Taxing HHorse-drawn Paris Mitts

I hope that you’re well and happy. Here in Zürich, Nazy and I have been preparing for a trip to the USA. Naturally, I turned to the Internet:

What would we do without the Internet?” I thought as I navigated to

We wanted to visit Santa Fe and New York City (because it’s ‘The Big Apple’). Nazy also wanted to see Mitra and Melika (and Shahriar, Stefan, Tom,
Layla and Bahi) ‘on the way’ so I was directed to find an inexpensive routing via California.

“Seventh grade geography precludes that possibility.” I said.

“Look at a Polar Route.”

Polar route? I might as well consult a Polar Bear,” I thought. “Yes dear,” I said.

It quickly became clear that it would not be economically wise to fly directly to Santa Fe. So, ignoring the fact that no one can spell ‘Albuquerque’, I selected a route through ABQ. I decomposed the journey into ‘intercontinental’ and ‘domestic’ segments, skillfully compared booking sites, and evaluated single carrier options. Constraints were tight: upgradable, economical flights on St
r alliance carriers (except, of course, US Airways and Air Canada). I eventually constructed an open-jaw ticket: Zürich to ABQ (via Los Angeles); ABQ to Zürich (via New York).

As I finalized our order with my Visa™ Card, Nazy mumbled something like “Told you so” and asked about hotel selections.

“The Frugal Inn is best,” I replied after noting that the
tax on our flight was 80.12%

“Then it’s great that Hilton is offering 30% discount for a weekend stay.”

Hilton, eh?” I thought. “I always stayed at the Hilton when I was traveling for HP.”

“Check it out, Dan.” Nazy noted as she handed me the Hilton offer.

“I’ll do more than that,” I replied. “
I believe I have a few HHonors points,” I thought.

It turned out that Hilton had been sending updates to an old email address. I made a correction and discovered that I had
1,290,000 HHonors points. “Probably enough for a night at a rural Garden Inn,” I thought as I clicked “redemption”. “Wow!” I exclaimed.

“Good discount?” Nazy asked.

“We can get free rooms,” I replied.

“In Santa Fe?”

“Everywhere! Would the Waldorf-Astoria be acceptable for New York City?”


“Would you prefer the Royal or the Presidential Suite?”

“Don’t use all your points, Dan. We may want to..”

“It is impossible to use all my points,” I replied.

As I wrapped up the details, Nazyasked about another trip - to see relatives in..

“... Teheran? I don’t think...”

“Stop interrupting,” Nazy interrupted. “I want to go to Paris to see my aunts and cousins.”

I waited for the punctuation mark before responding: “Why didn’t you say so?”

“I just did. I can take the TGV train for 279 Francs. Second Class. Each way.”

“What about flying?” I said, checking the Swiss website. “A round trip flight to Paris is 54 Francs, before taxes which..”

“... were
333%!” I explained in a chat with Darius. “The ticket cost 54 Francs. Taxes were 124 Francs.”

“Government is evil.”


“Politicians exist solely to enrich themselves.”

While we were chatting Nazy, in town, telephoned with astonishing information.

“If you want to join me for lunch, you’d better leave now.”

“Now? It won’t take that long on the tram.”

“The trams are not working.”

“In Zürich? Come now.”

“There has been an electricity failure.”

“Who authorized that?”

Flustered and disillusioned, I gathered my stuff, left the apartment and walked to the tram stop. I immediately confirmed Nazy’s information. Five trams had been abandoneds near the Römerhof. Confused and perplexed residents were milling about - muttering and puttering. Nevertheless, human helpfulness had exerted its influence in the devastated area. A nearby apothecary provided smelling salts. I expected blankets and tents to float down from hovering helicopters. But: I had to get to lunch so I walked through the trembling crowd.

Wo ist Tram 15? Es ist 12.17 Uhr. Warum? Es geht nicht. Was können wir tun?” (“Where is Tram 15? It is 12:17PM. Why? It doesn’t go. What can we do?”)

Es ist das Ende der Welt.” I replied. “Wir müssen zu Fuß gehen. Die Tram is gebrochen.”
(“It is the end of the world,” I replied. “We must walk. The Tram is broken.”)

Gebrochen? Was bedeudet das?”
(“Broken? What does that mean?”)

As I walked toward town, a few adventurous souls followed. The trams were still off-line after lunch. It was unprecedented. The locals were not happy. I overheard one complaining to a transport authority representative.

Wenn wir von Pferden gezogenen Straßenbahnen verwendet, würde dies nicht passieren.”
(“When we used horse-drawn trams, things like this did not happen.”)

And finally, the Republican Presidential Primary is always good for material. Mitt Romney released his tax return and: “It shows,” I commented to Nazy “that the tax law is too complex. 500+ pages! And too unfair. He paid 13.9%.”

“But he says that he’ll create jobs.”

“Mitt, my dear, will say
anything to be elected.”

“13.9%, eh? Should we buy an airplane Dan?”


“If Mitt flew commercial, then his taxes would be more than 13.9%. You’re always complaining about our taxes, so...”

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