No, I'm not quitting AN. I'm just dying today, that's all. At least that's my assumption every time I have to get on an airplane. Today I fly to Phoenix, hoping to enjoy three days of Spring Training in the off chance that my plane actually lands on the intended runway, although I have no idea why it would.
As you may have guessed by now, I have an intense fear of flying--which, when you get down to it, is mostly an intense fear of crashing. Flying, to me, is like being a detective, because I wind up spending the whole flight convinced that every little noise somehow relates to the plane's imminent malfunctioning. You would think I must have a clue as to what landing gear is supposed to sound like when it's tested. In fact, I have absolutely no idea; I'm just always sure it wasn't supposed to sound like that.
So granted, a lot of it is my own private neurosis, but the airlines don't exactly inspire my confidence either. My panic usually begins while I'm waiting for the plane to take off and I try to soothe myself with music, only to discover that the headphones have a short in them. So now I'm thinking, "Oh crap: this is the airline's standard for electronic functioning?" Then the flight attendants start to go over the safety instructions, and they always begin by showing everyone how to buckle a seat belt. Now I'm thinking, "Oh crap: this is what the airline considers to be a normal level of mechanical competence?" I'm pretty much hysterical at this point, until my overdose of sedatives kicks in. ("Nervous about flying? Ask your doctor if 75 milligrams of Valium is right for you.")
Personally, if I ran an airline I would insist that my flight attendants be far more honest and realistic with the passengers. "Ladies and gentlemen," they would begin with a friendly and reassuring smile, "having herded far too many of you into far too small a space, we will now be feeding you lots of peanuts. If there's anything we can do to make you feel any more like an elephant, please don't hesitate to ask." The safety information would be no-nonsense, with instructions like, "Ladies and gentlemen, the seat belt is like every seat belt you've ever used. If you don't know how to fasten one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unescorted." Just level with us. Tell us that in the event of a water landing, the seat cushion should really be used to scribble out a quick will. Explain that if we lose cabin pressure, the bad news is that we will undoubtedly plummet to a fiery death, but the good news is that thanks to the oxygen masks, each of us will go out looking a little bit like a duck. Acknowledge that we will probably be guided to the runway by a grade-school dropout who came to work high, but promise us that the pilot is just sober enough to remember that if he sees three runways he should probably aim for the middle one.
OK, time to pop a few downers and hope that my flights to and from Phoenix are relatively crash free, in which case I'll be sure to report in next Friday. And don't worry, Cindi and I are taking separate flights to increase the odds that there is someone to write for AN on the Fridays and Saturdays to come.