This, That and Other Stuff


Bob Neuman

As we grow older, we have less choice for our transportation. Many from SunBird spend time at their other home but are not sure of hard driving for three or four days. So that leaves airlines.

Years ago, flights were leisurely and enjoyable and affordable tickets were possible. First thing we did was put on our best clothes, arrive a short time before boarding to sign in and check bags. No one patted us down, waved a wand over us or made us remove our shoes. Chances were the crowd was not wall-to-wall. Boarding meant walking out to the tarmac to board. The seats and leg room were spacious and comfortable. All was a big deal.

It was possibly a four-engine propeller aircraft, maybe a Clipper for the long rides. There were stewardesses with crisp uniforms and little hats who tended to every need. Tolerable food was served at no cost.

Songs like “Flying Down to Rio,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Come Fly with Me” are telling what exciting adventures are ahead.

Things change… not always for the better. No longer do we waltz into the airport and onto the plane. Security is everywhere. We are marched into lines to stroll about in our socks. To think seniors have a hidden knife or gun in his shoe is crazy. We cannot bend over enough to put it in or take it out.

Expect to be poked, prodded and x-rayed as though our sole purpose is to blow up the place. Our luggage is examined, and out perfume and mouthwash are tossed. Need a finger nail file… forget that. While we sit for over two hours, we should pray that the plane arrives not only on time but at all. But eventually it does, and we drag out carry-ons up a ramp and down the foot-wide isle to a seat. We have also prayed for two seat partners who weigh less than 300 pounds.

Looking around, we notice the passengers mostly resemble street people with their flip flops and shorts. We now play Arnold Schwarzenegger and heave the luggage three feet above out heads and hope later we can get it down.

Wedging into the seat is a contortion operation. With hardly any foot room, we realize there are only five ways to wiggle. Our feet, legs and rear soon become numb, and the seat refuses to recline. We are thinking also we would rather wear a Depend than visit the poor man’s john in the tail of the plane.

The attendants (no longer stewardesses) are in blue jeans. One reads all the measures to save our lives. Her monotone resembles someone reading a dictionary.

Finally, we are smashed into the back of our seats as the mighty plane roars down the runway and claws for altitude, stopping up our ears. A mother with two very small children is amused at one kicking the back of my seat and the other giving an ear-splitting Tarzan yell… which will last through the three-hour flight. Nevertheless, off we go into the wild, blue yonder. Who ever said flying wasn’t fun? Maybe me?