by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments



Dear Everybody,

Well, we just landed in Hawaii, and I must tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

And I’m not just saying that.

For one thing, it’s cold. I mean, it’s really cold. Like I’m-still-wearing-my-winter-coat cold. Grass skirts? Ha! The people in this airport dress in scarves and gloves. And I’m not just saying that.

Where’s the non-stop sunshine, you ask? That’s what I ask. Do you know what I see when I look out the pane-glass windows? I see gray skies. Gray skies. Can you imagine?

I must admit, this is hardly what my colleague, Tommy George, and I counted on when we boarded the plane in Detroit this morning.

Not that we expected a vacation. I mean, we treated this Saturday’s Michigan vs. Hawaii football game as we would any other crucial, news-breaking, deadline-beating assignment, which is why we packed the tennis rackets. But, I must admit — and I think Tommy will back me up on this, as soon as he comes off the plane — that I expected a little more, well, tropical environment.

I mean, look. That guy is drinking hot cocoa.

And I’m not just saying that.No reason to envy us

Where are the pineapples? Where is Don Ho? Where are those women who greet you at the plane and put a lei around your neck and say, “Welcome to our tropical island paradise, you handsome stud” — or something like that. Where are they? I know we booked economy class, but come on.

There were no women to greet us at the airport. You know who greeted us? A middle-age airline representative who told us where to make our gate connections. In Hawaii? Where are we connecting to? Guam?

And there was no ukulele music, either.

And I’m not just saying that.

Now, I know some of you were a tad upset when Tommy and I got this assignment. Hey. I understand. Why should we get to go to sunny Hawaii, when you’re stuck in a miserable Michigan winter, right? Under the circumstances, you reacted normally. I should have the spray paint cleaned off my house by this afternoon.

Still, I wish you could be here to see this. You wouldn’t envy us at all.

No surfboards. No sails. No scooters. And, on top of everything I can’t tell you how stupid I feel standing here in my Hawaiian shirt and my baggy shorts, holding a bottle of Coppertone, which I bought at the drugstore before I left, and . . .

Hey. What the–?

It’s snowing.

What a fraud!Definitely not my kind of town

That really cuts it. Snow? In the islands? You know, before I got here, everyone said, “Oh, you lucky so-and-so, you get to go to Hawaii.” Actually, they said, “Oh, you slimeball rodent, I hope you die in midair.” But they should see this. Snow. And everyone’s rushing through the airport as if there’s no tomorrow. And I might as well forget about a suntan. Fat chance. Look at how pale these people are.

Volcanoes? Ha! All I see are clouds. And beaches? Yeah, right. Beaches. Like that woman in the ski parka just came in from the beach, I suppose.

About the only good thing I can report is that the flight went quickly. I fell asleep as soon as we boarded and when I woke up we were landing here in Hawaii. It didn’t feel like 12 hours.

Big deal.

And I’m not just saying that.

And I don’t see any pina coladas.

So, lighten up, you guys. You’re not missing a thing. This place is a joke. I bet their team plays in long sleeves. And to think I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the boss to tell him how crucial a game this was for Michigan.

When I get back, I’m giving that travel agent a piece of my mind, and same goes for my next-door neighbor, and if any of you make wisecracks like “Eat any papaya lately, you handsome American stud?” well, I can’t be held responsible for my actions, because this is really ticking me off, it’s a real downer, for me, and I’m sure for Tommy, too.

Isn’t that right, Tommy? I mean, look around us. They’re wearing snow boots, for heaven’s s–

What’s that . . . ?


Tommy says relax. We’re not in Hawaii yet.

This is Chicago.

Never mind.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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