For some, nothing could be as nerve-racking as being in an airplane
I took the last flight of stairs as if I was heading to my execution. I managed a wobbly smile at the chirpy-looking attendant situated at the entryway.
"Seat number, please?"
"69b," I mumbled hollowly and listened as if the basis of my life depended on it when she pointed out my seat. My heart was beating like a drum, my head was pounding and my throat was terribly dry. I hated flying. Just as much as I hated scrubbing toilets and getting a root canal. But it couldn't be helped, it wasn't like I could hire a taxi from Wisconsin to Alberta. But then I should have gone for a train, or a night bus. Or a ship. Anything that stayed at ground level.
Why did I allow myself to be talked into going by air? Why? Why?
It was a middle seat. I didn't like that, but I squeezed past someone in charcoal suit and quickly settled. On my right, where the occupant would enjoy the wondrous view of tiny green trees, blue seas and floating clouds was a sixtyish ash-blond woman. I didn't envy her. But she didn't look bothered either, she busied herself with pulling out pamphlets after pamphlets from a brown bag. And on my left was, of course, Charcoal suit. He was a young, serious looking man. Serious haircut, serious suit, serious no-nonsense face. He had already settled and was browsing through a thick serious looking novel. Hr had to be in the army, I concluded as I tried to settle myself too.
"...We remind you that this is a non-smoking flight..."
I couldn't touch a cigarette even if my life depended on it. Infact, I left my packs of Marlboro at my apartment because I didn't want to tempt them into catching fire while we were airborne. I would buy gazillion packets, when I got to Alberta. But now, it's better I didn't tempt fate. I listened to the rest of the announcement and was pleased to realise I had complied to most of them before even getting on board. I tried telling my heart to relax, but it had a mind of its own and contented itself with banging at the base of my throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen, my name is David Lewis and I'm your Chief flight attendant. On behalf of Captain Rintoko Guz and the entire crew..."
Rintoko Guz?! What sort of name is that? Captain's should have serious sturdy names like John, or Thomas or Peter. I frowned and looked around to see if people shared in my agitation.. No one. Then I heard 'Fasten your seatbelt line again'. In a flurry of action, I pulled and tugged my seatbelt to be sure it was properly fastened.,
"First time?" The pamphlet woman turned to me, her eyes were kind and sympathetic.
I gave a small tiny nod. "Y-yes," which was a lie. This would be my eight time in this large oppressive edifice, but hell would have to cool over before I admitted it to anyone - strangers that is. It's always my first time, so they can accommodate my idiosyncrasies with a bit of kindness.
"Don't worry, it's usually always like this the first time. But be assured, we're in safe hands. Here," She handed one of the pamphlets to me. "That should keep you busy for a while. My name's Van."
"Thanks, I'm Sophie," I mumble as I turn the leaflet over in my hand. It was Jehovah's witness manual to a happy home. I was pretending to read the paper when I heard a whirring sound, and then the revving of engines as the plane began to move forward. I heard lots of sounds during our ascent period and I desperately hoped none of them was the sound of the pilot snoring in the cockpit or a wing cracking. I closed my eyes (pamphlet forgotten) and recited twenty-one thousand hail Mary's.
The noise was much for about twenty minutes, then gradually, finally, the noise lessened and all that remained was a quiet humming sound.
First major hurdle crossed. Seventy-Eight more to go.
I was able to close my eyes and surprisingly even fall asleep. But my eyes shot open when I heard another sound from the overhead speakers
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking..."
"What?! What?" I turn around frantically. The captain wasn't supposed to speak during a flight. The only time he was allowed was at the beginning or the end when he was announcing take off or landing. Talking in between usually signified some sort of calamity. Like turbulence or bumps in the sky or bad vision. I started searching for the life vests, I read it was usually under the seat, my breath coming in fast, hard gasps. I'm going to die, I thought, I'm going to die. I'll never get married or have children or grandchildren.
And just like that, I began to cry. Hot, spurty tears.
Van was tapping me and saying something. But i couldn't hear her. I kept on saying 'Gotta get the vest. Gotta get the vest' Finally, Charcoal suit had enough of my hysterics and yanked me up. His eyes were cold, angry slits.
"We're not crashing, you psycho," He hissed. "That was the announcement for the local time and temperature at our destination airport,"
"And time left till arrival," Van added. She was a lot nicer than Charcoal Suit. "We're almost there, honey.'
"Would you like some tea?" She asked again, softly.
Mortified beyond repair, I shook my head. I'd probably slept for three hours.
We landed forty-five minutes later, and I couldn't get out of the plane fast enough. Needless to say, that would be my last attempt at entering a plane.