What are super-cautious tourists to do? For some, even selecting hotel rooms is daunting. Historically, many guests have opted for rooms on lower floors, in case of fire.

Now, some of the same people, reading about inner city crane accidents on both coasts, are, uh, thinking higher.

One hotel desk clerk—sure he had heard every possible question—fielded a new one from a New York City visitor who had tip-toed into the city. She said she would check in AFTER he determined the height of the tallest crane at a construction site nearby. He made a phone call that yielded the answer: 310 feet. “I want a room on any floor that’s at least 320 feet above the pavement,” the tourist demanded…

New York City, the bull’s-eye for tourism in the USA, isn’t feeling the pinch of a drab economy. Even gasoline pumps—one-armed bandits that are public enemy number one—aren’t diminishing the luster of the “Big Apple.”

A tourism pro explained the NYC scenario this way: many Americans who typically flock to Europe in the summer months are staying home because the dollar wilts at international monetary exchange counters. So, they’re staying home, many of them opting for visits to NYC.

Since Euros are bullies in the American marketplace, Europeans are cashing in on good vacation deals in the USA. So, NYC is hanging strong in the summer tourism derby…

What a difference a half-century makes! In the 1950’s, gasoline priced at 15-20 cents per gallon was common, and many service stations passed out trading stamps with each purchase. (Attendants also threw in free windshield cleanings, and checks of radiator, tire pressure and oil levels.)

Such stamps went the way of the dodo bird three decades ago.

Now, automobile dealerships are flooding the ad market with promises of $2.99 gas for three years, or tanks of the precious fuel for new-car buyers. This is probably NOT a good time for trading stamps to make a comeback…

Did you see in the papers where Robbie Knievel—the “Evel” one’s son—was successful in his bid to clear 21 Hummers on his airborne motorcycle jump?

Again, timing is everything. If he’d waited a few years, he might have had a hard time finding 21 Hummers to line up!

Oh, and what about that newspaper headline: One called his feat a “Hum-Dinger.”…

Perhaps everyone is feeling more pressure per square inch in the living of these days.

No one is spared, not even well-known sports personalities. One example is Ron Washington, manager of the Texas Rangers whose job was in peril a short while ago. Dealing with prima donna athletes (some of whom are living, breathing bobble heads) AND media on a daily basis, Washington may soon be linked with Yogi Berra and the late Casey Stengel in the world of fouled-up oral responses.

The other day, he fended off a barbed question with this answer: “Don’t expect me to ‘validify’ that.” Perhaps he meant “validate,” or maybe “verify.” When job pressures squeeze, maybe we’re lucky if managers and coaches get a syllable or two right…

A friend lamented the other day that this would be a terrible time for the meek to inherit the earth.

Citing skyrocketing costs across the board, he claims he’s not sure how long he can survive in what we’ve long called a “free enterprise system.”

He smiled when he spoke of family friends whose last name is “Card.” They named their new-born son “Maxed Out.”

We’re outta here. The wife and I are heading to New York City for a few days, then board Carnival’s Miracle, a renowned cruise vessel. We’re eager to see if the water’s still wet, the Caribbean still blue, and buffets still lavish.

We trust we’ll encounter interesting people and circumstances along the way. If so, we’ll write about them later.

Please notice I didn’t call this time away a “vacation,” and made nary a reference to “well-deserved.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. For more information on his books or speaking, send e-mail to newbury@speakerdoc.com or call 817-447-3872. Visit his Web site at www.speakerdoc.com.