Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Flying

If you are a loyal consumed reader, then you've noticed that the posting has been sporadic of late. I'm predicting that this has caused you some distress, that you've perhaps had to retreat to a quiet place, maybe do some breathing exercises, perhaps consume massive amounts of food that is bad for you. I understand all that; in fact, I think I've done all of the preceding lately. I retreated to a quiet place, being Maine; consumed massive amounts of food while at home, including Mom's fabulous spaghetti and her delightful blueberry cake; and done--okay, so I haven't done any breathing exercises. I could have if I wanted to, though.

Actually, wait a minute. I've flown four times in the last month. It's been a little crazy. And during those flights, I did some breathing exercises, albeit very restrained ones. I inhaled air to keep my ears from popping. So there you go. That said, I found that though these exercises brought me some measure of comfort, they did little to affect my greater reality, namely, that I was on a huge beast of burden, my life in the hands of a couple of strangers, my actions directed by their commands. That reality is a sobering one, as much so as the pre-flight safety "instructions" are amusing. Why are they amusing, you ask? Because the attendants do very funny things with their hands and arms that I cannot follow. For example, I'm glad the planes I flew on didn't go down, cause I certainly wasn't ready to manipulate the oxygen-provider thingy. The attendant demonstrated the needed action so quickly the naked eye didn't follow. I also enjoy the drafting of passengers to help in case the emergency exits were needed. Actual exchange between stewardess and passenger: "Are you able and willing to serve if needed, sir? Yes, able and willing." Reminiscent of a commander sturdying his troops in the moment of battle, the attendant revealed her iron resolve to fulfill emergency exit protocol. Then she handed out little pretzels, and wouldn't give me a granola bar. Hmmph. Neither willing, nor able, I suppose.

The last thing I'll mention about my recent flying experience relates to the landing of planes. At that moment, when the Southwest puddle-jumper bounces on the tarmac, one is reminded that the plane is not an organic entity, dispensing little pretzels and smiles at a button's pressing. Rather, the plane is a metallic animal, foreign, unpredictable, capable of killing you. Kind of like the tiger at the zoo. It looks nice, and calm, and then--BOOM--you're without an appendage. On planes, mortality is your constant seat companion. That's cool, cause whenever God wants me to go, I'm able and willing to go. That is one pledge that I can definitely keep.


Anonymous kyle said...

I often sit in the exit row and I've spent a lot of time contemplating whether I will hoist the door through the openning and set it on the seat beside me, or if I will throw it overboard. I'm going with overboard. I also wonder if the guy sitting next to me is going to panick or if he can be my steady leutenant as we lead the passengers to safety. Then I regret that I never joined the boy scouts growing up, and worry that I'll probably lead the passengers to a long and painful death.

11:35 PM  

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