Sunday, June 15, 2008
sit back, relax, and enjoy the fright
until i go to flight school, aeronautical engineering college, or complete a rotation in psychiatry in order to prescribe myself a bevy of percocet and it's anxiolytic cousins, flying in an aeroplane will never be an experience where i do not lose a couple of layers of skin around my cuticles (if cold cabin air didn't warrant closed toed shoes i would definitely move on to my feet).
i love it when people dispense advice, obviously things i have never possibly considered in my 32 years of commuting via jet plane.
"go to sleep": presumably, the idea being that i would sleep through turbulence. do these people never experience that terrible tripping/falling sensation as they are about to fall into a deep slumber? it is extremely distressing to go from a state of complete relaxation to one of panic. i feel a more efficient use of my time is to maintain a baseline of elevated anxiety that can move directly to panic within the space of 5,000 feet.
"watch a movie": this is fine if it's a romantic comedy with kate hudson or drew barrymore. however, anything featuring genetically engineered sharks trying to hunt down l.l. cool j, or tom hanks being fired at from behind enemy lines only serves to escalate my terror. and how am i supposed to detect changes in aeroplane noises if it is drowned out by bruce willis leaping out of an exploding building?
"listen to your ipod": i run to my music, i am not about to associate 80's madonna, jack johnson, or chumbawumba with a near miss plane collision.
"read a book, you love to read": reading requires concentration and focus, i cannot concentrate on keeping the plane up in the air/watch for dodgey looking passengers up to no good/fully engage my olfactory senses to detect any burning odours/obsess about lightning storms/birds flying into the engines/wings malfunctioning/pilots malfunctioning, if i am immersed in j.k. rowling's latest offering. air travel means catering to the attention requirements of alice in wonderland, where trashy magazines, featuring pictures of celebrity cellulite are the only option.
in addition to a sound aircraft, i have specific expectations from the pilot and first officer. while a clean mental health record and no "one for the road" martini habit is a given, i also need them to prepare me the way one does when transitioning a small child, or grown adult with a cognitive disability. prior to departure, the forecasted weather patterns and air pressure should be translated into if/when/how much turbulence is expected. i also need to be reassuringly notified with more than just a "ping" of the seatbelt sign coming on. if turbulence does continue, then i require a time estimate and accompanying pledge that my trusty flighy crew are ascending to try and find some "smoother air". i do not need the captain to be the great and silent wizard behind the curtain, or bullet proof/terrorist repelling door.
i used to be able to distract myself with in-flight cabin service, however this has now dwindled to no pretzels, and drinks having to be solicited via the call button. in lieu of not having friends or family that i have not given permanent bruising to their forearms, i typically require a narcissistic and highly sociable seatmate with negligible oral hygiene, who is willing to tell me fascinating stories about their life, for up to 5 hours at a time.