Two Ladies and a Turtle

Guest Author Shelly Mozlin

Shelly moved to Asheville 2+ years ago and has never regretted the decision to retire and leave NY. She loves spending time in the forest, hiking and riding her bike, Snow White the Princess of Gravel. Reading, writing and photography have made a strong comeback as well. She loves coffee shops and conversations. She almost always likes her coffee hot but her tea iced. Shelly is a new member of the Asheville Women Writers’ Co-op.


Today I returned to AVL from LGA having spent a few days visiting my mom. More on that later. I suffer from airport anxiety and when traveling solo, I always leave way too early and end up sitting in the terminal for a long time. This is preferable to worrying about traffic and long lines at security. Today I had additional concerns because despite checking in numerous times on the app, the app would not issue a boarding pass. After spending a good 30 minutes on the phone with tech support, I was told I would just have to get the boarding pass at the airport. This only added to my airport anxiety and a need to leave even earlier! But the stars were aligned. I got an Uber without difficulty, there was surprisingly little traffic, it only took a few minutes to get the boarding pass, it did include my TSA pre-cert, and getting through security was uncharacteristically fast!  Anyway, once I got to the gate, I had extra time to people watch.

Today’s primary observation was of a woman who I would say was in her late 70s. After settling in directly opposite me, she took out her cell phone and got down to business. She was wearing blue tooth enabled hearing aids which meant all her conversations were audible to everyone around her, and you didn’t have to try very hard to hear anything being said by either party.  First she called to find out the amount she owed on her taxes because she had missed the payment and wanted to get a check in the mail pronto to avoid a penalty! Then she called a caterer to order her Thanksgiving dinner. She did make it very clear that she would be cooking many of the sides, but she ordered a roast turkey, 2 quarts of gravy and a large order of roast vegetables once she had confirmed that it did not include parsnips. When she had made this final decision about avoiding parsnips, she then proceeded to close the deal and arrange for delivery by giving the person taking the order her full name, address, and email address. Then she whipped out her credit card, read off the number, the expiration date, and the security code as well.  All of which was read back to her for accuracy and to make sure anyone within a 10 seat radius who was copying down these numbers was also getting it right.

I looked at another woman sitting across from me, and we were like, “did that really happen?” When it became obvious that she was going to read her credit card number out loud in the middle of LaGuardia Airport, I ALMOST jumped up to stop her and in hindsight, I should have. I am not sure why I didn’t, was it because she was a stranger? Not my business? Not my problem? I did say something when the damage was done, telling her “Ma’am that was not a smart thing that you just did. Everyone could hear all the information that you just gave to the turkey man.” She seemed surprised, “You could hear me? It must be from my hearing aids. I didn’t realize that you can hear it too.” I tried to explain that people could hear her whether or not they could hear the turkey man repeating all the info, but I don’t think she understood. 

Then, to lighten the mood a bit, I told her that all the people sitting near her were now coming to her house on Thanksgiving so she better get back on the phone and order more food! This holiday entourage will include the lady sitting across from me with whom I had shared  that moment of disbelief. She was traveling with a 25 year old turtle. She was bringing said turtle (sorry I never asked the turtle’s name) to its place of birth, Asheville. Fear not, she won’t be releasing him into the wild; his tank awaits! I am not sure why, but her son could no longer keep the turtle in his NYC apartment. Perhaps his lease includes an anti-reptile clause. I asked if I could see the turtle, but she could only show me the glass container in which he is being transported. It was a rectangular glass Pyrex dish, about the size I would use to marinate tofu. It had a foam cover with lots of air holes poked through it. She apologized for not taking the cover off so I could see the turtle but she had done that in her Uber on the way to the airport and the turtle escaped. She had to wrangle the turtle back into its tofu container while being driven down the Grand Central Parkway. I am sure that was no easy task. 

I never heard any commotion while in flight, so I assume the turtle remained within his Pyrex carrier and is now happily sitting atop a nice rock in his glass tank somewhere in Asheville. As for the lady with the blue tooth connected hearing aids, I did see her leaving the terminal while I was waiting for Lew to pick me up. I almost called out to her, “Eve,”(yes, I remembered her name), “Eve, be sure to check your credit card account this evening to look for fraudulent charges!” But alas I didn’t. 


  1. Thanks for sharing this story from your recent travels, airports provide excellent people watching I agree….and in your situation people listening too

  2. Oh my. I sure hope all folks around Eve were/are just as honest as you are. Hearing aid folks need to be sure things are functioning properly. Wow.

  3. Love it, Shelly, thanks!

  4. I have heard many a conversation I didnt want to hear even outside airports. people dont realize those earbuds “talk”. and I love a good tortoise engagement.

    thanks Shelly. I enjoyed that story.

  5. Thank you Shelly for an entertaining tale. Now I am eager to see who is around me the next time I’m in an airport

  6. Cute story. I felt like I was right there in the airport with you. I don’t know what I would have said to Eve but I am sure I would NOT have wanted to see the turtle loose in LGA!

  7. Love your story, and can relate! I also get to the airport early and then sit for hours. I allow myself a meal while waiting, which is helpful in allowing the time to pass more pleasantly. After the shock of airport meal prices has eased, that is.

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