Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Pretzel Bag and the Boy across the Aisle

Less than a year ago, I learned that the snack bags given to you on an airplane have a tear-tab manufactured onto one end.  To open the bag, you simply split the bag apart at that point.
Presto!  A neatly opened bag of pretzels or peanuts.
This was quite a revelation to me—something along the lines of discovering that closing my mouth while riding a bike will prevent me from eating bugs.
Good to know, right?
Actually, that girl showed me the snack-bag trick after she watched me open a bag World War III style (with both hands and my teeth).  My pretzels exploded across the cabin on a plane bound for Seattle.
Friday, on a flight back to Montana, I asked for a bag of pretzels.  I opened them without incident.
Across the aisle from me sat a boy of about fourteen or fifteen.  His mother sat beside him.  The quickest observance of the boy revealed that he suffered from profoundly impaired cognitive and physical abilities.  I watched the boy and his mother interacting as we flew from the green side of America to the America of river-crossed basins and rocky ranges—the West.
The boy’s mother prodded the boy every so often so he would open his mouth.  She would then extend a hotdog to the boy so he could take a bite.  Lolling his head, the boy would chew and chew and chew on the hotdog until his mother reminded him that he needed to swallow.
As I munched from my gracefully opened bag of pretzels, I thought about how lucky I was to open my own bag.  I am lucky to be able to tie my own shoes.  To drive from place to place.  To whistle a three-note tune.  To call a friend and engage in mindless conversation.
Such small things, I know.  But my biggest days are really no more than a series of such small things strung together.

--Mitchell Hegman