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One Trump, No Heart

By Michael R. Grunwald

TWO weeks ago, I did a very bad thing.

It was late in the afternoon. I was in a rush. I was on spring break. I was not in socially-conscious-politically-correct-morally-sen sitive mode.

I broke down and bought a ticket for the Trump Shuttle.

With an elegantly attired airport concierge, burgundy porcelain sinks, an ultra-cellular "Seatfone" attached to every other seat and an in-flight magazine featuring articles on "Collectors Items For Under $10,000" for cost-conscious Yuppies, the Trump Shuttle is the perfect way to arrive at that power lunch in style.

It's also the ultimate sellout. Donald J. Trump is a money-mongering megalomaniac. Greed incarnate. A symbol of the decline of Western civilization. A union-busting, low-income tenantevicting real estate speculator. One of Them.

And I had just added 50 bucks to his already overflowing coffers--50 bucks he would probably use to privatize the post office ("Trump Mail"), buy a midsized East African nation ("Trumpabwe") or hire out unemployed garment workers as domesticated "Trump-pets."

I felt very guilty. I contemplated the nasty things I could do to get Trump's goat, such as carving "For a good time, call Ivana" into the meal tray or using my Seatfone to warn the cockpit that my fellow Hezbollah terrorists would blow up Trump Tower if I wasn't given a second serving of triangular cheese with a little cow on it.

Of course, I'm too wimpy to take a stand against the owner of the "Eighth Wonder of the World." I meekly waited for my plane to land, a pathetic display of irrationally troubled conscience.

THEN the pilot's gleeful voice came over the intercom. "Hey, we've got some winners!" he chortled. "We're one-and-a-half minutes late!"

The passengers erupted in ecstatic whooping noises. "Oooh yeah, baby," one gentleman exclaimed. "Dinner on the Trumpster tonight! Mmm, mmm, mmm," his hyperactive acquaintance added.

You see, under Trump's "On Time Guarantee," passengers receive a voucher for their choice of frequent flyer mileage, a free one-way companion ticket or a $20 American Express gift certificate whenever their plane is late. Even one-and-a-half minutes late.

Isn't that nice of him? I mean, all kidding aside, that's really generous Trump promises quality. If his product doesn't deliver, he pays. It's capitalism at its best. If Trump gets rich providing me excellent service and free flights, why should I complain about him?

LAST Sunday, I exchanged my voucher for a free companion ticket back to Boston. But that's not all. The nice woman on line who had agreed to say that I was her companion realized that it would be smarter for us to say that she was my companion, so that she would only pay one half-price student fare for the two of us.

"I'm sure Mr. Art-of-the-Deal can afford it," she chuckled.

As I boarded the flight, I felt guilty again. Who was I to rip off Trump, just because he was rich and I was jealous? My in-flight reading didn't do much to soothe my conscience. Kant had a whole example about the categorical imperative against swindling the selfish and well-to-do. The New York Times featured an article about the new Democratic leadership's commitment to "equal opportunity, but not equal outcome." My Ec 10 sourcebook--well, you can imagine what it had to say about robbing entrepreneurs.

And talk about hitting a man when he's down. The guy has just had a nasty public divorce, Garry B. Trudeau has just sacrificed his sense of humor to crush Trump daily in Doonesbury, Trump's USFL team has folded into oblivion, and here I was hindering his noble efforts to add to American GNP and quality of life.

I thought back to the time Trump sat a few boxes away from me at the U.S. Open, when my friend and I spent a half hour pointing imaginary rifles at him and sticking our tongues out at his bodyguards.

Why did I persecute this man?

As the plane landed, the pilot announced the time--2.15 p.m. Nine minutes before our scheduled arrival time. A collective groan spread through the cabin. Then the plane began to taxi. And taxi. And it kept on taxiing. We did a tour of the entire LaGuardia runway system. Finally, we arrived at the gate.

"Well, folks, you're in luck," the pilot snickered. "Two twenty-six. A Trump Shuttle representative will meet you at the gate."

The guilt shooting through me turned to outrage. Ungrateful wife, obnoxious customers, disloyal employees--Trump has overcome incredible obstacles on the way to the top, I thought. We should all take a little time out from our self-serving petty complaints and recognize a true American hero who climbed his way...

Suddenly, I realized that the second voucher I received was slightly different from the first. Beginning April 1, passengers on late flights would only receive 50 percent off a companion shuttle ticket. It was April 1. Happy April Fool's Day, and hope to see you back on the Trump Shuttle.

Fifty percent?

I began to feel irrationally guilty for ever feeling irrationally guilty about irrationally hating Trump. As if he ever cared about quality. That bastard was just out to make a lousy buck.

Hey, Donald! Ivana was ugly, and she left you, and no one likes you, and you're going to be remembered as a greedy, crooked, exploitative publicity hound when you kick the bucket just like everyone else does.

And I'm never flying the Trump Shuttle again.

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