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 by Ron Cruger
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The Board Meeting
        Charles Aileron III, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fershtunkina Airlines stood and asked for attention. “Ladies and Gentlemen the quarterly board meeting of Fershtunkina Airlines will come to order.”
        The twelve Board of Directors halted their idle conversations with each other and focused on the Chairman.
        Aileron III, wanting to set the tone of the meeting said, “As you know Fershtunkina has been having some cash flow problems over the past two years. In order to survive we’ve cut back in a number of areas, but now we’re going to have to tighten our belts even more.”
        Leonard P. Nutt, the longest serving board member raised his hand to be acknowledged.
        “Mr. Chairman, I agree with you. I think we’re going to have to reduce some of the frills we have remaining on our flights. For example, we know that America is being divided more and more into the rich and privileged on one hand and the other people, you know, the poor working stiff on the other. Let’s go where the money is – let’s go after the 1% business.” We can still keep our long-time company motto, “Safety First – When it’s possible!”
        Byron Chintzy, a board member since 1949, coughed and dabbed at the dribble of spittle flowing from the corner of his mouth. “I agree, let’s cut back on the free things we’ve been giving passengers. Let’s stop giving things away in coach and go after the real money – the rich people. We could enlarge business-class by converting that area to large seats that turn into quasi-beds. We could make them 6 feet long and two feet wide. After all, we could learn from the Emirates people. They sell their first class suites, complete with a shower for $19,000 on their New York-Dubai route.”
       The most progressive board member, Farquad de Chokem, added, “Good idea, Byron. I think we can do additional things to save money. I suggest that we charge passengers $5 for each carry-on bag, we could charge, like $3 for water and put a $10 charge on us printing out boarding passes. We could shrink the size of coach seats from 34 inches to 30 inches and have passengers sit a bit closer to each other. I’ve been thinking about us putting a $3 charge for each restroom use and installing a soda machine in the rear of each plane - $2 a can. And a peanut and candy bar machine in the middle of the coach section.”
       Board member Sandra Frugalson, itching to add to the conversation, added, “I’ve been thinking, do we really need all those stewardesses and what’s with that extra pilot up front. Can’t one guy fly these planes? It would save us a lot if we didn’t have so many of our own people on the planes. And when our planes land we could have the passengers head for the baggage area on the plane and they could hunt for their own luggage. Save us a lot of money.
       Chairman Aileron III stood again and offered, “Well, gentlemen, now we’re getting someplace. We’ve been giving things away for years. I think we’re on the right track. Now we’re getting serious. Before he died last year, our esteemed late board member, I.B. Callous wrote me with his suggestions for Fershtunkina. I’ll read them to you. He suggested that we replace carpeting on our planes with linoleum. He wonders if our planes really need windows. He wonders if we can do without those arm rests and also wonders if the air conditioning has to be on the whole time we’re in flight.”
       The board meeting continued for another two hours, during which time another two dozen cost- cutting measures were discussed.
       As the meeting ended Chairman Aileron III announced, “Thanks to each of you for your input. I feel that Fershtunkina Airlines is on its way to a healthy and bright future. All those other airlines better watch out. Here comes Fershtunkina!