I don’t pretend to enjoy flying any more than I pretend to enjoy a good root canal or a lazy afternoon with nothing to watch but FOX News. I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re well past the days of flying the friendly skies when the stewardesses still winked at you and it didn’t cost $37 for a bag of pretzels the size of an iPod. Instead, air travel has become a tiresome ordeal of puddle jumping in one sardine can after another until you finally arrive at your destination 14 hours later, unable to remember where it was that you were actually flying to in the first place thanks to the lady in front of you who didn’t understand the courteous concept of “Just because you can recline your seat back doesn’t mean that you should…”
Still oddly enough, it never ceases to amaze me when the plane finally touches back down onto the tarmac and screeches to a halt from a few hundred miles per hour before opening the door and delivering me to a land somewhere on the other end of the country that would’ve taken me three times as long to drive to myself in the traditional sense. The idea that they’re somehow able to slingshot this magical tin can to an altitude of roughly five miles above the surface of the Earth alone just seems a bit, how should I put it … incredible … to my feeble self who had a hard enough time mastering the heights of the jungle gym back in the 4th grade!
Well, both incredible and terrifying, I suppose, if you want to nitpick…
Now I haven’t always had a fear of flying, per se, but let me tell you, these last couple of trips have really been pushing their luck with regards to my nerves at 30,000 feet, that’s for sure! I mean, I know it’s technically not fair to hold the captain accountable for the weather, but if there’s one thing scarier than hearing, “I’m sorry, Sir – the gentleman behind you just got our last bottle of rum,” it’s the phrase that I heard over the loudspeaker from the captain a couple of weeks ago while my wife and I were flying out to Seattle.
Case in point:
“Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats and fasten your safety belts – the next 20 minutes are going to be a little rough because we’re going to be flying through some UNSTABLE AIR…”
“Folks, this flight is about to get scary as all hell!!!”
And I don’t know about you, but as much as I may rant and rave about all of the other subhuman flying conditions that our modern airlines offer to us for flying with them, I for one would gladly pay full sticker price for that crusty, ham sandwich and eat it sitting on the lap of the passenger next to me, if only to avoid having to endure the plane being shook up like a barrel of monkeys! There’s just something about this flying bus being tossed around the atmosphere like a hacky-sack that makes me start to wonder, “Hey, maybe this is God’s way of telling us, ‘Get the hell out of the sky!’”
Thankfully, though, as you may have guessed, I did make it down from that horrible, horrible flight in the preferred, gradually descending manner, and I’m man enough to admit that the ground was thoroughly kissed just as soon as they opened that cabin door – big surprise, I wasn’t the only one! After that, I vowed never to fly again, forgetting of course that I was now 3,000 miles away from home with no car, Segway, or horse and buggy to provide substitute transportation when it came time for the vacation to come to an end, and thus I was forced to reluctantly endure The Rollercoaster of the Skies once again about three days later, however at least that time I had the good sense to try and sleep through the turbulent chaos.
Until they come up with some sort of flying tranquilizer – one that doesn’t cost $7 a bottle, anyways – I suppose dreaming about falling out of the sky is still a smidge better than fully conscious, anxiety about falling out of the sky! That $37 bag of pretzels always seems to be a lot bigger in my dreams, too, and as for the stewardesses, well, let’s just say that the benefits of having a vivid imagination can often times be perky and plentiful…