If God had intended us to fly, He would've given us wings.  I grow only more convinced of this the longer I live (and the more often I fly).  The entire process is laced with absurdity.

I am greeted in the security line by a surly guard who takes my ID and reads it carefully.  He looks suspiciously at my face, presumably to see if I'm a match. I am smiling politely and trying very hard not to look like a terrorist–I didn't realize it was a stretch–but it is evidently, because he examines the ID and me yet again.  Just as am I about to speak up and assure him he will find no one more invested in this plane landing safely than I, he finally hands back the ID and waves me through.

At the gate, I find a seat near a woman who, it appears, is some sort of sales manager for a candy company. I know this because she is a Loud Talker.  As I sit there, quietly, trying to read my book, she places call after call to the convenience stores who sell her candies, asking them how sales are and making suggestions on how to improve.  "Tell the customers it's almost Valentine's Day!" she chirps, loudly.  "They can buy a box and when their boyfriend gets home, they can leave a trail of candy from the front door all the way back to the…" I get up to move at this point, not especially interested in receiving romance counseling this way (though better here than at the convenience store check-out counter, I suppose).

Just before we board, the pilot comes out to chat with the gate attendants.  He is wearing a tie that is, shall we say, questionable in its good taste.  It is much too wide and it contains a cartoon emblem of a waving American flag, flanked by the snarliest- looking bald eagle you've ever seen..  I don't know whether to be comforted by this–maybe he's so patriotc he will go all Jack Bauer on any questionable passengers.  Or maybe he's a goofball who likes taking commercial airplanes on loop-de-loops.  I watch him closely.

We are instructed that boarding will begin, and we all stand, though we peasants must wait as the Priority Advantage Deluxe passengers board first.  I suffer an uncomfortable flashback to the eighth grade.

When we peasants finally begin our march down the ramp, my anxiety level builds.  I find myself scanning the plane for signs of trouble.  Loose rivets?  Signs of impact with killer geese?  Unlucky numbers painted on the side?  Though I am normally not at all superstitious,  I always touch the side of the plane as I walk through the doors.  I even give it a pat, the way one would a faithful horse, I imagine.  Easy, boy, easy. 

Take-offs are my most anxious part; the plane always feels, to me, as if it's groaning, pushing unnaturally against gravity.  I suck in my stomach; I don't know why.  It makes me look thinner, maybe it will make me feel lighter to a groaning airplane.

The flight is, mercifully, uneventful.

When we land Captain Questionable Tie comes out to greet us. "Welcome to Nashville," he said.  "It's COLD here in the midwest."  Everyone looks at him blankly.  "Oh, that's right, Nashville is in the South, isn't it?"

And this is the man who just drove my airplane?  Absurd, I tell you. 

Next time, a train.

Posted in: Fun

58 thoughts on “Airborne

  1. Heather says:

    I think landing is the scariest part because I imagine that the WOOSH sound that the flip-y things on the wings make to slow the plane is exactly what it would sound like were it bursting into flames.
    But just think, worst case it crashes and you end up in Hawaii with two hot, complicated men fighting for your attention!
    (sweet dreams, safe travels… and for the trip home, get yourself a tipsy cake and eat the whole thing right before you board the plane. You’ll thank me later)

  2. JenM says:

    Thank you for changing to full feeds instead of truncated! I use Google Reader and it’s so much easier to read your full post in the Reader than to have to click over to it each time.
    Glad you arrived safely, have a great trip!

  3. Ladybug Crossing says:

    Please… give the pilot a break. The tie is probably the one they make him wear. It’s a uniform he hates – guaranteed! Oh, And, he’s probably been to 3 or 4 other airports before he got to Nashville…
    Trust me, the guy who is flying the plane wants to get home for dinner, too.

  4. Kim says:

    I always tell people I hate flying but it’s actually crashing that I’m afraid of. I’ve only had to fly once in my life and this post reminded me of the way I felt. But the particular airport I was flying from was on the side of a mountain in West Virginia so basically if the airplane refused to take off for some reason we would have just slid off the face of a mountain to our untimely deaths but of course that didn’t happen as I am here to write this stupid comment LOL. I loved your story.

  5. Upstatemomof3 says:

    Oh my!! At least you arrived in Nashville. 🙂 I was never afraid of flying until I had kids. Once Big Brother was born every flight felt like a risk. He loves flying always wants to know when we can go on an airplane again. Me? I have started saying things like – maybe driving to Florida is not so bad. Enjoy your trip – and try not to think about the plane ride home. 🙂

  6. Dawn W says:

    Actually, bad tie guy flew your plane… I hope.
    Have fun in Nashville! I lived there for one year. It’s a great town – even if it’s in the “midwest.” Ha ha!

  7. Luke Holzmann says:

    And while The Numbers would be scary, the flight was 815, not:
    4 8 15 16 23 42 [smile].
    Of course, I think I would gladly inform anyone and everyone that the numbers are bad if I saw them on the side of a plane…
    Glad you arrived safely in the Midwest [laughing].

  8. Sarah the secret blower says:

    glad you landed safely…I always want to lay down on the ground and have an intimate moment with terra firma whenver I survive a plain ride…
    on the upswing, I about got ran off the road by a big rig that didn’t see me…and although my adrenaline didn’t kick in…it was a close one…
    so flying, driving…we are in God’s hands…n’est-ce pas?

  9. songbirdtiff says:

    You are braver than I. I really wanted to go to Blissdom, but it just wasn’t the cards. Flying was not an option, however, I would have driven. It’s not THAT far from Arkansas, right? 🙂

  10. Gail Mitchell says:

    I have to admit that I feel a guilty pleasure in seeing that others share my irrational fears! By the grace of God, I still love going places more than I fear flying, so I will continue to fly. Take-offs are my hardest part. Once we are in the air for awhile, I figure we are probably going to make it :0)

  11. Jen K says:

    Soooo funny. I have the same neurotic habit of touching the outside of the plane before I board. As if we have made a connection and now we are “one”. Thanks for the chuckle!!!

  12. Robinznest says:

    I have the same fears – I refuse to let my fear stop me from doing things – but the more I fly, the worse it is.
    I always check out the pilot to make sure he is older than me! I like my doctors and my pilots to be older than me!

  13. Photoqueen says:

    “I watch him closely.” For some reason, that just cracked me up!
    I do not enjoy flying. I called my mom when I landed (to check on my daughter, staying at my parents’ house) and she asked how my flight was. I said, “Well, it landed and I didn’t throw up, so…good.”
    Looking forward to meeting you this weekend!

  14. Linda says:

    Oh Shannon, I’m smiling big and nodding in absolute agreement. Flying has lost all its charm for me. I keep hoping some inventive soul will draw up plans for bridges that span the oceans!

  15. Roberta Anne says:

    I want to leave a comment but I am laughing too hard and the tears are rolling down my cheeks. I too think that flying is highly over rated and now because the cost of everything is separate… did you want a seat, that will be an extra $50! I think maybe a bus or train will be a better choice.
    Roberta Anne

  16. Amy says:

    Too funny!
    I have grown increasingly nervous about flying the older I get. I’m not quite sure why. It is nice to know that I’m not the only one that sucks in her stomach during take-off!
    Hope you have fun here in Nashville. I didn’t realize I was currently residing in the midwest!

  17. BlueCastle says:

    I hope you have a terrific time. Thank you for the great narrative. It made me laugh. It’s fun to people-watch, in airports, isn’t it? I always feel guilty too, going through security. Like I’m a terrorist, but I don’t know it yet or something. 🙂
    I remember being a kid and my dad giving us strict instructions before we went in the airport “Do not, under any circumstances, say Hi to Jack.” Didn’t matter that we didn’t know who Jack was.

  18. maudie-mae says:

    I fly twice a year (I guess four flights since I have to do a round trip) and I hear some rather absurd things on my flights. Once the pilot was giving the list of electronic devices that were not allowed for use during the flight–which included microwave ovens. I was on a puddle jumper flight where there were no flight attendants. The pilot had a curtain between us and him, he turned around, looked me in the eye and said, “Is it too hot back there?” I told him it was and then I chuckled because he asked the MOST hormonal woman on the plane if it was too hot!!!

  19. Mary says:

    Some how your post makes me feel better about my own oddities. I too check the numbers for anything unlucky, have to touch the actual plane to see if there are any “bad vibes”, and like another reader, like knowing the pilot is older than me. Hope you enjoy your visit and have a safe return flight!!

  20. Jessica says:

    That’s a hilarious story! I feel the same way about traveling – anxiety. My husband just doesn’t get it.
    I flew to and from Seattle by myself with my two boys (at the time the older was 21 months and the younger one was 3 months). It was crazy and incredibly exhausting. I’m just glad I made it without throwing a hissy-fit…and my boys did surprisingly well.
    We had no trouble to Seattle. Things went smoothly. And the Seattle airport is excellent!! They were so helpful to me as I went through security with WAY too much stuff for three people. We had a terrible delay in Denver and didn’t arrive at our destination until 2am and then had an hour-long car drive. It was crazy!!
    Anyway, I’m glad you made it safely. Hopefully you can have an anxiety free return!

  21. Amy in West TX says:

    My husband is a pilot. He doesn’t wear stupid ties. Of course, he doesn’t fly for an airline, that helps in the fashion department. I hate flying, but we do it often. I have a standard take-off prayer and a standard landing-thank you prayer. Pilots also have the worst sense of humor and make really bad jokes. I’ve heard most of them!

  22. Heather says:

    I forgot to confess that I, too, touch the plane while boarding. Yes, I thought I was the only one, and I also thought I was getting away with it, sort of pretending to hold it like a rail as I step over the threshold… now I understand the many rolled eyes of the flight attendants. I assumed they were looks of gratitude all this time.

  23. Jame says:

    This would be so hilarious if I didn’t have a huge fear of flying, and trust me… after a 32 Hour Amtrak ride… trains aren’t much better. As I’ve become older, though probably not any wiser, my motto has become “if I can’t drive there, I’m not going.”

  24. wendy says:

    Flying always freaks me out. I like the whole idea of “patting the plane as you get in” I think I’ll try that. I usually ask the air steward as we walk in “the pilots haven’t been drinking have they”, some smile at me, some roll their eyes. Whatever, I want to be sure!!
    Anyway, dropped by to tell you good job on your story submitted in the Nie Nie book. I just read one a day (kinda like truffles, one treat a day)
    p.s. I may have told you, I have 2 neices in Tennessee. (Nashville and Knoxville)

  25. Jen says:

    You preach it sister! I am a ridiculously nervous flier. Stinks that I live in California and every other member of my family lives in the Midwest. Next time I book a flight on Travelocity, I’m gonna request Captain CB Sully Sullenberger. Wonder what tie he wears? 😉

  26. Mary says:

    Aw, poor pilot – he was probably on the fifth of a six-flight day, or who knows! And unfortunately, aviation is not exempt from fashion don’ts! I bet what he lacks in fashion he makes up for in his mad flying skills 🙂 glad it was an uneventful flight!

  27. Jean says:

    Try working for the company that builds the engines, then working for an actual airline and THEN see what you think about flying – ignorance is bliss… And I’m pretty sure that the pilot was out of uniform w/his goofy tie – that alone would make me nervous! Glad you had a good time, and that you made it there & back in one piece! (Flying is actually safer than driving, but it’s hard to convince people of that, even with all of the statistics.)

  28. laurie sigel says:

    I am one that also ALWAYS touches the outside of the plane as I board, like you, just a loving little pat. I’m surprised to see there are others!

  29. Suz says:

    I’m right there with you babe! I flew last year for the first time in over 10 yrs and it took Disney World on the other end of the trip to get me in the air.
    We went again this year, they had some great deals for value season, and Hubby didn’t even mention flying… said we would drive this time. Then after we booked the room, he started talking flying. I had to say “Oh no Honey! Not this time!”
    Definately not something I enjoy to say the least! Hope you had a good time on your trip!

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