Packing: Zero fun.
Last minute packing: Frazzled exhaustion.
The drive to the airport: A blur.
Adventure in airport security: Crawling through snaking lines of quiet dispair punctuated by drill sergeants commanding “move up!” in hollow colliseum-sized imprisonment facility.
Arrival at holding area: Hard bar.
Boarding: High anxiety.
Waiting for take-off: Sickening anticipation and drugs.
“Fasten your seatbelts”: Hail Mary full of Grace, here is my list of sins since my last flight. I beg your forgiveness.
Taxi to runway: Thank you for my many blessings.
We’re moving rather quickly now. What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you realize what’s about to happen?
Transition to the third dimension happens swiftly. The wheels are NOT on the ground, just air under this coffin with wings, which weighs tons. Ok, focus. Miracles are possible. If everyone believes, it can happen. Tony Robbins I need you now but beside me is a twelve-year-old preoccupied with a white paper bag. On the second try my voice is audible for an introduction. Rolfo is his name, or maybe that was something else.
How did we get up here so fast? Shouldn’t there be a slower ascent just in case the pilot changes her mind? A warning light could come on, a computer malfunction, a lose wing? There’s nothing out there now except puffy clouds BELOW me. Don’t look.
down, down, spiralling, faster and faster, flames shooting past the descending nose, people screaming, oxygen masks dangling
How much farther before the unthinkable?
Oh, everything’s fine. People are working on their laptops, watching TV, listening to music, talking and goofing off. They should be studying the emergency instructions. Fools.
Mercifully the seat belt sign goes off and the attendant is arriving at my row. Vodka please, keep it coming.
The pilot is giving our speed. I wish she wouldn’t. And matter of factly announcing trip duration, assuming we’ll make it.
I can see the emergency exit perfectly from my vantage point and the passenger responsible for getting the door open hasn’t even looked at the diagrams. He’s sitting there laughing at the movie like a simpleton. Aren’t there airline standards for who they put in that seat? an I.Q. test? strength training. Shouldn’t there be classes for several weeks prior to the flight, culminating with stringent examinations? He may have the lives of all these people in his hands and he couldn’t care less. Well, it will be on his head; lives lost, broken families.
I don’t want to see another plane up here just in case it gets in our way, killing everyone. A seasoned navigator is very important. No deviation from the flight path necessitating shoot down orders from the Department of Defence.
Opening the water closet door I enter a dreamworld, a bad dream world.
It used to be easier, before I saw those documentaries about what went wrong, aircraft design glitches, concerns about engine maintenance. I can’t even go there: engines and all those moving parts, twisting, turning, spinning, undulating, girating, overheating, birds then quiet, unexpected, surreal silence. Is Captain Sullenberger in the plane?
Landing is a very dangerous time. We hit the runway Way too fast. HIT THE BRAKES !
The flight crew are nowhere to be seen because they’re in the cockpit controlling the mayhem. The pilot wrestles with the controls …
People shreak in sheer terror. Well, I am.
“Ma’am, excuse me… Lady!”
“Oh, sorry,” I mutter, releasing my vice-like grip on Rolfo’s forearm.
Finally we stop, just short of the cliff.
The professional crew calmly open the door for disembarkment. The emergency door passenger gets a big hug from one of the attendants, who wishes him a happy break.
Then she smiles my way and thanks me for flying with them, as if everything went without a hitch.
no big deal