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Baby Boomer dreaming, the old days
By Ray Hanania
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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 honking 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. He writes for the Southwest News-Herald Des Plaines Valley News, and Palos Regional/Reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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