Fred and I just returned from a short vacation. We still had credit with the airlines from our canceled trip last year this time. So, naturally, it was our duty to use those tickets. Right?
It was intriguing to notice the differences since our last major trip.
First, the masks. Who would ever have thought? The whole world looks like either the Lone Ranger or characters in “Star Wars.” Oh, and don’t forget that horrible Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs?” I never could watch that movie.
Since we all are tired of masks, but know we must wear them, we try to cheat; you know, pull them down under our nostrils. But there are spies and enforcers on the prowl everywhere. The TSA guys remind you to pull your masks up over your nose, and the Flight Attendants do the same. Fred was corrected for exposing his nostrils. Is that what they call “Flashing”? No one gets by with pushing the mask down under the nostrils. He forgot and he got caught. I smiled.
It’s an uncanny feeling to me yet, wearing a mask, seeing masks around us everywhere, and being watched. Please note. I get it. I am not criticizing the need for us to be able to move from place to place safely. But watching this from a “bird’s eye-view” can be quite foreboding.
We hear continually on the intercom at the airports. “Listen you boogers. Federal law mandates wearing a mask. Failure to comply may result in your removal, denial of entry, or facing the firing squad on the old “Braniff” tarmac.” Warnings, warnings, all the time. Remember the days when we listened to peaceful airport music instead? More differences; tickets on our phones. I know that’s old hat to many of you but I still remember the time 35 years ago when my mother was on the plane, ready to go, and realized she had forgotten her tickets at home, and she had to get off the plane. No way would that happen today. Today, one must be identified, numbered, questioned, and X-rayed before entering the plane.
Proceeding through the gate to get to board, every passenger scanned his or her own ticket. The attendant at the entrance does not touch those many tickets. Had to be a COVID policy, but new to us.
Snacks on the plane. Not much. But we passengers still wait like little birds strapped in the nests for the mama bird to drop the worm. It keeps us busy. Bottles of water, a bag of chips, and a snack bar look like gold when we are encapsulated in a seat 35,000 feet above the earth.
Our hotel. There were no maids to make the bed, bring towels, etc. They have either cut back or been eliminated. If we needed more coffee cups or coffee pods, towels, or shampoo, then we proceeded to search for the source. By the time we checked out, our trash cans were overflowing, our towels were piled in the tub, and we were out of cups. Will the old system will ever return?
There was no clock on the bedside table; no pad of paper and pen either. The phone was nothing more than an unnoticed paper weight. The universally used cell phone does it all.
We needed maps to find our way around the community that we were visiting. Imagine our finding out that maps were no longer available. We were staying in a community where much of the transportation was via golf carts. There are miles and miles of trails for the golf carts to travel from one neighborhood to another. We had the use of a large map in the past. Now, no maps covering a larger area. We needed to download an app to download those guiding maps.
One last big difference. People do not look at each other nor do they acknowledge one another when they are masked. There is no personal inter-relating. Whether on the plane, or in the hotel this is the pattern. Unmasked, outside on the patio, or in a restaurant sitting across from strangers, everyone visits back and forth. But the masks keep us from enjoying the critical need for social ability so vital to most everything we do.
I hope we don’t forget how it was, and how it needs to be, again.
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.