By Robert Tennison
After retiring from my airline career as a steward, I decided it would be fun to still stay connected to the travel business, so I took a job with American Factors. AMFAC, among extensive property holdings, owned sixteen hotels in the Hawaiian Islands. Most of these hotels were ranked “Deluxe,” but there were a few First Class hotels on each island as well.
My primary duty with Island Holiday, the AMFAC division I represented, was to invite travel agents to use AMFAC hotels and to tour the Islands courtesy of AMFAC expense…in order, of course, to be better able to convince clients to stay at AMFAC hotels. Agents from these various states would assemble in Dallas where they boarded non-stop flights on American, Continental, or United.
Now, you would naturally assume that since most of these agents had already sold trips to Hawaii and would hopefully sell many more in the future that they would know something about Hawaii and the other islands. Not so. I was so amazed at the ignorance of some of the agents who were going with me that I would be afraid to let them out of my sight until bedtime.
Some of the questions after the agents received the AMFAC invitations made me wonder how they ever managed to become agents. You might wonder the same thing after you look at this list of some of their actual questions:
What currency do they use there?
Do I need a passport?
What language do they speak?
I hate flying. Can I leave two days earlier by train?
Do we take a tour bus to the other islands or do we fly on little airplanes? (This man cancelled even after I assured him the inter-island planes were NOT little.)
When I read the names of some of the agents I wondered if they were handpicked as a joke, as I had not had that many strange names on one trip ever before or after. There was a Bagdaddy, a Boomsma, a Belcher, and a Walkingstick, although Walkingstick was not particularly unusual for a girl from an Oklahoma Indian family, and her fellow agent, also from Oklahoma, had a rather ordinary name, Armstrong. The worst name on the list was Harney, a man who was so proud of it that his main entertainment in life was—when he was introducing himself to somebody—holding out his hand and saying, “Hi! I’m Harney,” which would bounce that person, usually a female, back about five feet.
On this trip I was sitting in First Class when the hostess came up to me and asked me to speak with one of my girls in Tourist who was causing a commotion. Apparently Walkingstick had had more than her share of complimentary drinks and during the movie, she said at the top of her voice, “This is a really shitty movie.”
Reluctantly taking charge, I worked Walkingstick back to her seat and told her no more drinks. Her companion Armstrong, in the seat beside her, ran her tongue around the inside of her glass before she handed it to me and winked. I noticed her blouse was now unbuttoned about half-way down. I told them both to behave and go to sleep (which I would attribute to passing out). Strike One.
The worst was yet to come. Little did I know that I was an unpaid pimp bringing two “ladies of the night” into Hawaii. Later that evening four of us were dining at an outdoor restaurant when we looked up to see Walkingstick knocked into the gutter by a street walker who assumed Walkingstick was cutting in on her territory. Strike Two.
We helped the squaw back to the hotel. Walkingstick did not have her key. When Walkingstick started to scream and Armstrong started to scream back through the closed door someone called hotel security. The security guard opened the door and immediately a strange man holding a large pink bra against his face rushed out. Then the security guard returned and moved the squaw to another room. Strike Three.
Well, everyone knows what happens after the third strike.