Al Batt: With a good book, crammed planes aren’t so bad

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

You’re eating a hotdog!

I am.

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Who eats a hot dog for breakfast?

People who like hot dogs.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: The size of a lawn has no bearing on a man’s need for a riding mower.

The cafe chronicles

There was a quorum at the table of infinite knowledge.

Each guy made one groan when he sat down and a moan when he arose. One was celebrating making it to age 70 without really trying.

“Isn’t that snow pretty?” I said in a successful attempt at agitating the troops.

The friendly waitress said, “Before you ask, we are all out of ‘What do you have?’”

Airport activities

He didn’t know where he was going or where he’d been. It didn’t matter. He hurried. A hypnotic haste. He was beside himself — a regular condition in big airports.

All my brain cells were asleep or MIA. It was 6:00, I wasn’t sure whether it was a.m. or p.m.

I found my seat on the plane. There was someone in it. He’d left the middle seat for me. I don’t like middle seats. Nobody does. A middle seat has never done anything to me, but it demands the defense of two borders.

He probably knew he was in the wrong seat. Maybe not. He gave an “Oops! I tried” smile and moved. I wanted to dislike him, but I’ve made similar mistakes. I couldn’t put a flaming bag of cow poop outside his door. I decided to ignore him.

Good neighbors can be hard to find. I recall sitting on a beach when a guy turned the volume of the seashell pressed to his ear up much too high.

I was determined to shun the fellow who’d attempted to swipe my seat until he began reading a Kurt Vonnegut book — “Hocus Pocus.”

I like Vonnegut. Suddenly, I liked my neighbor. He was born to read, forced to work.

I’m a child of libraries. I’m like The New Yorker column by Dorothy Parker — The Constant Reader. I read some books electronically. I like paper better. The tactile sensation delights. I enjoy seeing others reading books. A book tells a bit about a person, like a bumper sticker.

I was crammed into an airline seat that didn’t fit me. There was coughing to the left of me and sneezing to the right. But I was OK. I had a book.

Playing catch with memories

I threw a ball against the wall, playing catch with someone not there. I grew up alongside a gravel road. It wasn’t well traveled. When a car drove by that my father didn’t recognize, he’d ask, “Who in the world was that?” Dad said things like, “Never anger a cook,” and “Nothing good happens after midnight.” His greatest and most often given advice was, “No!”

Drive long and prosper

My GPS led me beside Stillwater. I drove through Minnesota and Iowa. Both states are open 24 hours a day. If I’d driven to the Rio Grande Valley, by the time I’d reached the Texas border, I’d have been halfway there.

I found myself in the part of Dallas where the traffic was energetic and endless. That part is called Dallas.

I saw a driver wearing a cowboy hat big enough to fill most of the car’s front seat. It’s not against the law to Tex while driving in the Lone Star State.

A car failed to dim its lights. I wasn’t upset. I accept the faults of others whenever I’m able to see them over my gigantic pile of shortcomings.

Customer comments

John Johnson of Rochester was named after his grandfather. His parents told him that he got it because they already owned the name and it was all they could afford.

Donna Fostveidt of Waseca said her parents received baby chicks by mail. It was about the only time the mailman drove up their long driveway. The chicks were warmed in the cookstove oven. She added that by the time those spring roosters became fat enough to eat, they’d been named and it was a sin to slaughter them. I recall receiving cardboard boxes filled with holes and baby chicks from the rural carrier and at the post office.

We’d put the chicks in a brooder house warmed by a heat lamp. Pecking and peeping, the chicks were precious. The brooder house was toasty, often warmer than my insulation-free bedroom.

Meeting adjourned

Things to do today. Be kind. Be kinder.