The Soupster eats more fruit.
The Soupster didn’t like sitting in the bulkhead or emergency exit rows on the airplane, so he had selected an aisle seat — Row 23, Seat C — on his flight home to Our Town. He liked to sit in a regular row, so he could stow his day bag – normally filled with must-haves and goodies – underneath the seat right in front of him.
Today his day bag was pretty empty – the Soupster didn’t have time to load the bag with treats. Oversleeping badly, he missed both the airport shuttle and the motel’s free breakfast. By the time he caught the next ride, he ran very late. The security lines seemed endless, the gate a long, long walk.
Like some others, the Soupster was old enough to remember when the airlines fed their passengers as a regular thing. Edible, sometimes pretty good, food was served in square plastic bowls that interlocked securely on the tray. Salad, entree and vegetable, even dessert.
Back in those well-fed days, the Soupster had once been served both breakfast and lunch on the same 5-hour cross-country flight. No sooner had the cabin attendants removed the breakfast refuse then their compatriots started serving lunch at the other end of the plane.
The food kept the passengers docile and in their seats and also provided entertainment. No such distractions now, the Soupster thought. Any food a passenger munched onboard these days was strictly do-it-yourself. The Soupster usually nabbed some snacks in the stores lining the concourses. But running late meant he had to skip the stores today and he boarded his flight empty-handed.
The Soupster took his aisle seat. He threw his bag under the seat in front. A middle-aged woman with a bulging carry-on bag stopped at Row 23 and indicated she had the window seat. The Soupster stood up and she squeezed by with her bag. A stout woman, she and her things seemed to fill both her seat and the seat in the middle. She immediately fell asleep.
But the Soupster was distracted. His one last chance for decent vittles on the flight was to purchase one of the airline’s snack boxes, which came as either “Fruit & Cheese,” or “Old World Snacks.” The Soupster liked the fruit and cheese. The old world snacks — olives and salami — not so much.
Unfortunately, the passengers in rows 1 to 23 preferred the fruit and cheese box, too. As a horrified Soupster looked on and listened in, passenger after passenger purchased the fruit and cheese. By the time the flight attendants reached the Soupster, the fruit and cheese was sold out.
A dejected Soupster bought an old world snack box with slight dread. His mouth wanted to be refreshed, not marinated. He lowered his tray table and opened the box. He took out a package of whole grain crackers and some salami slices. He took out a small bag with two or three kinds of olives.
Looking over his repast, the Soupster sighed. He opened the olives. As soon as he did, the woman by the window began stirring. She opened her eyes.
“Oooh, look at that food,” the woman said. “Those olives look scrumptious!”
She lifted her bulging bag onto the middle seat and rifled through it. “Maybe I could trade you for some of your olives and salami?” she said. “I have fruit.” She removed a sizeable Tupperware and peered inside.
“Would you like grapes, mango or pineapple?”