Monday, October 15, 2012

Oahu: No Pay, No Lei

Three years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. Well, "celebrated" is probably the wrong word. I had suffered through a protracted period of unemployment when the economy tanked, so we were unable to afford anything exciting. This year, we chose to visit Hawaii as a form of consolation.

It's a long trip from Florida - 5 hours to Los Angeles, a 4-hour layover, and then another 5 hours to Honolulu. It started with a bad omen: When we tried to check in at the automated terminal, it spawned some kind of error, forcing us to wait in line for a ticket agent.


Things continued to deteriorate. The pilot taxied to the runway, but had to return to the terminal when a passenger became ill. We were an hour late taking off. Once in the air, I discovered to my horror that the six movies I had loaded onto my phone had somehow been deleted. My wife had borrowed an Android tablet with a Kindle app so that she could read on the plane. But once we left the airport wi-fi, all of the books she had selected to read magically disappeared from the device.

In Los Angeles, we were an hour late taking off because the "tug" vehicle used to push the aircraft out of the gate broke down, and the ground crew had to find another one to replace it.

By the time we landed in Honolulu, were exhausted and cranky. However, we were both looking forward to a Hawaiian tradition where girls in traditional dress greet weary travelers at the airport and drape a flower lei over their heads. I don't know where this idea comes from, but I remember seeing movies of the practice on television. I assumed it was paid for by the Hawaii department of tourism. But there were no girls, no greeting, no leis.

Oh, you could buy one if it was really important to you. Vendors in the airport sold long strands of orchid leis hanging in refrigerated cases.


So my only cherished concept of the Hawaiian Islands was crushed. I wondered what happened to the tradition. Perhaps the lei girls were laid off when the economy tanked, and after a protracted period of unemployment, took long vacations to Florida.

1 comment:

Lizard said...

Someone tried to joke with me the other day about how going to Hawaii gets you "Lei'd". I got to exclaim "Not unless you pay for it!" Lucky for me our friend Charlie bought lei's at Costco before scooping us at the airport.