|Undoing Nuttal's Mistake|
Our beloved Wistaria Vine, also known as the World's Largest Flowering Plant due to its designation as just that in the Guinness Book of World Records, might be beautiful to look at, might be the world's most immense and might be worshipped by thousands of pilgrims every year, people who travel great distances to stand at its roots and express their heartfelt awe.
But apparently our Wistaria Vine is also something of a skinflint. In what was the longest exchange of posts in quite some time on Bill Coburn's once essential but now largely passed over Sierra Madre News.net website, a reader by the delicious name of Jellosoup made the rather unfortunate mistake of asking this following question:
I wish I was there on the 15th ... can anyone tell me how to get a refund on the tickets due to pouring rain on the 20th?
Mr. Coburn was obviously not pleased to read such temerity, and responded with what can only be described as (to use the wrestling parlance) a smack down.
I know that every ticket said in red letters, all caps, "NO REFUNDS, NO EXCHANGES, ALL SALES FINAL". I also know that hundreds of people did get to view the vine that day, even in the rain. I doubt that you will get a refund. If anything, you might get a credit towards a future event. The Board of Directors will be making the final decision what, if any compensation will be given. Call the Chamber and give them your name, ticket number, and contact information. If the Board decides to offer some sort of credit, you'll be contacted.
So much for being the bright and sunny face of Sierra Madre commerce. I have always personally believed that people who are customers should be treated with the height of kindness and concern, especially when expressing their needs. All done with the understanding that next year you'll be wanting them to put their money down and once again return to worship the vine.
Somehow I don't believe that delivering a stern lecture about what it says on the ticket is going to have the desired effect.
Besides, and I am now looking at my Dodger tickets for next Friday's game against the San Francisco Giants (baseball is back!), it says the exact same thing about refunds. There is also a brief blurb about rainouts. Apparently when the Dodgers have to call a game because of the weather (a rarity here in sunny Southern California), they accommodate the needs of their fans. Which is smart business. The Chamber's "Board of Directors" should embrace that wisdom as well. After all, when the streets were opened early and barriers taken down due to the record rainfall, this event was for all intents and purposes called off.
Whoever made that decision needs to recognize they have some debts to honor. The short term effects might be fiscally painful, but in the long view it really is the right thing to do.
Why it is called the "Wistaria" Vine
Now you might know this already, but I was born and raised in New Jersey and there are some gaps in my Sierra Madre knowledge. I have studied hard, but like when I attempted to explain the origins of the name "Michellinda," my parvenu status becomes evident to many. From time to time.
But that said, according to what I've read this morning the spelling of "Wistaria" isn't just some local peccadillo designed to charm happy tourists, but is actually the correct spelling. Making this one of those rare instances where we are right and everyone else is wrong. Something that doesn't happen very often in life, and must be pointed out.
This from the Oxford University Press and their New Dictionary of Eponyms:
The wisteria is a climbing woody vine clustered with drooping, pealike, purplish or white flowers. The name of this vine was given by Thomas Nuttal, curator of Harvard's Botanical Garden, who made an error in spelling the name of the man he planned to honor. That man's name was Wistar. But at the death of the honoree in 1818, the plant was named wisteria. Nuttal wrote in his General North American Plants II, "In memory of Caspar Wistar, M.D., late professor of Anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania." But too late, Nuttal had already named the plant wisteria. Later writers followed the error, thus perpetuating it.
Add to the many virtues of Sierra Madre the fact that we alone among all the cities of this vastly imperfect world properly honor the memory and accomplishments of Dr. Caspar Wistar and the plant named in his honor. It isn't completely "Nuttal" that we do so.