"Media Travel Service. Can I help you please?"
"Yes, this is Henry Kidney. I'm planning a tour for my political candidate, and I was wondering if you could advise me of some good places where the media would be likely to cover him."
"We have a gastronomic, ethnic food tour which is very popular. You can visit an Italian pizza parlor, a Jewish delicatessen, a Mexican carry-out shop, and wind up eating at a soul food restaurant in the ghetto. It's one of our most popular trips for a political candidate. Your man gets to eat a pizza, a dill pickle, a tamale and red beans, which are included in the price."
"Don't you have a Polish restaurant you can recommend? My guy is very interested in the Polish people ever since they had their strike in Gdansk."
"We do have one, but it's very hard to get a table. Everybody running for political office from the presidential candidates on down wants to be photographed with someone of Polish descent. I may be able to book you into a Polish bar in three weeks."
"What else would you recommend?"
"We have a slum tour which all our clients are crazy about. We arrange for your candidate to walk through 10 blocks of burned-out buildings, talk to a mother on welfare and sit on a stoop with six unemployed youths who have no future."
"How much is it?"
"Five hundred dollars, unless you want us to arrange a demonstration of the people in the neighborhood."
"Wouldn't that be dangerous for my man?"
"Not really. But it will guarantee him getting on TV that night. Cameramen love demonstrations, particularly if water hoses and tear gas are used."
"What about a tour of an automobile factory? Do you arrange those?"
"We have two tours -- one where the employes are working, and the other where the factory is closed and everyone is out of work."
"Which one would you advise?"
"Frankly, the unemployed-worker tour is more popular. Our guides will take your candidate to an auto worker's home and give him an opportunity to eat cornflakes and talk to the entire family. It also gives him a chance to discuss the economy and attack the importing of Japanese cars. The last time we sent a client to that home, he was on Cronkite, Chancellor and Frank Reynolds all in the same night."
"We'll take it. What about my man standing in front of a coal mine, early in the morning, and shaking hands with the people as they go in?"
"I wouldn't recommend it. It's become too much of a picture cliche, and you'll never get your man on the air with it."
"Do you have something that's really different?"
"We have a deluxe tour of a disaster area. If Mount St. Helens erupts again, or a hurricane hits the coast of Texas, we'll take your candidate to the scene in a private jet, give him a tour of the ravaged area, and arrange for him to speak to a man and woman who have just lost their house and all their possessions."
"That sounds like fun. Send me the brochure."
"You also might think of visiting an Indian reservation. For $3,000 we can arrange to have your candidate become an honorary chief of the tribe and participate in a tribal war dance. It's a sure-fire photo for People magazine."
"I must say you have a wide selection."
"By the way, we are also in the Hertz-Rent-a-Baby business. For $35 a day, which includes free diapers, we'll supply a baby for the candidate to hug on any of his stops on the tour."
"Do we have to keep the baby?"
"No, you can drop it off at any Hertz office after your man has finished kissing it, at no extra charge."