Monday, June 01, 2020

One of my mother’s favorite declarations was, “Give me the good old days.” I never really took it to heart. Not, that is, until I was “stuck” sitting between two men on a domestic flight. Even with the “convenience” of computers, my husband was seated between two strangers about four rows behind me.

I had taken my free copy of USA Today from the hotel and after reading certain sections, I stashed the sports and business sections in the holder in front of me. The gentleman in the aisle seat asked if I would mind if he looked at the Sports Section. “Take the whole paper,” I offered.

Later, as we approached landing and I began to rub my ear as I felt it piercingly pop, he moaned, “Me, too.” After we finally gained back our hearing, he observed me looking at the ingredients on the granola bar that was in the hotel gift bag from our cousins. Remarking, “They’re good, I’ve had them,” he went on to say, “I know you’re only reading the label to give you something to do.”

Continuing in conversation, the man proclaimed, “I haven’t read the Sports Section in four months.” I was kind of curious, as he continued, “I usually just watch it on ESPN or look at it on my phone, but that doesn’t give the full box scores.” With that, I went into a rant about modern technology and how the computers are always down, especially at the bank.

When I interjected that my mother always said, “Give me the good old days,” and then commented that I finally feel that I’m at the age when I can use that same expression, he chuckled. When I added that now I know what my mother was talking about, he concurred.

Just the night before we headed home from North Carolina, my husband and I waited 40 minutes for our seats at a restaurant…computer glitch. I walked in as we were seated and saw empty table after empty table. I asked the person seating us why we had to wait when the restaurant had so many tables available. His irritating response, “The computers were down.”

It’s true, with all the hassles of the electronics we rely on, and example after example of all the flaws in the system, it had me lament, “Give me the good old days.” It had my flight mate chuckle.

With that, we shared a laugh again when the flight attendant asked for our drink orders. I recently read that flight attendants don’t like to be asked for mixes, but I can’t drink the sweet soft drinks unless they’re watered down. When I asked for cranberry juice mixed with seltzer, the older woman replied, “We have Cranapple juice [emphasizing the ‘apple’] and club soda.”

I agreed that the Cranapple was fine but if they had no seltzer, then I would prefer water over club soda. After more back and forth, she handed me a cup with ice and a little water, and a can of juice, and said, “I’ll let you mix your own.” That’s just what I wanted to do… “Give me the good old days,” I thought to myself.

Upon landing, the like-minded stranger in the aisle seat offered to take down any baggage I may have stowed in the overhead bins. I told him I only had the bag under the seat and, anyway, my husband was a few rows behind. He reacted, “I didn’t know your husband was on the flight, you should have told me—I would have changed seats and let him sit next to you here.” I pouted and then smirked, “Now you tell me?” He smiled as he kindly said, “You should have asked.” With that we shared another laugh.

Seriously, though, after numerous, “Ain’t no way” responses over the past few years since they started flying only totally booked flights, there was no way I would expect some tall man in an aisle seat to be willing to exchange his prime spot for a middle seat. I should have realized, it would have been better than our row positioned next to the lavatory.

C’est la vie. What would my mother say about “Shoes off, electronics out of your carry-on and all seats occupied?” I must remember when traveling…and always, this is not “the good old days”…minus the like-minded man in the aisle seat.

By Sharon Mark Cohen

Sharon Mark Cohen is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Link.