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Deplaning with Grace
Ever wonder why after spending several hours on a plane, passengers leap to their feet and rush to the plane's center aisle as the plane taxis up to the gate? I call it the "stampede to a standstill". Like any stampede, it can be quite perilous - like when overhead bins are opened and luggage flies out. I'm convinced the most dangerous time during a flight is not when we're flying at all - it's when everyone is waiting to get off the plane, burdened by luggage and impatience.
But even then, I'm amazed by the small acts of kindness I've seen: taller passengers helping others maneuver bags from overhead bins; someone calling out to a departing traveler that his umbrella or coat has been left behind. I'm not saying I look forward to this crush of bodies and luggage that occurs when we deplane, just that we can make the trip more pleasant for everyone by showing patience and humanity, and overlooking those unexpected bruises in the center aisle.
Eden Prairie, MN
Adventures with Mother
Between the two of us, I think my brother and I have been escorted by our enthusiastic mother to every national park, historic site, burial mound, battlefield, and birthplace-of-somebody-important within 400 miles of any place we've ever lived (and given that my father was in the Navy, that was quite a few places). Our trips weren't just light-hearted diversions. Mother saw them as educational opportunities. Not long after we'd moved to Rhode Island, she suggested we try to find a recommended ice cream shop near Warwick. The Creamery's sign was the shape and color of a roadside historical marker. As we approached, my then 5-year-old brother's happy face suddenly fell. "What's wrong?" my mother asked. In a weary voice, my brother pointed to the sign and replied, "Oh, Mother, does this have to be educational?"
Another memorable family vacation was a "Great Cities of Europe" package trip in 1973 when my brother was 6 and I was 12. Two weeks of trudging through museums, historic sites, castles and churches had taken its toll on us kids, and by the time we arrived at the Louvre in Paris, we were exhuausted.
While studying some Crusades-era armor, Mother was suddenly startled by a shrieking alarm. The mammoth doors of the gallery began swinging shut, as armed guards descended on the room from every direction. It was at that moment that Mother spotted a guard gently trying to awaken her weary daughter -- who had fallen asleep with her head resting on the glass case surrounding Charlemange's crown.