Decency Isn’t His Priority

, , , , | Friendly | May 24, 2020

I work a lot of conventions around the country, which means a lot of airport trips. I’m disabled, though I know how to handle airports by this point. I’m at my gate, ready for them to announce pre-boarding. They call for those with priority boarding: people with small children, active military, and people with disabilities. I start to get up to head towards the gate.

Passenger: “You aren’t priority! Wait your turn!”

I’m used to premature judgment, so I ignore him and use my cane to get in line. Instead of leaving me alone, he comes over and gets in my face.

Passenger: “I SAID, WAIT YOUR TURN! IF I CAN’T GET ON YET, YOU CAN’T, EITHER!”

I’m a little freaked out at this point. The man is obviously taller and stronger than me. A flight attendant rushes over.

Attendant: “Sir! I need you to back off!”

Passenger: “Tell this b**** to sit down! She ain’t priority!”

Attendant: “We will determine that. You need to sit down, sir.”

He takes a step back but refuses to go further.

Passenger: “If she can board early, I get to get on early, too! Ain’t no way she’s disabled!”

Attendant: “Ma’am, can I see your boarding pass?”

I hand it over.

Attendant: “All right, it shows that you did request priority boarding due to mobility disability. And you are obviously using a mobility aid.”

Passenger: “SHE’S LYING!”

He tries to rip my pass out of the attendant’s hand. Luckily, she steps out of the way.

Attendant: “I’m going to be calling security now. Ma’am, I’ll make sure you get on the plane with no problems.”

She walked me to a coworker and then called airport security. I boarded before seeing them arrive but did not see the man board the plane afterward. Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with anything like that since.

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Yes. Yes, You Can.

, , , , , | Friendly | May 23, 2020

It’s the summer of 1993 and my mother and I are on a cruise on [Now-Defunct Cruise Line]. Mom is in one of the theaters enjoying one of those Vegas-type shows, and I’m wandering around the various decks, just checking things out, looking for my own entertainment.

I notice that one of the many bars has karaoke, and since I enjoy singing — and some folks tell me I’m pretty good at it — I decide, what the hey? It’s a small but nice place, with few people, so I’m not too intimidated. I usually am when performing for crowds, but I figure I don’t know any of these people, so why should I care?

I choose a song by Anne Murray, “Could I Have This Dance?” since it’s in my range and I’m comfortable with it. The bar pipes the current singer and music outside so people walking by can hear it, and the whole wall facing the deck is faintly-tinted glass.

About a minute or so into the song, I notice an elderly couple walk past, stop, listen, and begin slow-dancing together, smiling. This encourages me and warms my heart, and I focus on them for the rest of the song.

When I’m done, I leave the bar to greet them and thank them for the confidence boost. They, in turn, thank me for my performance. They are celebrating their anniversary, and that song was their first dance.

I don’t remember much else about that cruise, but that’s one memory I’ll treasure forever.

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Theater Lovers, Avert Your Eyes!

, , , , , , , | Friendly | May 22, 2020

Some years ago, a friend and I had tickets to see The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway. We went with one of those bus tours and got to the theater early so we could take our seats and be comfortable.  

And then two things happened.

Incident one:

About ten minutes from the opening curtain, two gentlemen came to our aisle and began to argue with the women sitting next to us in the aisle. The women were in their seats and the men wanted them to get out. They debated the point — all of them leaning over us and getting tenser and more irritable as the debate went on — for several minutes until an usher was called over.

The usher looked at the men’s tickets and said, “You are correct. Those would be your seats… if you were coming to see The Scarlet Pimpernel. Unfortunately, your tickets are for The Lion King which is at the New Amsterdam theater.”

The men argued a few more seconds and then finally took off running. My friend and I and the ladies beside us couldn’t help but wonder out loud how you can see the name “Minskoff” and read “New Amsterdam” or read the name of the musical and mistake it for another.

We all settled back in. A loud buzz of voices started up behind us. Everyone in the theater looked back to the balconies where a large group of high school students was taking their seats. No problem. Schools bring kids to the theater all the time. They usually quiet down as soon as the play starts.

Not these kids.

The theater probably did themselves a disservice when they announced that “This performance has been selected to be taped for airing on PBS later this year. We ask the audience to please be on their best behavior.”

Almost immediately, the kids in the balcony started shouting random words and screaming at each other, and their teachers did nothing to stop them.

As the play began, it was almost impossible to hear the actors’ words or enjoy the music as the kids in the back continued to sing loudly — other songs, not the songs in the play — and shout out suggestions to the actors during quiet periods.

At one point in the performance, the characters gathered to quietly plan a coup and, even though we were sitting in the ninth row, we could not hear a word they said. Suddenly, at that point, the cast all stood up from their positions, went to the front of the stage, and said “SSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” The audience joined in and we all waited until the kids were silent before the play resumed.

I took a quick look back at the balcony: two ushers were up there speaking with the teachers. Before the act was over, the balcony had been cleared and the rest of the play took place without incident.

I am sure the kids were screaming in hopes of seeing the play on TV and hearing themselves ruining the experience for everyone else. I have to wonder what kind of pea-brained little snot thinks that’s an appropriate thing to do. More to the point, I wonder why the teachers didn’t think it was their responsibility to shut the class up.

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Like Riding A Bike, You Never Forget… Your Kid

, , , , | Friendly | May 22, 2020

This happened when I was about thirteen, long before mobile phones were around. 

My parents were members of a motorcycle club affiliated with the military base where my dad worked. The base encouraged active-duty personnel to join the club in order to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths which tend to happen frequently when young service members get their hands on a motorcycle.

One of the ways the club did this was by organizing fun events, such as poker runs or weekend camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about two hours’ drive east of the base. 

The club had spent the holiday weekend at a National Park high in the Sierras, and the twenty or so motorcycles and two cars were heading back to the base. Once we finally hit a freeway, the club stopped at a highway rest area for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs a bit. I’d been riding as a passenger behind my dad, the club president, all the way down the mountains. When we stopped, I wandered around a bit until the line in the men’s room went away and then used the restroom myself.

I finished up, washed my hands, and walked back out to the parking area to find that the club had left without me.

I was ever-so-slightly freaked out — not quite in tears, but completely panic-stricken. A man and woman who rode bikes — but were not in any way affiliated with the club — saw me freaking out and managed to get a coherent explanation from me. I asked if they had a CB radio, because several club members had radios on their bikes and so did both chase cars. They did not have a CB, and there weren’t any eighteen-wheelers at the rest area at the time.

I was just about ready to try calling the police, but the two bikers said we’d probably be able to catch the club before they got too far ahead. I knew which way the club would be going — we’d used the same route every time we went camping — and most of the club members were wearing identical windbreakers with a distinctive color, which I was also wearing.

I still had my helmet, so I rode behind the woman while the man tore off down the freeway at a significant fraction of light speed. The woman followed at a much slower speed. We ended up riding for about thirty miles when I saw my dad on his bike and the male biker who was helping me running flat-out on the other side of the freeway, heading back toward the rest area.

I pointed them out to the woman rider, and she pulled off onto the shoulder to wait for them. My dad and the woman’s partner arrived a couple of minutes later. I thanked both of them profusely, and so did my dad, and we waved goodbye as they left. Dad drove us back to the base to catch up to the rest of the club, where I found out why I’d been left behind.

When I didn’t show up at my dad’s bike, he assumed I’d chosen to ride in one of the chase cars for the rest of the trip. Since I’d been riding with my dad before the rest area stop, the people in the chase cars assumed I was still doing that. It wasn’t until the other biker caught up to the club and flagged them down that anyone realized I was missing.

Because I was a fairly typical teenage male and more than a little freaked out at being abandoned, I’m now ashamed to say I never got the names of the two bikers who’d helped me. They’d gone considerably out of their way to help a freaked-out thirteen-year-old stranger. I can only hope they earned plenty of good karma for their trouble.

My parents were never allowed to live down the fact that they’d abandoned their oldest child at a California rest area, and the club imposed a new rule requiring the Road Captain — the rider in charge of the group when we were on the road, selecting the routes and deciding when and where to stop for gas or food, etc. — to double-verify everyone was accounted for before the club got on the road.

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Passing The Dog’s Kiss Test

, , , , | Friendly | May 21, 2020

My great-grandparents lived in a rural area and my great-grandfather worked mostly night shifts in the port, so they had a large guard dog to protect home and family. When the dog heard a disturbance at night, he would lay his massive head on the bed to alert my great-grandmother. She would listen and if it was her husband, she would indicate that all was okay.

During the day, however, the dog would put his paws on the shoulders of whoever tried to enter the home, and people were only allowed in if my great-grandmother kissed them.

My great-grandmother helped start up the local chapter of the equivalent to the WI or farmers’ wives or something similar. That meant she had to deal a whole lot with the local pastor… who also had to get his kiss each time he visited.

The story doesn’t tell whether he liked it.

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