Everyone we’ve talked to at AOL is very much looking forward to the spinoff from Time Warner (TWX).
But let’s face it, there is a downside to leaving the confines of a glass-doored global media conglomerate to brave the world as yet another startup.
For one, with the split, we understand AOL will leave much of its well-paid HR, PR and finance folks behind at Time Warner.
For another, we wonder if CEO Tim Armstrong will get to keep flying around the country and world in a Gulfstream V.
If no, Tim could be in for quite the withdrawal.
In a short story in this month’s Vanity Fair, Tom Wolfe tells the story of a group of Wall Street execs who are used to flying private, but take bailout money and are forced to fly commercial.
Here’s the passage where Wolfe’s narrator describes what it’s like to fly private:
If there was no stewardess aboard, the captain or the co-captain would come back into the passenger cabin and ask us what we’d like to drink. We would be lounging lushly in what was designed as a living room, not an aeroplane cabin. There were mahogany, walnut, and amboyna inlays all over the place … You never had to sit next to anybody. You had your own virtual easy chair and all the legroom in the world … and cantilevered tabletops made of the same rich, spectacularly grained woods.
And here’s the narrator’s horror over flying commercial:
Inside the airport—a vast hippodrome … endless vistas … disembodied nasal voices issuing endless orders—orders!—to us!—over speakers from on high, somewhere up in the dome of the hippodrome, at a universally solvent pitch … do not leave your belongings unattended at any time or they will be removed … people in endless lines that folded back upon themselves like the lines at Disney World … do not accept luggage or any object from any stranger who asks you to carry it aboard a flight … endless lines of ordinary people who didn’t have girls to e-care of their tickets … notify authorities immediately of any such occurrence … and had to slide heavy bags along the floor, inch by inch, to reach a counter where they might check them as they bought their tickets … do not leave a vehicle at the curb unattended at any time, or it will be towed … and no one, not even we, could avoid a line where more $10-an-hour zookeepers asked us to identify ourselves again … do not attempt to carry any liquid container of more than three ounces aboard any aircraft … and inspected us up and down again before admitting us to what proved to be the inner coils of Hell …
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