Hotel Valet Service Lost Her Car, Then Billed Her For Parking

When I worked at the now-defunct Phoenix Gazette, one of my editors dreamed of being named the paper’s ombudsman, or more precisely, he dreamed that the paper would create such a position and then appoint him to it.  "Ombudsman" is a Swedish word that translated literally means "bought-and-paid-for shill of management," from all evidence.  In practice, what an ombudsman does is dither over reader complaints and make tiny concessions to give the appearance but certainly not the reality of addressing reader concerns, for the purpose of making management look better to the board of directors, and to give a stamp of objectivity to journalistic bias from a purported neutral party.  It was impressive to me that this fellow wanted the job not for the usual reasons folks wanted to move up at the paper — more lunches with the publisher, more chances to hold confidential conversations with the managing editor about how dumb everyone else was — but because he sincerely wanted to serve readers.

I can understand his motivation when I read a piece like this help column, where the writer actually helped a woman whose car had been lost by her hotel’s valet service, which then billed her for the parking.  That’s a good day’s work.  

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