Scene: It’s the year 2019, and because of widespread electrical storms, a commercial flight from Seattle to Chicago is diverted to Hector International Airport near Fargo, North Dakota.
The pilot is confused when ground controllers mention that the Instrument Landing System (ILS) is not yet operational and that they must land using visual flight rules (VFR). A safe landing is made and upon entering the terminal, passengers soon become aware of something strange.
Passenger 1 to Passenger 2: “Have you had any luck with your iPhone? I can’t get anything.”
Passenger 2: “No. I tried as soon as we landed.”
Passenger 1: “Did you notice how people are dressed? They look like something out of a movie.”
The flight’s passengers are quickly ushered into a separate room and told to await further notice. In the confusion two manage to sneak away to the general waiting area.
Passenger 1 to waiting passenger: “Sir, we just came in from Seattle and our iPhones won’t work. Would you mind if I borrow yours for a minute?”
Man: “What’s an iPhone?”
Passenger 1: “Oh, I’m sorry. We’ll ask someone else. Miss, would you mind if you used your iPhone for a quick call?”
1st Woman: “I’m sorry, there’s a pay phone over there on the wall.”
Passenger 2: “Pardon, but what are the big headlines on that newspaper you’re reading…something about Kennedy being elected?”
1st Woman: “Yes, it was close, but we now have a Democrat in the White House.”
Passenger 1: “That newspaper…what is the year?”
1st Woman: “Well 1960, of course. You both look rather pale…maybe you should sit down.”
Passenger 2: “That’s okay, we’ll just keep trying to find someone with an iPhone.”
The two passengers approach other people in the waiting area.
Passenger 1: “Pardon me, but is your iPhone working?”
Man: “A what?”
2nd Woman: “Do you need a telephone? There are some over near the wall…”
Passenger 1: “Never mind.” (Exasperated) “Do you mind if we sit here?”
2nd Woman: “Go ahead. You and your friend look out of sorts. This darn storm has a lot of people with frayed nerves. Where are you from?”
Passenger 2: “Sorry, but why are so many people talking and not using their iPhones?”
2nd Woman: “I don’t know what you mean, dear, about iPhones. They’re probably talking about the election. Quite the news.”
Passenger 1: “So it’s 1960. November 9. The election just happened?
2nd Woman: “Of course. My husband voted for Nixon, and so did many of my friends. I just like that Kennedy guy…he has so much class.”
Passenger 1 to Passenger 2: “This is so weird. We have to get out of here.”
2nd Woman: “Please stay, dears, and catch your breath. We were just having a discussion about how Republicans will be challenged with the Democratically-controlled Congress. Kennedy’s in the catbird seat. Most of my friends are conservatives, but there are a few of us old liberals who give them a hard time.”
Passenger 1: “You get along? You actually speak to each other?”
2nd Woman: “Why of course. How would anyone, voters, especially Congress, get anything done if they didn’t speak to one another?
Passenger 2: “You and your friends with different political beliefs don’t have separate news sources, like the internet, cable TV or social media?”
2nd Woman’s husband: “Separate news sources? I don’t know what you mean. We read the newspaper like everyone else, watch TV. Exchange views with friends. What are you talking about?”
Passenger 2: “Never mind. My friend and I are both very confused. We’ll try that telephone you mentioned. Thanks.”
Woman: “Take care. I hope you don’t have to wait too long for your next flight…”
Passenger 2 to Passenger 1: “Are we losing our minds? 1960? Maybe we should try to find the rest of the group. Can you believe it? I never saw so many people jabbering in all my life. It’s noisy.”
Passenger 1: “No iPhones. How do they get anything done?”
Frank E. Baker is a lifelong Alaskan and freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebekah.