A couple years ago, as I boarded boarded a flight, I was followed an older gentleman who was being helped on-board by the stewardess. I watched as she stowed his cane in the over head bin. I then took my seat next to him.
The conversation began as another passenger boarded, blabbing loudly on her phone. The two of us and the stewardess were very annoyed with impolite cellphone users. The stewardess admitted that this was often a problem. She then ended the conversation in order to give the obligatory, unwatched safety instructions. As she finished, she asked everyone to turn off all electronic devices. I thought I had done so but just then my cell phone rang. I silenced it and promptly turned it off. I admitted that while cellphones were practical, they are often annoying. I also admitted that I had not, until very recently, gotten my own phone. I had resisted the pull of peer and non-peer pressure so long that it had nice to be one of the few without a phone. However, it had become necessary for me, so I now have a phone. I confessed to often being considered "old school" and "cell-phone illiterate".
We laughed and kept discussing other issues. It turns out that this gentleman was 91 years old. He had been fishing with his son and was returning home to southern California. I was intrigued and asked what he had done for a living. He had built rockets for a now non-existant company. He talked about how there were now so many rules and regulations to follow. He shared with me that he whil working he had had the need to do a test fire of a rocket but that the facility the company had was so close to housing that it was not allowed. This test needed done so he talked with someone he knew and arranged the whole thing, including putting all the electronic gear into a rented RV. He said in less than 10 days he had the whole thing organized, ready and tested. He and I were both of the opinion that this could not be pulled off today. I understand that there is a need to protect people, houses and the natural world around us. However, the current amount of red tape hinders new ideas and stifles innovation. There has to be a better way to protect the things we deem important.
We talked about many things even about the then current mortgage crisis. He talked about some experiences he had some years ago when some of his friends that had bought homes around LA and then the value of those homes went way up. They took out second mortgages and treated their homes as ATM machines: buying, without second thought, many of life's pleasures. As time came to repay approached, some were not able to afford all the debt they had assumed and were forced to sell everything. There had been no such thing as a government bail-out or of judges reworking contracts, etc. These people lived, failed, hopefully learned and tried to make the best of it by starting over.
I rather enjoyed his point of view on many things and I wish that many young people today would take the time to really look at things from the point of view of the older generation. We all could learn a lot by talking with those older than ourselves and hearing of their experiences.