In the classic 1967 Western "El Dorado," old John Wayne tries to
teach young James Caan how to shoot. They're in the desert,
surrounded by towering saguaro cacti, and Wayne dismounts for a
demonstration. He draws and fires his six-shooter into a cactus
that looks taller and older than Duke. Then Caan tries. He shoots.
He misses the cactus.
Today's audience, conditioned by 33 years of environmental
awareness, breathes a sigh of relief that the cactus was spared
another bullet, but in 1967, as in the Old West, it was just a
We're more careful about everything now. We gasp in horror at
old movies where people smoke at the dinner table with their kids,
drive around without seat belts, spend a day at the beach without
gallons of sunscreen or use endangered species for target
Those days are gone. And gone, too, are the days of unprotected
travel, when travel agents could simply deliver the tickets and
say, "Have a nice trip."
It's not even enough to check for State Department travel
advisories; you have to download even the mildest notice about dust
storms in the Sahara lest a litigious client returns to sue you for
the cost of a scarf and goggles. It's not enough to ask the airline
if this is the "lowest fare"; you have to launch the low-fare
search in the CRS and keep it running for three days while you
click over to the Web and search again, and again and again, lest
the client waves an e-mail in your face about something that's $20
lower. It's not enough to offer trip insurance; you have to get the
clients to sign a statement that they rejected the offer and to
initial another statement that they signed the statement rejecting
the offer. You need to know as much about the client's food
allergies as the client. You not only need a bookkeeper and a
lawyer, you need a Webmaster, medical consultant and security
Sometimes, don't you just want to shoot the damn cactus?