Before I let both barrels fly, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I have several very good friends in the United Kingdom. I know in my heart of hearts that they would never condone this kind of unconscionable behavior, else they would not be friends of mine. I am somewhat soothed in that Parliament is not allowing this to go unattended now that it has come to international attention–especially since the entire male line of succession to the British Throne all the way to the Earl of Wessex (that’s Prince Edward to the rest of us Americans) is currently or has in the past served in the British military.
That having been said, make sure you’ve taken your blood pressure medication before reading this article from the London Times.
Heart rate back under control, Sports Fans? Good, then I can comment on this article. First off: Thanks to everyone who has Napalmed “American Amusements,Ltd.” They’re the parent company of the Metro Hotel in Woking, Surrey. That is the hotel that made a soldier, wounded while jumping out of a truck that was being attacked by Afghan insurgents, sleep in his coupe because it was “hotel policy” to deny lodging to soldiers. Interesting, isn’t it, that a Google search of both American Amusements and the Metro Hotel failed to turn up a company-owned website. Guess they don’t want the public to find them.
Now, back to Cpl. Tomos Stringer, the young Welshman who has spent the last 8 years serving Queen and Country, most recently in Afghanistan. When he jumped from that bullet-riddled truck onto the Afghan dirt, he broke his wrist. Still, he fared better than his buddy from Surrey, who didn’t survive the attack. Cpl. Stringer was accompanying his buddy’s corpse home for burial. This was no beachside holiday, no weekend debauchery. This was business of the most serious kind.
So what does the Metro Hotel in Woking, Surrey do? Check-in was going just peachy until Cpl. Stringer showed his military ID as a guaranty. In the US, that usually gets you a 10% discount. At the Metro Hotel in Woking, Surrey, it gets you thrown on your bum in the street. Cpl. Stringer was too exhausted from the ordeals of recuperation, intercontinental travel, and the stress and mental/physical demands of accompanying your buddy’s body back to his family for burial. Rather than be a danger to himself and/or others by driving in such a fatigued state, he chose to sleep in his minuscule Euro-coupe.
My fellow Americans, trust me, the average working-wage European drives something roughly the size of a can of Vienna sausage. How big is a can of Vienna sausage? About this big: click here.
At least the rank-and-file Brit is as outraged as I am, according to the Times article. Too bad it took “American Amusements, Ltd.”‘s phone ringing off the hook, letters from several Members of Parliament (what “MP” stands for in Britain, instead of “Military Police”) and a few organized efforts at consumer hijinks to get the scuzbags to make a half-hearted apology under duress to Cpl. Stringer (my favorite was the group trying to organize an effort to book the hotel solid, then cancel en masse at the last minute). You may say that the Metro Hotel and “American Amusements, Ltd.” aren’t sorry at all, but I disagree. I think they’re the sorriest sons-of-biscuit-eaters on the planet.
Cpl. Stringer’s mama said it best. The Times quoted her as saying:
“In America, they treat soldiers as heroes. We went to Disney World with Tomos and the whole family was moved to the front of the lines. Everybody was standing up and clapping and cheering. Here, soldiers can’t even get a bed for the night.”
It wasn’t always that way, Mrs. Stringer. Forty years ago, when America was entangled “policing” Vietnam, returning Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines were spat upon and called “baby killers” in public. Our veterans learned quickly to shed their uniform and grow out their hair ASAP. It was horrific and shameful what our ungrateful citizens did to the young men (many of whom had absolutely no choice when it came to serving in the still-drafting Vietnam-era military) who had been shot at almost daily, only to come home to be stabbed in the heart by the folks back home. A lot of heroes never got over that. Thank God I was too young to encounter that or to be aware of what was going on if I had seen it–I’d still be serving time for what I would have done to anyone who had tried such a stunt in my presence.
America, I’m glad we’ve learned our lesson about separating the soldiers from the politicians who insist on running our military operations into the ground.
Brits who have backed up Cpl. Stringer, I salute you. Should God grant me the grace to visit your fine country as I have always dreamed of doing, I publicly promise never to patronize the Metro Hotel in Woking, Surrey or any other property owned by “American Amusements, Ltd.”
Cpl. Stringer, if you should ever find your way to Texas, look me up. Hubby and I are both veterans, as are our fathers, as are various and sundry ancestors dating back to Colonial days (on my side) and to Cortez’s expedition (on Hubby’s). We’ll show you a Texas good time!
Oh, yeah, bring your mama, too! She rocks!!!
PS: Hotel and business review websites have been ablaze with scathing reviews for “American Amusements, Ltd.”‘s properties. The best was on a site called bview by the intrepid “Sleaze pit” who writes:
Pros They have them in almost every room
Cons No beds for our country’s hero’s (sic)
Also, if you want to express your outrage directly, here are the email addresses for (in order) the CEO, the Chairman, and the Recruitment head for “American Amusements, Ltd.,” courtesy of DVD Reviewer.