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Baby Boomer dreaming, the old days
By Ray Hanania
As I sat at Midway Airport the other day waiting for a flight, I was remembering how the world has really changed, as most Baby Boomers my age do.
I’ve written in the past how Midway was just an open air field on Cicero Avenue and my friend Mike Tarsa and I would fire Estes rockets across Cicero Avenue at the airport.
There were no planes, and no terrorism, really, so it didn’t matter. The Air Traffic Controllers, who lazily sat in the old tower, were intrigued and even helped us retrieve the rockets when they landed.
But the changes from the early 1970s to today have to do more with society than the expansion of the airport itself. For its compact size, Midway Airport is phenomenally efficient.
I’ve even changed my mind about Southwest Airlines, which I criticized many months backs because of their confused boarding process. I tried Spirit Airlines and realized immediately how much better AND cheaper Southwest Airlines really is. Hey, the airlines can’t be perfect I guess. Just take off and land without any problems.
It was the air commuters at Midway and later at Reagan National that intrigued me.
Years ago when the cell phone first arrived in a large shoulder strapped bag, the priority at the airport was to find an electrical outlet.
Today, the new airport designs have electrical outlet stations all over the place, against every wall, with stand alone computer desks right at the gate. It’s not easy to get one, though, considering every passenger has about three electrical items that need to be charged from iPhones, computers to iPods.
People were circling like hawks looking for baby rabbits, waiting for an outlet to peek out from under the tall grass.
Even seniors had headphones on, listening to who knows what on their old iPods and even a few with iPads.
Southwest offered WiFi onboard the two-hour flight for $8. No food, though, besides a tiny bag of peanuts and a plastic cup for my Diet Coke. I spend the whole flight trying to get the WiFi to work so I could watch a movie on HBO GO, a subscription service tied to my expensive monthly Comcast Cable TV service at my home.
Convenience has a high price, people.
When I got home, I got back into my routine of driving my son the three blocks to his school. I don’t waste my time telling him I walked a mile and a half to and from school four times every day – we used to come home to watch Bozo’s Circus at Lunch time at home, back when schools gave kids one long lunches.
Today, the world is filled with serial killers, and 15 minute lunches, and lawsuits that blame everyone but the parents when a kid goes wrong.
As I drive him to school, I see the 10 kids waiting for the yellow school bus to pick them up. They’re not talking. Nearly every one of them, and all ages, are looking down at a cell phone texting their friends, with ear phones.
They’re not talking to each other.
People get really upset when we talk about Gay Marriage. Wait until the kids start to marry their machines.
So I bring the puppy and I spend the entire ride talking to my son. It’s only 10 minutes, because I purposely drive under the 20 MPH speed limit, like an “Old Man,” of course. Cars beeping behind me, or speeding around me. Where are the speed cameras when you need them?
But it’s a lot more fun than talking to a computer.
(Ray Hanania is a former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at [email protected])
This post has already been read 1385 times!
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992).
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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