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On the Light Side

April 5, 1988

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ In laid-back California, a little levity has been a hallmark at PSA. But the commuter airline’s new parent, USAir, is lowering the curtain on one PSA feature: stand-up routines by flight attendants.

For example, on a recent flight from San Jose to Los Angeles, PSA flight attendant Marka McDougall went into her act as the engines revved up.

″Ladies and gentlemen,″ Ms. McDougall said, ″We’d like to welcome you aboard Flight 1733 on our way to Seattle.″

Following a panicky gasp in the cabin, Ms. McDougall added: ″Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were listening.″

Ms. McDougall, who says about 10 percent of her colleagues go for such laughs, was on a roll.

″If you are traveling with infants or small children, or anyone resembling a small child, place your mask on first, then assist the child - providing they’ve been good,″ she said. ″And now, for those of you who have not been in a car since 1962, we’re going to show you how to fasten your seat belts.″

But the managers of Arlington, Va.-based USAir are not amused, and this week is Ms. McDougall’s last as a kidder. USAir is completing a $385 million takeover of PSA.

″Our policy is that we discourage that sort of thing because the information is very serious and should be delivered in that vein,″ said David Shipley, assistant vice president for public relations at USAir.

PSA, which has smiles painted on the noses of its jets, believes that a light touch is helpful, said Sherry Hendry, division vice president for the airline’s in-flight and dining services.

″As long as the safety announcements are done in the right manner, we think a sense of humor is appreciated at a time that is perceived to be a hassle,″ she said.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Ben and Jerry, those irrepressible Vermont ice cream makers, found out that it’s easier to make Coffee Heath Bar Crunch than to make a New York subway station shine.

About a year ago, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, whose Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has become a favorite of the upscale ice cream set, proposed to spruce up and maintain a subway station on Manhattan’s upscale Upper East Side.

Cohen, just down from Vermont, found the station ″really disgusting.″ Many New Yorkers would say it’s better than most.

Cohen and Greenfield offered to spend their New York advertising budget for the year - $200,000 to $250,000 - cleaning, painting and maintaining the station.

The Transit Authority said yes. The Transport Workers Union said no because Cohen and Greenfield wanted to use some non-union workers on the project.

Negotiations dragged on and Ben & Jerry finally set a March 31 deadline. That passed too; the matter went before an independent arbitrator who is expected to rule soon.

So on Monday, Ben & Jerry set up an ice cream wagon and a van at a park across the street from the station, and began doling out free ice cream as a consolation prize for passengers emerging from the filthy subway stop. Cohen and Greenfield were there to promise that they’d keep trying to spruce it up.

Nobody seemed to care about the station, though - not while there was free ice cream to be had.

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