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Where’s the Pull-down Tray?

     Now that you have to leave your family and friends at curbside, there’s no one to help you juggle your carry-on luggage and the fast food meal that’s going to have to hold you through two hours in the airport terminal and another three hours on the plane.

     It wasn’t easy getting that pizza, an over-sized Pepsi, and my bulging computer case to a seat in the gate area without spilling anything, but I managed. Barely. I lowered myself into the seat and set the large paper cup filled with Pepsi on the floor.

     Well, there was no place else to put it - no cupholders on those armrests. I positioned my feet one on either side of the Pepsi to protect it from hurried passers-by and settled in to enjoy my terminal meal.

     I spilt it. Not the Pepsi - the pizza juice. At the very first bite, a big glop of greasy, cheesy juice oozed out from the crust and spilled straight onto my jeans. I scrubbed furiously with my napkin, but it didn’t help a bit. As soon as I finished my meal, I went off in search of a washroom.

     Soap only made a bigger spot, but later, when we took off through a soft white comforter of clouds and arrived on the second floor with its clear blue skies, I forgot all about the huge stain on my jeans.

     Only thing was - where was the pull-down tray? The seatback in front of me had two very large pockets. Only s’posed to be one. One pocket. One tray. Right?

     Thinking I had the only deformed seatback on the plane, I looked across the aisle. None of those seatbacks had trays either. What was everyone going to do when the refreshment cart came by? No way I’d be able to juggle three pretzels and a two-inch plastic cup of soda in mid-air when I couldn’t even handle pizza ’n Pepsi on solid ground.

     A nine-year-old girl – I think - in athletic gear was in the seat next to me. Suddenly she turned and lifted the arm between us. The seat’s arm – not hers. Only she wasn’t lifting the whole arm –

     By gosh! She was taking the arm apart! The top section parted ways with the lower and then she reached inside. Looked like she was trying to pull something out. Whatever it was, she wasn’t having much luck and I was about to offer help when she turned away and opened her magazine. She left the top of the armrest sticking up in the air.

     Below us the white comforter had dissolved to reveal a bumpy range of spring green mountains far below. Those green green mountains wound their way below us all the way to San Francisco and from there, on up to Medford, Oregon. They were beautiful!

     But at the moment, I had more important things to do. I looked into the open armrest and spied a gray plastic something. Must be what the athlete had been trying to get out.  Curious, I tried to retrieve it. After a few fumbles, I got a good grip and pulled the plastic something out of the armrest.  

     The plastic something was a small flat gray square. With hinges in the middle. I unfolded it, laid it across my lap and watched the greatly anticipated snack cart roll slowly down the aisle.   

     Both pretzels were delicious and the miniature Pepsi would’ve been refreshing if there’d been more of it and even tho’ the tray was wobbly, I didn’t spill an ounce of pretzel juice on my jeans.

     I’m sure glad to know they haven’t done away with trays on the airlines – just downsized them to fit the food portions. But looks like I’m going to have to get a much smaller computer before my next flight…

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