Those of us who are old enough to have either been in the Depression or had parents who went through it know that our relatives endured things that we would find unimaginable today. But they didn't really complain.
Sure, tough times are tough on everyone but that seems to be the key to surviving them.
And that's the oddly upbeat spirit that has settled like a big comfy quilt over AOPA Expo. Absolutely everyone in the room has seen business drop through the floor and they know it's not their fault and that the folks in the booth next door are feeling the same.
Six months ago, every news conference I attended at a show like this was an aggressive display of marketing oneupmanship that frankly grew tedious. At this level, everyone makes good products and it's more a matter of utility and personal choice that guides buying decisions.
Well, make no mistake that competition is alive and well in the industry and that companies give no quarter in their quest for market share.
But when there is hardly any market to share there's simply no need to be so guarded.
And that's what's making this event so much fun. I've never seen the kind of friendly mingling, banter and camaraderie between vendors, exhibitors and even the media that I've seen here.
We've all seen our share of tough times in the past few months and we can all relate on some pretty basic levels.
And we all have jobs, which is an enormous source of joy for me and seems to be shared by everyone I've run into in San Jose.
Most of us in this industry got into it because we really couldn't be happy doing anything else. We're lucky. And we're showing it at AOPA by getting to know each other a little and sharing the crap that most of us wading through at the moment.
My parents and grandparents always reflected most fondly on the toughest parts of their lives.
No one wants this to go on forever but it's sure nice that common decency, human nature and the natural bond between those of us in aviation are getting us through this one.
But that doesn't mean we want it to go on forever...