have never forgotten that.

Upgraded Fees.  A Ferengi Approach to the Space Center Fee Structure

I'm up at 5:45 A.M. on any given Saturday morning.  First item of business is to clean myself up.  I can't make my pre dawn donut trek to Walmart looking like I just rolled out from under my newspaper on the downtown park bench.

Finding hot water to wash one's hair and face is a challenge in a school built before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states!  The school's boiler takes a bit of wheedling to get it to deliver.  I don't have the fifteen minutes or so to wait for shy, temperate water to come through the faucet.  My solution is the custodial office's mop sink and private hot water heater.  The mop sink delivers piping hot water in seconds with enough water pressure to make Crammer jealous (Seinfeld reference).  It has a hose attached to the faucet  making it fairly easy to wash my hair.  It couldn't be easier although I can think of several ways it could be more convenient.

I finish the 'getting ready for the donut run' in the school bathroom.  A quick electric shave,  a lathering of the teeth and the application of deodorant and I'm good to go.  I emerge looking like I just stepped through the school's doors after a somewhat restful night's sleep at home.  Of course, not having had time to shower, and not wanting to cause undo alarm that there is a natural gas leak in the building, I'm liberal with the application of cologne as my staff will attest when I stand under a mist of what I lovingly refer to as 'Le parfum de crème anti-moustiques').

I wake the staff up first at 6:40 A.M.  They do their best to become presentable, handicapped the way they are using only the school's bathroom with shy water. They sleepily stagger into the Discovery Room for our staff prep rally.  Our Saturday morning staff prep rally is designed to ignite a fire under the staff and get them ready for a morning of missions in our simulators.   The rally starts with the consumption of carbohydrates to get the blood sugar levels up.  I use Walmart donuts to accomplish the task.  The glazed variety was our standard for years until I decided to shake things up and switch to chocolate frosted.  The staff were amazed, but hid their gratitude well, not wanting to make a scene.  What emotions we have on a Saturday morning must be held in reserve for the missions and the campers.

After the the donuts are eaten and fingers licked, we meditate.  That is done with everyone staring at the tabletop before them.  Some look asleep, but I can assure you they are not.  The whole thing is reminiscent of a old time Quaker Sabbath Meeting.   At times someone will break the silence and speak on a topic of their choosing.

"We've got a good crew," someone says.
"We blew ours up several times last night, " says another.

We all look at each other wondering if someone else will take the topic and run with it.  If not, our gaze returns to the table tops.  We wait.  The sound of the heating / air conditioning unit on the roof fills the void.

Occasionally, Mr. Daymont will educate us on the latest national and world news.  Then there are the times when the meeting gets downright silly, as it did on Saturday.  I thought to lighten the day by tossing a nonsensical into the mix.

"How could we increase the money we make on our Overnight Camps?" I asked.  Everyone looked at me wondering if the obvious answers eluded me.  "I know we could raise prices, but isn't there a way we could do it without raising prices?"  I could tell they were confused.  I offered an example.
"Suppose we offered Bell Hop Service at the front door?  Colton, last night you could have taken the parent permission forms and Scott could have offered to take the camper's sleeping bags and pillows to the storage area in the gym, thus saving them from having to do it themselves.  Bell hop service, one dollar.  Scott gets to keep a quarter per bag and the Space Center pockets the rest.  What do you think?"

"What about valet parking?" Osborne said with one index finger raised in the air over his head signalling the arrival of a brilliant idea.

"Awesome!" shouted the young volunteer beside him, showering Osborne in spittle.

"OH MY (I couldn't make out the next word). I've been hit!  MAN DOWN, MAN DOWN!"  Osborne jumped to his feet with such speed his chair fell over backwards.

"Watch who you're talking at with that washing machine of a mouth!" Osborne shouted with contempt.  He unzipped his fanny pack and produced a string of Lysol wipes.  We watched as he scrubbed his arms and face clean.  He tossed the used wipes in the trash,  rezipped his Sanitary Holster and found a safer place to stand in the corner of the room.  The young volunteer sunk down deep in his chair out of embarrassment.  Only his small brown eyes could be seen over the table top.

"OK.......... good idea Osborne.  Valet Parking.  We could make the entire school's parking lot valet parking.  I wonder if our camper's parents would object to a 13 or 14 year old offering to park their $45,000 Mercedes for them."

Tim acted out the scene for us. "Hello sir, I'll take those keys."

"We could charge extra for upgraded sleeping accommodations," I suggested.  "The standard $43.00 fee gets you a place on the floor free of the those tiny sugar ants.  For a couple bucks more you get a cot.  For a whole lot more you get the luxury of sleeping in one of the Voyager's deluxe crew cabins, complete with triple bunk, mattress and access to a bathroom nearby."

 Voyager's 3rd Class lining up for their Green Apple Jolly Rancher

Voyager's 2nd Class campers waiting for permission to 'dig in'

Several other ideas were shared.  We all agreed the morning breakfast was one area we could charge an additional upgrade fee.  For the standard $43.00 fee, the camper gets the 3rd Class Steerage Breakfast consisting of one Green Apple Jolly Ranger candy.  Green Apple of course for the fruit value.  For an additional fee, the camper would get the Second Class breakfast of WalMart donuts, Gogurts and your choice of an apple, orange or banana.  Simulated orange juice, milk and chocolate milk would be included in the 2nd class breakfast.  For the premium 1st Class Fee, the camper would get to have breakfast with ME in the Voyager's Galley.  The meal would be cooked to order by the Voyager's very own Adrian Stevens.  The campers would feast on the finest of foods and a healthy dose of several of my better anecdotes and stories of life in Starfleet, on the cutting edge of civilization.  A breakfast never to be forgotten, and worth every penny.

Voyager's 1st Class camper breakfast, complete with an engaging conversation with Mr. Williamson

The clock in the Discovery Room showed it was time to get the campers up.  Our discussion ended.
The ole creative juices were flowing and hearts pumping at the thought of addition income.  Then came the sobering reality that we couldn't do any of it.  The camper's standard $43.00 fee gets them everything we have to offer.  All are equal at the Space Center (except of course for the hourly ranking system.  We do like to reward our frequent flyers with a small privilege or two).   It was back to work.  We woke up the campers from Wyoming, Idaho and Utah and sent them to the cafeteria for the standard 2nd class breakfast.  Great campers, great staff and .........  interesting food  :)

My Early Morning Encounter

A strange thing happened to me early Saturday morning.  I was sleeping near the Magellan's hallway door.  I got up at 5:45 A.M. to get ready for the WalMart donut run.  I grabbed my shoes, car keys, towel and overnight bag and opened the door.  I stepped out of the Magellan, turned left to walk down the school's hallway and stopped dead in my tracks.   A yellow helium filled balloon blocked my way.  It was suspended right in the middle of the hallway, equal distance between each wall and  between the floor and ceiling.  It was nearly motionless.  I stood still and watched as it moved ever so slightly down the hall, carried on the slightest wind created by my approach.


"Hello?" I queried.  I almost expected some kind of reaction.  It was backing away from me, like it was startled that I had stumbled upon its explorations of the school.  I followed it as it moved.

"Where did you come from?" I asked.  I watched for a reaction.  I watched for some sign of intelligence.  Perhaps it was an alien probe disguised as a yellow balloon.  It was only then I realized how stupid I looked standing there carrying on a conversation with a yellow balloon.  Especially considering it had no intention of answering me.  I moved around it, wished it the best of luck, and carried on toward the custodian's office to get ready for the day.

Let's all have a great week!

Mr. Williamson

P.S.  I don't know what happened to the yellow balloon.  Perhaps one of the staff or volunteers can tell me how it met its demise. 
          

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