You Are NOT Cleared For Landing!

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 11, 2021

Babies on aeroplanes tend to have ear pain during changes in altitude due to pressure changes. Pediatricians suggest feeding them during takeoff and landing as swallowing equalizes the pressure in their ears and stops the pain. I should also note that my son is exclusively breastfed which, while not particularly unusual, is still not the norm in the time when this story takes place.

In the 1990s, I have to fly long distance with my three-month-old son. He dealt with the first long flight with no problem but fussed on takeoff and landing. Our connecting flight is only thirty-five minutes long, so pretty much the entire flight would be changing altitude. I decide to let him nurse for the whole flight to save him any discomfort. 

We get in our seat, with him on my lap with a “baby belt,” and an elderly Southern gentleman sat next to me. As we taxi to the runway, I discreetly lift my shirt and settle my son to feed. We get in the air, and the man strikes up a typical traveler’s conversation about where we are going, luggage problems, our families, etc. It is all fine until we start to descend.

Man: “I hate this; it always makes my ears pop. Do yours?”

Me: “Yes, I have to keep swallowing. It’s not very nice.”

Man: “Your baby is so good; he’s slept through everything.”

Me: “Mmm.”

The man reaches over and gently strokes my son’s head with one finger.

Man: “He reminds me of [His Great-Grandson] with all that hair. He’s precious.”

Me: “Uh, yes…”

I shift my arm to block his hand.

Man: “I can’t believe his ears don’t hurt. I’d have thought it would wake him up.”

Me: “He’s feeding. It helps stop the pain.”

Man: “Oh, do you need to feed him? I can hold him while you get his bottle if you like.”

He reaches over and cups his hand round my son’s head like you would if you were about to hold a baby.

Me: “I am feeding him. Right now.”

Man: “Uh?”

His hand is literally one inch from my nipple.

Me: “I’m breastfeeding him. Right now.”

The poor man snatched his hand back so fast! He was blushing bright red, staring anywhere except at me, and stammering apologies. He was SO embarrassed. I did feel kind of bad, but I thought it was pretty obvious, especially as I’d switched my son from one breast to the other partway through the flight — while discussing flight delays with the man!

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It’s Just Like Riding A Candy, Like Stealing A Bike From A Baby

, , , , | Right | February 11, 2021

Occasionally, I’ll get this nice couple with their almost-three-year-old daughter. She’s a sweetheart but has a habit of grabbing candy behind her parents’ backs and opening them. Her parents always catch her and always pay for it, even if it wasn’t that bad.

Me: “Hi, guys! How are y’all doing today?”

Dad: “Good, thanks. You?”

Me: “Doing pretty all right! Are you getting your usual cigarettes today? I see your little one has a bike!” *To the girl* “Do you like your bike?”

Dad: “Oh, we’re not buying it; she just wouldn’t let us leave it. Actually, can you take it from her?”

I come around and crouch in front of her.

Me: “Hi, [Girl], do you mind if I take your bike?”

She shakes her head and holds onto it.

Dad: “Give her the d*** bike!”

Then, he grabbed the bike and separated his daughter from it, while she started screaming bloody murder. The dad made a gesture like, “Go ahead,” so I wheeled it around the counter and hid it as best I could.

Even going out the door I could hear the little girl screeching. It was a long night after that.

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Goldfishing For Math Skills

, , , , , | Related | February 7, 2021

I was a very precocious kid but didn’t have as much common sense to back it up. I taught myself how to read at two, and by three, I had learned enough math to be able to work the cash register at my grandpa’s small exotic pet store at the flea market. The entire family was required to help out during the weekend, though my “helping” was them indulging a small child until my attention span ran out and I wandered off.

We sold little feeder goldfish, three for $1, and they had always been bought in sets of three whenever I rang them up before. Someone came to the register with just a single tiny goldfish in a bag, leading to several seconds of confusion. Then, I yelled across the store in a slight panic.

Me: “[Grandpa]! How do you do one-third of a penny?!”

The customer and my grandpa both burst out laughing, and Grandpa called back to charge thirty-five cents.

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Toddlers And Feral Cats: A Perfect Pair

, , , , , | Related | February 6, 2021

My first apartment complex had a number of feral cats that would roam the outskirts of the complex since some of the homeowners put out food for them. I was very bored at the time, as I’d just moved to this new area and didn’t know anyone yet, so out of curiosity, I took out some meat one evening to see if a feral cat would come to me to eat.

One little kitten “volunteered” himself by running up to me when he saw me try to feed the other cats, which was already far more outgoing than any of the other ferals.  

He was cautious at first, fleeing from me after taking his meat as the others did. After a number of feedings, I eventually got him to come to me to take the meat out of my hand. Some feedings after that, he would tolerate my right hand briefly touching his head when he grabbed the food out of my left hand. Some feedings after that, he would accept a single stroke of his head to get food. And finally, after a long-fought war, he would willingly allow me to pet him after I finished feeding him.

Eventually, my complex put out cages to catch all the cats, and when my favorite cat was caught, I went to the local shelter and adopted him officially. It took him a few days to get used to being in a house, but he came out of his shell and became a very affectionate cat who loved to be pet. Every night when I got up to go to bed, he would race to my bedroom and take up a spot on the pillows above my head and spend all night curled up with me.

A little while later, I offered to allow some friends to stay at my apartment for the night to save on hotel costs. I warned them that my cat was technically a feral cat, having spent his kittenhood outside with only my intermittent brief visits to feed him for human interaction. Even though he had come to trust me, since I fed him as a kitten, I didn’t know how he would be around other humans. I told them if he was a problem I would lock him in the laundry room for the evening.

When they arrived, their toddler was fascinated by my cat and chased the poor feline all over my small apartment trying to hold him. She was too young to know how to handle cats and so was always trying to pull the poor cat’s tail or pick him up awkwardly. Originally, I was afraid he might lash out at her, but he tolerated her admirably, never once hissing or growling at her no matter what she did.

However, most shocking of all was that, as soon as they managed to get the toddler to go to sleep, my cat went over to her bed and curled up above her head for the night. That was the only night he didn’t sleep with me, having assigned himself to watching over the toddler that had tormented him all evening, instead.

After that, it was clear, despite having grown up outside, that he was always meant to be with people. I’m quite thankful for my random decision to relieve my boredom by seeing whether I could tame a “feral” cat.


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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Going To Have To Ap-plier A New Strategy

, , , , , , | Related | February 4, 2021

When I am about four years old, we have an old TV with knobs to change the channel and the volume, and to turn it on or off. Two of the knobs have fallen off at some point, so we use a pair of needle-nosed pliers in place of the knobs; they can grip the metal piece that used to hold the knob, and thus, we can turn it to get the TV to do what we want.

One day, Dad brings home a new TV to replace the old one. My brother and I are so excited. Dad takes it out of the box and sets it where the old one was, and we get a good look at it. No knobs, broken or intact; this model has buttons and a remote.

Confused, we turn to Dad.

Brother & Me: “Where do we put the pliers?”

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