February 24, 2011

Fact #228: Beautiful

This is gonna be another post about how much I hate to fly. If you're sick of hearing about it, just look at this:


Now on to the serious business of my irrational fear of flying.

I flew back from California on Monday night, and it went a little something like this:

The flight is scheduled to land at 11:59 (just a minute before my birthday!), but before we take off the pilot tells us that the winds are in our favor and we'll get in around 11:30. Super sweet. So I try to settle in. I watch an episode of Modern Family. I listen to The Hunger Games on my iPod. I watch a ridiculous movie called Salt.

But I don't do any one of those things for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time. I watch part of the movie and think, "Nope, this isn't working." So I listen to my iPod. "Nope, not working either." Of course, nothing really works because the only thing I really want is to be on solid ground.

Towards the end, I start getting super antsy from the horrible combination of rising panic and growing boredom. I'm literally counting down the minutes until 11:30.

Then, 10 minutes before we're supposed to be on the ground, the pilot makes an announcement that it's snowing too hard in Pittsburgh -- they cleared a runway for planes to take off, but haven't gotten one clear for planes to land yet.

He says they'll have a runway clear in about an hour and a half, but we don't have enough gas to just circle and wait. So we're being diverted to Buffalo. Literally, I swear he says, "We've got enough fuel left for about 30 minutes, and Buffalo's about 30 minutes away." About??? This is no time for 'about', sir!

Ten minutes later, as I'm envisioning us coasting into Buffalo on fumes, the pilot comes on again and says we get to go back to Pittsburgh, apparently now they think the runways are okay. Okay??? About??? Are these technical terms?

So we turn around and head back to Pittsburgh. By this point I'm pretty certain I'm going to die.

It doesn't help when I plug my headphones into the armrest and tune in to channel 9 (the open channel between the control tower and the planes) only to hear the control tower tell the pilot that, "braking action on the runway is nil." So what should we use to stop, then? The side of a building???

It also doesn't help that when the flight attendant tells us to put our tray tables up and all that, she also adds, "in the event of an emergency evacuation, please leave all of your carry-on baggage behind." Why, is there going to be an emergency evacuation???

Just in case, I put my phone and my wallet in my pocket so that in the unlikely event I survive the crash, I can call for help and then go get a beer.

I look at the girl sleeping next to me and want to punch her in the face for being able to sleep through this.

Then I look out the window.

We're right above the clouds, so it's totally clear. The moon is shining so bright in the sky, and it reflects off the tops of the fluffy clouds. It's so peaceful and beautiful. It's like the magic carpet ride in Aladdin. Only nobody drew this, it's real. I'm flying up in the sky and I get to see what the moonlight looks like on the tops of the clouds.

It's amazing.

It's breathtaking.

But I still hate flying.

Epilogue: We land just fine and everybody applauds. Then I trudge through the parking lot to my car, which takes me forever to find because it's buried in snow. Then I dig my car out of a giant snow drift. Then I drive home from the airport at 1 o'clock in the morning going 20 miles an hour because the roads are so bad. But I do all that with a smile on my face. Because at least I'm on the ground.

Til tomorrow!

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