November 08, 2010

I Hate Flying

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." Mark Twain

The last flight I took was the worst of my life. It was the first time that I ever truly felt fear for my safety and well being. The first time that I closed my eyes and told my children that I would always love them and promised to try to develop wings or discover superpowers.

It doesn't take any effort to hear that tin can the captain used to tell us to stay seated with our seat belts on or to remember that sick feeling I had of not being in control. Images of the captain fighting to keep the plane from hurtling out of control ran through my mind accompanied by the worried looks of the passengers around me.

But I did what I always do- I closed my eyes and went to that place inside my mind where I am that guy. That man who is calm, cool and collected. I closed my eyes and told myself that it was hero time and was surprised to find that the guy didn't answer the bell. Made a point to knock on his door and wondered why there was no answer.

Think about how many times you have heard someone use the expression "suck it up," or alternatively use something along the lines of "man up." Aren't they talking about that hero that is supposed to be hiding inside us. Maybe it is just me. Call it ego or an overactive imagination but I feel that hero lurking there in the dark. He is not omnipotent, omniscient or infallible.

The dude has plenty of flaws and sometimes he stumbles but he always answers the bell. Send up the Bat Signal and he shows up. He doesn't worry about whether the Joker is going to get away because in his mind he will always find a way.

But for that one moment, he didn't answer. Couldn't tell whether it was because he felt the shimmy and the shake and figured it was time to cover his own ass. All I knew is that for a moment I felt this pang of serious angst and wondered if maybe the dude had gone looking for greener pastures. I couldn't blame him now could I. I am not always full of sunshine and rainbows.

And then in a show of curmudgeonly love and support that grouchy dude with the cape and bad attitude appeared. Dude grabbed me by the shoulders slapped me across the face and then groaned when I kneed him in the family jewels.

Really, my response shouldn't have come as any sort of surprise. I am not someone you can slap, smack, kick, bite, grab or push without expecting a response. Not because I am some sort of tough guy but because I just won't have it. It is not in my DNA to sit back and take it.

Back in the land of reality I opened my eyes and looked around again. The damn plane was packed full of people and it really was bouncing around like some toddler swinging a Yo-Yo. And I really was concerned but thanks to the moment I took to close my eyes it was tolerable. Can't tell you if I had the headlights shut for seconds or minutes but it was tense.

In less than 24 hours I'll be back on another plane and I'd be lying if I said that I was looking forward to it. My distaste for flying started long before the episode I described above. Read through the blog and you'll find links to posts that share my thoughts on being stuffed inside a flying tin can. I am of average height but relatively broad. That shouldn't be a bad combination but it is. My knees rub against the seat in front of me and my shoulders exceed the generous allotment of space in those enormous chairs.

My funky digestive system makes me cranky with concern that I might have an issue on the plane. Flown thousands of times and never had it happen, but I still get concerned about it. Do my best to keep a positive attitude, but  still I have my moments.

And when you add in all of the hassles that come from the security procedures you find that old Jack can sometimes be an angry/frustrated man. But the good news is that I really don't worry about terrorism. Can't do much about that other than say that shoe/underwear bombers really don't want to be on my flight because no one will convict me of tearing off your right arm and beating you to death with it.

None of that is very likely- statistics and common sense say that the flying bus will likely not encounter any crazy or sane terrorists. Instead weather, birds and human error are what we have to worry about it. Oy, I really should just relax but my mind is running with all sorts of silly thoughts and ideas.

Suppose that it is time for this old man to get some shut eye because should I need to call on that superhero it would be wise to make sure that he is well rested for the coming flight.

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