I’m finally on my way home, glad I went to my brother’s wedding and was able to be a part of his special day, but I’m gritty-eyed weary. Flights were delayed, canceled and rescheduled. My sister and I—my travelling partner this trip—spent the night, or more accurately four hours, at a hotel chain, The Red Roof Inn. In its day, it was considered a respectable, clean, family place to stay. But, trust me, that era is long gone, a fact they easily share with flying these days as well. (You can tell when someone is old and waxing nostalgic when the expression “these days” is bandied about.)
When I was young, my father once took our family to the Pittsburgh airport to eat lunch. It was a rare treat, one that required a little bit of driving and planning. But the payoff was a mediocre meal by a big window, watching planes take off and land to the delight of us kids and my aviation enthusiastic dad.
Walking through the concourse to get to the restaurant was also a unique people-watching opportunity. Young men and women draped in robes or Indian style clothing were stationed throughout the airport handing out brochures for their religion or seeking financial contributions, a fact that might elicit a “damn hippies” from my dad or hushed conversations between my parents about so-and-so’s cousin’s son that was brain washed. It’s hard now to even imagine such open and casual proselytizing ever existed. Thankfully, the opportunity to observe the quirky personalities of humanity is still plentiful.
The flight attendant just came by and offered me a beverage. I could have purchased a Fresh Meal for $8 or a CafePlus for $6 or even a Cafesnack for $4.50. But I declined and opted for just my “complimentary” Diet Coke. Back in my day (there it is again), a hot breakfast would have been served. Perhaps two discs of rubbery pancakes with a drizzle of fake maple syrup, a potato cake or plastic-like scrambled eggs and chunks of tasteless fruit. But the food wasn’t the point. There was something about peeling back the foil on the tray and digging in that felt like a treat and welcomed diversion—like a TV dinner in the air.
I even kind of miss stewardesses, although I fully appreciate the overt sexism blindly accepted as the norm, back in th’ day. Okay, maybe a few things have changed for the better.
It’s easy to feel a sense of mourning for the days of flying that are no more and will never be again. I grumble at the excessive government intrusion at the airports. I miss the casual ease and fun of flying. And the reality of what bad people can too easily do, puts an edge on travel I never used to realize I should feel. Fortunately, I don’t fly often and at least this trip, the purpose was worth it. I got to spend time with my sister, dance with my sweet nieces, meet my brother’s delightful wife and have a piece of wedding cake for all my efforts.
But just to prove I can buck the system a bit, I exercised a little rebellion. You know those safety information cards in the pocket of the seat in front of you that you’re not supposed to remove? Let’s just say, I’ll be able to really study the proper protocol for securing my seat cushion and hugging it closely in front of me in the case of a water landing.
Now, don’t even get me started on modern euphemisms like water “landing”…