To write a book on the tsunami I had to fly to American Samoa several times. On a little plane. I hate flying. On big planes or little ones. When I fly…
1.I look around at the people Im boarding the plane with. These could be the people that I spend my last hour on earth with. These are the people, I could fall into the ocean with and die. Our grainy passport pictures could be lined up next to each other on the list of missing and LOST (hopefully on an island with incredibly dreamy people like Sawyer…) I furtively examine them. Who do I want to sit next to? Who looks like they could be the sort of person who will come back for me when im stuck in a smushed seat and cant undo my seatbelt and water is pouring in the windows? Who looks like they are strong enough to shove open the emergency exit door when it jams and we cant get out? That’s the person I want to be sitting next to.
2.I check out the pilots. Are they young? If so that could be good. It means they are well trained in all the latest aviation tricks and techniques. Like how to make sure Lani survives this plane ride. But it could also be BAD. Young could mean they are inexperienced. Fresh. Wet behind the ears. It means they never watched Tom Cruise in Top Gun. So when the navigation equipment fails they will panic and freak out. They might even cry and shut their eyes hoping for a miracle. (which is what I will be doing.) Sometimes, they are so young that they are my ex-students. Then its serious panic attack time. Fear grips me with cold vice-like hands. Choking me. My brain screams – how could that kid possibly fly this plane? I taught him…English. What the heck does he know about aerial manipulations? He would cut maths to play volleyball. Or to go kiss his girlfriend behind the tennis courts. How the hell could he possibly know enough to get me to my destination alive?
If the pilot is old then it could be good thing. It means he’s seen it all. He can do this job with his eyes shut. In his sleep. Heck he could probably fly the plane with one foot. While knitting. And listening to Bon Jovi. But then again, it could be bad. Very very bad. Im ageist – cant you tell? Old means he might be careless. Thinks he knows it all so he can take shortcuts. Catch a nap when we’re not looking. Yep. Old pilot could be very bad.
3.I ponder very seriously, where I should sit. In the front. Right by the pilots so I can eavesdrop and know when they are quietly discussing parachuting out because the plane’s going down and they have no idea how to stop it? Or in the back because when the plane crashes, logic says, the nose will hit the ground first and maybe, the back seat passengers will make it? How about in the middle – closest to the escape exits? But then that’s usually right over the engines. And when they kaboom…well u get the picture.
4.I choose my clothes carefully. Never wear high heels. Totally dumb. How can you exit a plane and hit the ground running in stilettos? Nobody would let you into the inflatable boat, You might pop peoples lifejackets. Flats are best. Sandals are better. Easy to kick off if you have to swim.
Never wear a mini skirt. Or a tight come-hither-I-am-incredibly-sexy dress. Have you tried crawling through debris in one of those? I know that skanky girl on Transformers does it but then we are not Megan Fox hired to ensure hormonal males everywhere watch a movie. No. We are women on a plane that will never (no matter how hard you wish it) turn into a Bumblebee that croons love songs and skips you to safety. Wear sensible clothes. And try to make sure they are not flammable fabrics…
5. I read the safety instruction sheets. Every time. Even if it makes me look like an idiot who has never flown before. Its like studying for an exam. Aint no point doin it when the exams on….when the plane is spiraling out of control is NOT the time to check…hmmm, now where is that life jacket kept again? And how do you open that door?
6. I try to avoid going to the bathroom. You don’t want to take that seat belt off. Do you know how many pockets of turbulence the plane flies through? That could suddenly slam your head on the ceiling, breaking your neck, dislocating your vertebrae, or just plain ole scaring the heck out of you? No. Never get out of your seat to wander around. That’s just steeewpid. Like those chicks in horror movies who hear something spooky and then they go looking for the source of the spook. DUH! Stay in your seat. Locked in. Till the plane lands and you can scuttle off to safety.
7.I always smile and be very nice to the flight crew. They are your lifeline. They know where all the best escape spots are. (they could also spit in your drink if you were horribly mean to them…but then my friend is a flight attendant and i kNOW she would never do that!) If youre mean to them, they might feel less likely inclined to wake you up. When oxygen is running low in the cabin.
These are a few of the things i think about when i fly. Every time the plane lands. And i am alive. I give thanks. And exit the plane with prayers of gratitude winging their way heavenward. I can live another day.
So…please dont make the mistake of asking me “how was your flight?” Because, trust me – you dont want to know whats been going on in my head.