Anatomy of a Flight
Confession time! I don't like flying. For as much as I've done in my life, you'd think I'd at least be OK with it. Turns out, you'd be wrong. During a flight I get tense and uptight; I usually can't sleep; I get restless leg syndrome; I daydream about how the plane MUST be going down and how the stewardess is going to come running down the aisle screaming "Brace for impact, and may God have mercy on us all!" followed by "If you'd like to purchase anything from SKY Mall, we'll be running through the aisles momentarily!!!" Anyway, on my way out to DC, I had the pleasure of a five-hour flight on US Airways. Here's pretty much how it went: 00:00 The nice people over the intercom announce through the static that we "can board the plane according to zone... or if you're in a group of two or more, you can enter whenever you like. Oh, and if you're in business or first class, go ahead and board at your leisure. Or if you're tall, with child, sickly, weasley, corrupt, or just a jerk, you can get on whenever you like, too. Actually, it's just first-come, first-served, only it weeds out the nice people. So, really, we're separating the wheat from the chaff. The last people on the plane? The Golden Wheat of the Blessed. If you're meek, you will inherit the Earth, but not a good seat on this plane! Thank you, that is all." 00:05 Try and desperately shove my oversized "Personal Item" underneath the seat in front of me. As my carry-on hardly fits in the overhead compartment, the nice part of me convinces the not-so-nice part of me to not push my luck and keep my enormous JanSport daypack in front of me. As I've attempted to fit everything I own into two bags, these pieces of luggage are about the size of a small child and Great Dane, respectively. Decide I'm definitely the wheat on this flight. 00:10 Wait for the rest of the plane to be seated. Wonder who I would text if this were, in fact, my last flight on earth. 00:11 Luggage cart crashes into the side of the plane at relatively high speed. Resulting bump prompts man seated next to me to remark "Gremlins, I'm sure of it." Awesome. Not only am I worried about sudden altitude loss, storms, electrical failures, landing gear seizures, mid-air collisions, and pilot error, I now have to fret about fictional little creatures from a creepy mid-80s movie. 00:12 Wonder if Jesus receives text messages. WWJT? 00:13 Debate about sending a text to my Mom, or alternatively to my Dad. Realize that neither one would receive it for several hours. And even then, I wonder, would they know what to do with it? 00:14 Settle on prank-texting one of my brothers. The morbidly hilarious possibilities are endless. 00:15 Wonder again if I'm the wheat or the chaff. 00:20 Start to type "Well, we've just taken off, but there's this weird flashing red light and I l..." 00:24 Decide I'm definitely the chaff. 00:30 The plane starts to taxi toward the runway. Wonder why they call it taxiing. 00:31 The Air Hostesses begin their safety presentation. Adults, foreigners, teenagers, God-fearing, and small children alike make a point of ignoring the show. Even the Air Hostesses seem slightly embarrassed. I am enthralled. 00:33 Ponder whether a seat belt could really save me after plummeting from 35,000 ft up in a large tin can with wings. 00:34 Decide that Jesus probably accepts text messages, but wonder which network he's on... 00:45 The plane starts to speed up all of a sudden. I watch the little monitor three rows up hoping to distract myself from the impending doom that is this particular flight. 00:47 Realize, to my horror, that the monitor is showing a trivia program courtesy of the Travel Channel, and the current brain teaser is "Popular as a mode of execution during the French Revolution, when was the Guillotine finally outlawed? Answer to follow...." 00:48 Internally scream The people who put these programs together are sick!!! 00:55 Airplane hits a patch of turbulence during its ascent to higher altitudes. Decide that my last thoughts will not be about the macabre horrors of the French Revolution. 00:58 Exult in correctly answering the Travel Channel's question: 1981. Huzzah!!! 00:59 Scanning my mental library through the rocking and shaking, decide that my last thoughts will not be about Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Business Associations, Evidence, Mediation, Tax, or any other type of law school knowledge, either. 01:10 Realize, to my horror, that I have no other thoughts which to place last. Sob quietly into the shoulder of the large man sitting next to me, who is already fast asleep and snoring. 01:35 After controlling the racking sobs, hear the beep of the intercom and the captain stating "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to 35,000 feet. Up here the ride should be pretty comfortable. But, if for whatever reason, we should go down in a heap of twisted metal, please pay attention to the air hosts and hostesses. They will direct you as to the best way to proceed from there. Thank you for flying US Airways." 01:36 Wonder if I could text the captain "Get us to DC in one piece or else," but realize that this course of action could be interpreted very badly... 01:50 Notice that my tongue has dried to the roof of my mouth, and wonder when the complimentary drink cart will roll on through. 02:00 Overhear the BOOP of the intercom and the Lead Air Host(ess) saying "Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll now be coming around with the US Airways Air Cafe. We're currently serving a ham sandwich at filet mignon prices and slightly old fruit at Depression Era prices (all adjusted for in-flight inflation for your convenience). If you'd like a drink, we accept credit cards with a limit of no less than $5,000. Thank you!" Finally understand why they call it taxiing. 02:01 Decide that a mass text message to the captain, the Lead Air Host(ess), and Jesus is in order. Pray they're all on the same network... 02:10 Stare down the US Airways Air Cafe as it makes its snide little way around the snide little US Airways cabin and toy with the idea of "fainting" on the way to the snide little US Airways bathroom as a ruse to get some US Airways water. 02:15 Abandon any and all thoughts of malfeazance as "beneath me" and try to catch some sleep. 02:19 Eyes shut, sleep commences. Life is...better. Some Time Later Wake up and realize, to my horror, that FIVE MINUTES HAS PASSED. THAT'S IT!!! Try to kick something, but can't seem to move my leg due to the Personal Item. 02:35 Overhear babies communicating with their own kind throughout the cabin. High pitched wails are apparently Babese for "What's up?" and frantic squealing means "Not much." 02:53 Wonder whether people REALLY know what they're doing when they bring multiple children on the same flight. Brainstorm series of kiddy transportation bins... 03:12 See the adorable little Polynesian kid sitting in front of me start to wander down the aisle. An equally adorable older Asian gentleman (who looks EXACTLY like my high school gym teacher) takes note, and after silently getting parents' permission with a series of nods and smiles, scoops adorable kid up into his arms and proceeds to keep adorable kid adorably entertained and out of parents' hair for the next twenty minutes. Reflect on the meaning of "It takes a village..." and realize that parents really know what they're doing when they bring kids on the same flight. Also realize that I really don't know what I'm doing... very meta... 03:37 Notice that the Travel Channel program has returned to the French Guillotine. Réaliser, à mon horreur, que j'ai déjà vu cette partie du film! Turning my head up to the little AC twisty nob and light dashboard, I quickly pop my hand over my mouth and say "Oui!" 03:45 Decide that fainting for water is NOT beneath me, and make a hasty move for the bathroom. 03:45:05 Trip heavily into the aisle and onto the chest of another large, snoring man. Learn in that instant that making a hasty move is not advisable when your enormous personal item is interfering with your feet. 03:45:36 Head still buried in large, snoring man's chest, pray he doesn't wake up and try to eat me as part of the US Airways Air Cafe menu. 03:46:15 Extricate myself from large man. Blame the exchange on turbulence and move quickly to my seat... 04:00 Say a quick prayer of thanks that there's only one more hour on this death march of a flight... 04:12 Suddenly drop 200 ft. Hands grip arm rest to the left and man's arm to the right. Pointedly avoid looking out on the wing, knowing what I'll see.... 04:13 Convince myself that Gremlins are not real. They were puppets. In a movie. Except for that one Twilight Zone with William Shatner. But he was an overactor.... But... 04:45 Hear the less-than-comforting BEEEEP of the fasten seat belts sign. The captain follows with "Well, you're here. Nation's Capital. Yadda yadda yadda. We're about to land. Hold on." 04:51 Wonder where the last thirty minutes went. And for that matter, where the last 25 years went... 04:58 Hear the landing gear descend. Pray that it does so fully and completely. Sans Gremlin. 05:10 Landing. I hate landings. I hate landings. I hate landings. I hate landings. I wonder if DC is really as cool as everyone says. I hate landings. I hate landings. Can't wait for this trip. Landed. I love having landed. I love it! I love the people that made me come out here. I love the city. I LOVE DC. I love the airport. I love the pilot. I love life. I love the asphalt underneath the plane. I love the US Airways Air Cafe. I love the faux leather seat. I love the funk of the cabin. I love the guys next to me. I love everyone and everything!!! So much to love! I LANDED!!!! 05:15 Realize I forgot to pack my socks.