Serious reminders can come in humorous places

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 5/5/21

Throughout the short years of my little life, I’ve been hooked on reading.

There are lots of reasons.

Innate personality, for one. We can’t change how we’re created and birthed.

And …

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Serious reminders can come in humorous places

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Throughout the short years of my little life, I’ve been hooked on reading.

There are lots of reasons.

Innate personality, for one. We can’t change how we’re created and birthed.

And the fact I’m not especially athletic and wasn’t going to have my 15 minutes of fame throwing a fastball or returning punts for touchdowns is another. (I did get athlete’s foot one time but I don’t think that counts.)

Then there’s the way it was at my house while growing up — Mama and Daddy had books and newspapers and magazines everywhere. As a little guy, I had a subscription to “Boy’s Life” and “My Weekly Reader.” There was always a set of encyclopedias around (not to be confused with Wikipedia, which, of course, didn’t exist). And it was just understood that our folks expected their three boys to read, pay attention and pursue some sort of education beyond high school — not that such a thing makes you any “better” than anyone else but that it may make you a “better” you.

Simply put, I fell in love with ink and paper very early. That’s why I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it with an electronic book and why much of my working career was spent in print journalism.

I say all that to say there are many, many things to be read. And from many of them there are both tidbits and large amounts of information to be gathered. Whether those bits are worthy of retention and how we use them may be another thing, but at least they’re there.

It was with that understanding that some time ago I came across a reminder of today’s society in, of all places, the Sunday comics.

I have a few “must read” comics — “Pearls Before Swine,” “Funky Winkerbean,” “Hi & Lois” and “Blondie” among them. Few of the rest are “funny.” Many have a political agenda and that’s not a new phenomenon.

But life goes on and today I find I’m not against learning something from the comics or being reminded of something already known. This particular reminder came in a Sunday color strip of Hi & Lois.

The father, Hi, was on his way to the airport for a flight and was remembering the flights of his younger days, thinking back to the comfortable seats with plenty of leg room, really good meals as part of the ticket price and a host of other perks now living with the dinosaurs.

I’m pretty sure it won’t bother me if I don’t take any more flights, but the last one I remember provided me a seat with all the charm of the back row of a sardine can. The Coke was an extra charge. The attendants were not happy; can’t say I blame them, given their working conditions.

On top of that, the surly inspector at the gate kept my unopened bottle of shampoo as a terrorist threat. And, interestingly enough, on the return flight, a similar bottle came through unscathed. Go figure; where’s the consistency with air travel safety?

I remember vividly the first “real” flight I made, other than a puddle jumper from Asheville to Raleigh-Durham: a Sunday trip to Chicago for a conference. My better half took me to the airport. Walked with me to the gate, she and the first of our two little ones.

I got into my seat. The attendant showed up with a cup of coffee; the conversation was pleasant. As soon as we climbed to 30,000 feet and the seat belt light went off, the captain spoke about the standard things and then issued an invitation that will never ever absolutely ever never again be offered, given society’s rush today into something else.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “it is a positively gorgeous morning with clear skies. If any of you would like to come forward to the cockpit for a look at what we see, please speak to one of the attendants to arrange that.”

I did ... and I did.

It was some sight.

So, where did that freedom and civility go? I don’t know but I think I know when. I think it was when we decided any kind of behavior is OK and don’t try to correct someone because it might offend them.

All I do know is the comic strip had it right. Be on the lookout for both common sense and civility as you fly through life. It could make for a much more comfortable and pleasant trip for you and maybe countless others.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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Randy Smith

Bob,

You are always on a clear target with your writing. As the son of a Baptist preacher growing up in Siler City from the 60s thru the 70s. (Made my move to Alabama in 1977 for college) we relied on WFMY TVs Lee Kinard and the “Good Morning Show”, Shug Edwards news on WNCA and the Chatham News for context as to what was happening in our little part of paradise. Best news was when Channel 2 and WNCA reported that Chatham County Schools would be closed due to ice and snow conditions. Clearly things have changed since my fond memories of hometown Siler City. I chose the path of media which has taken me to several fairly large markets including Miami. As an out of town subscription patron , I get to keep up. One of my favorite places to head early Thursday morning is to your column. Yeah, Momma and Daddy stuff about growing up where we did might sound corny to some but, not to me. The values we were taught and the knowledge of appreciating this is pretty awesome. Thanks Bob for being a great writer and doing that Pastor thing again too!

Randy Smith

Miami, Florida

Wednesday, May 5