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Monday, May 23, 2005

A lap around the lake

Reflections about Lake Placid:

The hotel where we stayed was on a short but steep hill; taking it slowly was advisable. It wasn't too onerous, though I broke a sweat pushing the baby carriage up on the one hot day we had.

Right at the bottom of the hill is Mirror Lake. It's called that because when you're on the far side of the lake, you can see the buildings of Main Street reflected in the water as though it get the idea. The conference presenters, including myself, received a framed photo of the lake, which is quite lovely. The path around the lake is a 2.7 miles of red brick.

There is a Kate Smith library (which is but one room) in the hotel, and a couple blocks from the hotel, a Kate Smith Avenue. Several other places are named for the singer as well. She summered there for 40 years and was baptized in the village in 1965. For more about Kate (and to hear "God Bless America" in an interminable loop), you can go here.

One afternoon just off the hotel lobby, there was some kid hitting on a stuffed seven-foot (or so, it was seated) bear that was perched on a bobsled from the 1932 Olympics (or a good replica of same), while his mother watched, seemingly unconcerned. I was quite annoyed until I realized what a great headline it would make: "Belligerent Boy Beats Bobsled Bear."

There was a bakery that had THE most annoying sign on its wall - 35 "stupid" things that their customers have asked, and their "clever" responses:
"Do you bake everything here?" "No, we have it flown in from Chicago. The plane lands right on Main Street to deliver daily."
"Aren't you hot in here?" "Yes, but we can eat what we want and sweat it off."
"What's a Snickerdoodle?" "There is a sign in the showcase. It is in front of a Snickerdoodle."
"Is that ALL you have?" "No, we keep the really good stuff for ourselves to eat later."
And my personal favorite:
"Do you have any water?" "No, we lick our dirty dishes clean."
My wife wouldn't go back there because of this rude "humor" (and despite the quality of its pastries), and I absolutely agree with her on this. Telling your customers that they're stupid is a bad marketing plan.

That sign is much worse than the one I saw in a Lake Placid restaurant a couple years ago. I'm paraphrasing the first part, but the second is a direct quote: "We cook your food to order. Not responsible for overcooked meat."

I've been here twice in the past three years, and I'd come again any time. (But I've never been here in the winter, nor during the notorious black fly season, so maybe not ANY time.)

Our driver on the way home, the Hoffinator, warned us to expect a roadblock on Interstate 87 so that officials could check for illegal immigrants. This is not at the Canadian border crossing, but some 20-25 south of there. She had made the trip up to Lake Placid and back to Albany several times in helping to plan the conference. But, surprise - no checkpoint. We were oddly disappointed.

What was it that Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, while she clicked the ruby slippers?


thebossman said...

I agree about that bakery sign. I have noticed how more and more businesses find that kind of thing funny. I guess it comes down to give and take:

There are an increasing number of rude and obnoxious customers and an increasing number of rude and obnoxious companies/businesses/employees.

Who came first? That's the same riddle as the egg and chicken one.

socks said...

Ah, beautiful Lake Placid. We were there during the 1980 Winter Olympics, and at least one non-Olympics year. I remember it as a quaint and lovely town. I'm sure the sudden rush of outsiders (both domestic and foreign) did a bit of damage to the natives' outlook on humanity, though. It's funny how often people don't take the time to understand the other side. I guess sometimes people get so locked into their own thinking and version of reality, that they don't realize how they appear to outsiders. A perfect example is the rude sign in the bakery. Yes, perhaps 200 people have asked if they have water, but the 201st person has no idea what came before. To the employees, this may be annoying, but the thirsty customer would have no reason to even guess that this is the case. I'm not even saying this isn't an annoying question to the employees, but lists of such questions or bothersome customers used to be a favorite posting in the back room of establishments — not posted for the customers.