Peter Sartell

Dear Travel Agent Trying To Hold On To His Last Client,

Nothing would make me happier than finally organizing my garage, but the back wall is cluttered with dozens of old, half-empty cans of paint and wood stain. Getting rid of these eyesores would certainly free up some useful space, but I have no idea how to dispose of paint in an environmentally responsible manner. Could you point me in the right direction?

—Clean Garage vs. Clean Planet

Dear Clean Garage,

Hey, hold on a minute, here, just hold on. I haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet! All right, let me tell you about this terrific package I've got lined up for you. Listen to this: 10 days in Ireland, rental car included, full breakfast, and, get this, you stay in a castle. Yup, an honest-to-God castle. Too good to be true, huh? No? Okay, okay. On second thought, you actually look like you could use a nice relaxing cruise around the Caribbean, or better yet, the Greek Isles. Yeah? Seven nights, five islands, top-deck ocean-view suite—you'll love it! You know what? It sounds so good I might even join you. How about I get on the horn right now and make this happen? Whoa, hey, don't get up—I've got plenty of others. Believe me, I've got it all: Alaska, Australia, Rome, you name it. Just tell me what you want and it's done. I'm here to make your life easier.


Dear Travel Agent Trying To Hold On To His Last Client,

Two of my coworkers recently began dating, and I must admit that I find their flirting in the office both distracting and unprofessional. I would like to bring up my discomfort with my boss, but there are no rules that bar dating at my workplace. Should I say something, or just get over it?

—Infuriated by the Infatuated

Dear Infuriated,

Yeah, yeah, I've heard of Travelocity and Expedia. But come on, do you really think some Internet site is actually looking out for you? Do they know your wife's name (Rebecca) or your kids'? So they've got some fancy computer formulas, big whoop. I've got a formula, too—it's called 25 years of insider know-how, extensive personal travel experience, and thousands of connections all over the world.


Dear Travel Agent Trying To Hold On To His Last Client,

I love my husband more than anything in this world, but one thing I don't love is his snoring. I've put up with it for years, but lately it's been driving me crazy. Short of a tonsillectomy, what tips do you have for getting rid of his snoring, or at least drowning it out?

—Sleepless Wife

Dear Sleepless Wife,

Now listen, what happens when you break your arm in Thailand and can't understand a word the doctor's saying? Who are you going to call then? Orbitz? If you think they're going to help you out, then, buddy, I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. But you can call me whenever, wherever, and I'll get you back out on the beach before you can even say the name Travelocity. Come on, you're a smart guy—you know that traveling isn't about pressing some buttons on your keyboard! It's about connecting with real people, like you and me are doing right now. So, you can go ahead and put your entire vacation in the hands of some dusty computer in some company's basement, or you can leave it to an industry professional like me. What do you say? Huh?


Dear Travel Agent Trying To Hold On To His Last Client,

Many of my friends are new parents and they seem to think they can take their children along with them wherever they go, including social gatherings. But I'm throwing a condo-warming party next weekend and I was hoping it would just be an adults-only affair. Can I ask my friends not to bring their toddlers, or is that rude?

—Kidded Out in Kansas City

Dear Kidded Out,

Just hear me out, okay? I've got an eye on exchange rates all day. You can't do that—you're a busy hotshot lawyer. And I can get traveler's checks for you on short notice, no problem. It's just what I do. No offense, but I bet you wouldn't even know where to start. You see this poster behind me? That's Hawaii. You say the word and your family is on a plane headed there tomorrow and there's a guy standing in the airport waiting to drive you to a beachside resort. It's called a vacation, my friend. You just sit back and relax while I take care of the details. Now, let's face it, you need me. Otherwise—and I'm just being honest here—you're going to get ripped off. The only way to get a real discount is to book a package deal, and lucky for you, my deals are cheaper than anything you'll find anywhere, guaranteed. Why don't you call up Orbitz right now and see if they can put together a better France-by-rail package? Here, you can use my phone. Go ahead and call. Trust me, I've got you covered. All right? You know what, I'm just going to put you down for that France-by-rail package.


Confidential to Devastated in Davenport,

Jesus Christ, what's it going to take, huh? I can't go any lower than $699, you know that! Are you trying to ruin me? I've got a family, too, you know. Christ, I'm the one who needs a vacation. Yeah, how do you like that? A vacation for me for a change. Maybe I'll grab a flight to Costa Rica and live like a goddamn king. Four-star resort, meals comped, all that shit. Don't think I can't do it! I have connections! I'll be sucking back margaritas on a goddamn white-sand beach and laughing my ass off, 'cause it could've been you sitting down there. But no, you had to be selfish and ruin what was a perfectly good business relationship. Eight years of me busting my hump for you, down the drain. Happy, asshole? I hope your Expedia-booked flight to Portugal crashes in the goddamned ocean.