Monday, June 20, 2011

No Longer Included

As I slipped the wooden chopsticks out of their paper sleeve at the Father’s Day lunch yesterday, it occurred to me that something was missing – actually, something I hadn’t seen since my younger days growing up in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.

There was no toothpick included with chopsticks. Good Lord, I thought … now THAT sure ages me. If you remember the days when you’d find a free wooden toothpick in with the chopsticks, then you have got to be at least as old as I am.
It was nice to have a toothpick. When you finished your meal, you had something to clean your teeth with. Kind of like chewing gum, only a little more precise.
And speaking of chewing gum, I remember when you used to get a small little packet of Chicklets gum when you took a plane ride. Those were the days before pressurized cabins, and the gum helped equalize the pressure between your inner ear and the cabin.
It was either that, or swallow hard, or try to pop your ears manually by pinching your nose and blowing. And as we all know by now, that’s a no-no.
Chewing gum is disappearing at airports. It isn’t sold in the airport stores anymore (at least at the airports I’ve flown into). They don’t want them being disposed of onboard in the seat ashtrays. Seat ashtrays? They ain’t got THEM any more since smoking is banned on flights these days.
Guess one would have to wrap the chewed gum in napkins and give it to the flight attendant. They probably don’t want you to chew gum at all because lazy people would just stick ‘em into the seat pocket in front of them.
You can’t find bubble gum where you used to either. Remember baseball cards? Topps wax packs used to include a piece of gum the size of the trading card. Then the gum piece got smaller and smaller, and eventually disappeared altogether.
Chopstick toothpicks, airplane chewing gum, baseball card bubble gum … they’ve gone the way of the free doughnut you used to get when you bought a dozen at the bakery. Do they still honor the “baker’s dozen” tradition anymore?
And how ‘bout the hand car wash you used to get when you’d fill up your tank at a gas station? You’d drive up and a swarm of guys with white shirts and bowties would attack your car. Even in little rustic Hilo where I grew up.
They’d check your water, check your tires, check your oil, clean your windshield, wash and dry your car … all for the couple of dollars you spent with them to fill your gas tank. These days, it costs you $50+ to fill your tank, and you have to do everything yourself.
Ah me … and all I wanted was a toothpick with my chopsticks.

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