But On the Other Hand

I do not like to fly. Being at an altitude of 37,000 feet, traveling 600 miles per hour in a metal cylinder wrought of material provided by the lowest bidder make me feel akin to a bird being made to snorkel. It’s somehow unnatural and certainly, no way to make brownie points with Mother Nature.

The last flight I took almost did me in. My daughter and I waited in the departure lounge to board our flight. As I sat there, trying to appear the picture of serenity, I noticed our flight number. Whew! I breathed a sigh of relief…no 13’s in the number. Then I surveyed the waiting passengers for possible hijackers and took careful notice of the flight attendants as they boarded the plane. Do they look competent? Are they too old to act fast in an emergency or are they so young they lack proper emergency experience. In the back of my mind lurked the ugly question, “How could they have ever had real life emergency experience and still be around to tell about it?”

I was satisfied that the attendants appeared capable enough and that no hijackers were present. Well…. there was one rather suspicious looking fellow but my fears subsided when he donned his captain’s hat. I closely examined the airplane we were about to board. Thank goodness, it was a normal looking plane. No designer initials or color coordinated tail and wing section for me. I want a plane to look serious, the more ominous and powerful the better, certainly not cutesy or frivolous. Cutesy and frivolous planes make me very nervous. Color coordination is for bathroom accessories, not Boeing 727’s.

Finally, it was time to board. I entered the plane and presented my boarding pass to the attendant. After several futile attempts, we finally made hand contact. I don’t know if it was the shaking or the sweaty palms but somehow she sensed my apprehension.

“Are you nervous?” she kindly asked.

“Who? Me? Nervous? Me, nervous? Yes, quite.”

“Don’t worry, dear. You’ll be landing soon.” I took note that she did not specify exactly how we would be landing.

My daughter had been eyeing my behavior with great interest. For her sake it was imperative I appear as calm and collected as possible. How I wished I could cry hysterically, grab the attendant and beg her to hold and rock me. Somehow, it didn’t seem apropos.

We made our way towards the passenger section, deciding which seats to take. In the back of the plane? I’d heard it’s safest there but on the other hand, you hear all those dreadful noises, or even worse, you hear the noises stop. In the front? It’s much smoother there but supposedly not as safe. By the window? There you can keep an eye on both the engines and the ground and be assured that never the twain shall meet. On the other hand, if the twain do meet you have a front row seat and personally, I’d just as soon follow the old adage, “ignorance is bliss”. By the aisle? Here you can make a quick getaway towards an exit but on the other hand, you are far removed from the window and thus cannot jump up and down hysterically to warn the pilot when you see another plane sharing your wild blue yonder. In the middle seat? I find this the most uncomfortable and claustrophobic …but on the other hand, if the person to your right does not appreciate your fingernails penetrating his shirt sleeve maybe the person on your left will. By an exit door? Here you can make an extremely fast getaway… but on the other hand, you might find you have been trampled to death and I think it would be most depressing to have survived the holocaust only to be done in by the cure. Then of course there is the possibility of the exit door accidentally opening and that would be, to say the least, messy.

By the time I had examined all the seating possibilities the decision had been made for me. My daughter and I had the last two seats in the last row. I was relieved that the decision had not been mine. Fate had, no doubt, put us in these two seats and the consequences were totally out of my hands. I felt better already.

The attendant’s pre-flight emergency equipment spiel did little to alleviate my fears. Oxygen masks and seat belts were not my idea of adequate life saving devices. When she was ready to talk parachutes I’d be ready to listen.