Colleague Jack Eisen is a man with an unflagging curiosity about life. He enjoys every assignment and regards even the most routine of duties an opportunity to learn something new.
The other night we were talking about our common addiction: when we travel, whether by train, plane, bus or auto, we love to look out of windows. Both of us are fascinated by the scenes that slide past a moving vehicle.
"A couple of years ago," Jack recalled, "the city editor sent me out to Seattle. I couldn't get a direct flight, so they booked me via San Francisco. I was delighted, because for the first time in my life I would be flying over my native city. I was anxious to see what it looked like from the air.
"I checked in early to be sure I'd get a window seat, and I managed to get exactly what I wanted.
"Just before takeoff, a woman and young boy stopped at the two seats alongside me. 'Excuse me, sir,' the woman said. 'My son has never been on an airplane before, and I wonder if you'd mind letting him have the window seat so that he can see the view.
"I couldn't say no, so I got up and let him take the window seat, whereupon his mother moved over into the middle seat, and that left the aisle seat for me.
"The kid immediately took out a comic book and read it during the first 30 minutes of the flight, holding it up at such an angle that he blocked my view of the window. He wasn't interest in looking out the window, and I couldn't. And by the time he got tired of the comic book, we were above the clouds and there was nothing to see."
"Something like that wouldn't be likely to happen to you these days," I said, "Today's young people have a keen awareness of the world around them. They take a greater interest in social issues, and the environment, and stuff like that."
"Oh, really?" Jack said. "I flew in from Chicago on the red-eye special this morning, and if you were up early you know what a glorious sunrise we had. Everything for miles around was sharp and clear. I could make out familiar places in Maryland and Virginia, and of course as we straightened out for the run to the airport, the nationally famous landmarks came into view - and I think every American gets a tingle when he sees the Capitol dome glistening in the sunlight.
"There was excited chattering from the seat behind me, which was occupied by a couple of teen-agers heading for Washington with a tour group. I turned to see what was going on and found they were tuning a portable radio to find out what kind of rock music was available on Washington stations. They had just turned in a favorite rock group and were whooping with joy."
How's that for social awareness?
THIS IS WASHINGTON
Rudy Maxa is another newsman who watches with interest as the world rolls by. Rudy, as you know, is The Washington Post Magazine columnist who does those bright two pages titled "Front Page People."
Rudy took a cab to The Post a few days ago and became so absorded in the sights and sounds around him that he left a $150 Sony tape recorder on the back seat of the cab.
The hacker found the machine soon after, and it would have been relatively simple for him to liberate it and say nothing. But Washington cab drivers are a special breed, as we have noted here on many occasions. Driver Bezabeth kefale (an African by birth) headed straight back to The Post and delivered the recorder to Maxa's desk.
For the record: Like hackers in most jurisdictions, Washington cab drivers are forbidden by law to retain property they find in their cabs. The rule is frequently ignored in other cities, but not here. You'd be surprised how often valuable items are turned in.
Much against his will, Bob Orben tried a new brand of yogurt, with predictable results. He writes:
"If you don't think PR and advertising are effective, consider the millions of Americans who now think yogurt tastes good."
For the benefit of those who have never tried it, Orben explains, "Yougurt is the magical joining together of three vital ingredients: inspired advertising, imaginative flavoring, and library paste."
"Smiles," which is published for the Lawshe Instrument Co., counsels: "When your mind goes blank, don't forget to turn off the sound, too."