Walking down the platform this afternoon, before catching my train, I caught a glimpse through an open doorway, of the rarefied and exclusive atmosphere of the first class lounge. It’s not somewhere that you’re ever likely to find me hanging out – most of my lounging whilst waiting for trains is done on hard, usually damp, wooden seats out in the cold, and when I do board you’ll find me heading in the opposite direction to the leather upholstery and complementry snacks, towards the more bohemian preserves of cattle class. The same is true of flying. Never once for me the exclusive smugness of turning left on boarding; instead you’ll find me slumming it with the rest of the duty free and tacky souvenir brigade at the tail end of the plane.
It’s not just a case of social standing or the expense of living the first class lifestyle that prevents me from indulging, and – like I imagine most of us who are not in the position where we can avail ourselves of such luxury – have felt the urge to just have a taste of it, if only once in a lifetime.
Although, such things are relative. I have indeed had the pleasure of travelling first class by rail, and what an experience it was – albeit not quite what you may be expecting. The rail operator in question was ONCF, and the journey itself was between Nador and Fes, Morocco, via Taourirt. I guess there was a certain magic and romance about such a trip, and I succumbed to the allure of opting for a first class ticket, mainly due to the fact that it would cost me a whole £4 more than travelling hobo class, which seemed a remarkably good deal at the time. Getting a ticket at all was something of a challenge, since I spoke no Arabic, and the lovely lady in the ticket office, spoke no English, Spanish or French, all of which I’d been assured would serve me well in the wilds of Northern Africa – absolute nonsense, of course.
Let’s just say ONCF rural first class, is not exactly salubrious. There are no complementary snacks, drinks, newspapers, leather seats, air conditioning, ventilation, tables or – for that matter – any of the uncomplementary versions of same. Neither, as I discovered to my cost, are there toilets you would wish to even attempt to use, locks on those toilet doors, which was unsurprising since there were also no locks, or any other means of securing the carriage doors to prevent one from plummeting from the moving train in the middle of the vast Saharan expanse of nothingness. Neither were there any other passengers availing themselves of this first class luxury – they having elected to enjoy the rather more convivial delights of standard class, where they were assured companionship, victuals and possibly even working toilets. Sadly, I was unable to join them during the first non-stop, six hours of the journey, due to the separating door being the only one that was actually sealed shut. The second leg from Taourirt was even more fun, crammed into a heaving carriage in 30 degree heat with 17 Omid Djalili lookalikes, whose only languages were Arabic and bemusement, and not a clue where, who, or why I was!
That however is not a factor in influencing my reticence to indulge in first class, rather it is that I really see no point in throwing away money for something that, I grant you, may be a little bit special, but is – in my opinion – vastly overrated, vastly overhyped and ridiculously overpriced. How can anyone accept that a little bit more legroom, a little bit more comfort, a decent meal and a bottle of bubbly could possibly justify inflating the cost of a journey by somewhere in the region of 450% or more? It always consoles me to know that those in first class are watching the same movies as me, breathing the same stale air and will probably be the first to hit the ground if we crash… Best of all, they are paying through the nose to be my crashmat!
I’m afraid I apply the same logic to SL – I’ve been inworld 10 years now, and never once have I considered it necessary to become a premium member. Yes, I know there are some bonuses to be had, and there are those who will argue until the cows come home that it’s a good deal that more than pays for itself, but I really can’t justify the additional expense. I have everything I could possibly want in SL without spending extra cash for the luxury of ‘exclusive’ experiences and sandboxes, tacky Linden Homes, rubbish gifts, and I’ve never been desperate to get into a crowded sim so much that I’m willing to pay for the privilege of being allowed in over the limit. Those to me are not ‘Premium’ benefits, they are just extras that I’m being asked to pay for, and I don’t particularly want those extras, neither do I think they offer value for my money.
And that’s the bottom line, for first class or premium to entice me into its charms, it needs to offer something above and beyond just a bit extra, and it has to give me something that I value – without either, it’s simply something that I consider superfluous to requirements and not worth investing in.
And, what’s wrong with second class anyway?
You asked for some advice
And a sad man calls you a fool
He said “too many times you missed the sun
Who swaps with the moon”
Twisted Wheel – Let Them Have It All