Have you ever really taken a second to think about flying? For some, it is an everyday occurrence… pilots who enter the cockpit like they are entering a Honda, VW or Mustang. Flight attendants who serve us drinks and blue chips like they are waiting tables at the local pub…. and of course let’s not forget those pesky businessmen who feel like they are entitled to keep their blackberry or ipad on, even when the flight attendant has asked them to turn it off, more than once, like they are above the rules. I want to scream at them and tell them that it is going to be their fault when we all go plunging 30,000 feet to our fiery deaths. But of course, I don’t. I sit quietly giving Pat dagger eyes, that scream “…aren’t you going to say something!!!”
Although you are probably thinking, ” So what? This isn’t new – so many people are afraid to fly….” I’ll stop you right there and tell you that I am a very rare breed of an anxious flyer. My anxiety and obsessive behavior starts as soon as the tickets are booked. I count the days, not because I am excited about the upcoming trip (which I am), but because I am constantly thinking that these are the last days I have. The day of the flight is of course the worst and as soon as we get to the airport it is just a continuous downward spiral until I am having a complete and utter meltdown. Poor pat.
As soon as we get through security, the questions begin. If I can see the plane, the first ones have to do with how it looks. “Do the tires look flat?” Why is there an indent around the wing, is it supposed to be like that?” “It looks like there is a hole on the tail, don’t you see it?” “The plane looks old, doesn’t it? Do you think it is old? How old? When do you think the last maintenance check was…?” These go on and on. Alcohol helps, some, but not a lot.
Fast forward to 20 minutes before boarding. I start calling and texting everyone I know to tell them I love them. My parents get the brunt of this as I continuously ask them over and over again if they think it is going to be OK. They of course think it is going to be just fine and tell me over and over again how safe flying is compared to driving. This doesn’t help. The only thing I can think of is the Air France flight that basically belly-flopped into the ocean. You remember the one, it basically just split apart in mid-air. Oh happy thoughts…
I blame the media. I mean, why do reporters always start by saying.. “the ill-fated or doomed flight…” They make it sound like the plane was going down no matter what and the poor passengers were completely oblivious to the whole thing.
Now, you are probably thinking, why don’t you take medication that knocks you out? I do take something now, by the way, with the urging of my friends, family, and poor strangers who have had to endure my white-knuckle grip and earth shattering sobs for an entire flight (not joking). Why didn’t I take it before? I’m sure there are some logical answers, which could include:
- I don’t want to feel doped-up. True, but that’s not it.
- I’m nervous about possible side-effects. What happens if they make me sick? True, again, but no.
- I don’t want to feel tired once I arrive at my destination. Again, yes, but no, not that either.
My reasoning comes directly from my obsessive compulsive thoughts. I don’t want to take medication because I want to know if the plane is going down. Sick, right? Yea, I know. But I still feel that way. I hate that I have absolutely no control once those cabin doors are closed. As passengers, we have no control. Who is to say that this pilot(s) is not having a horrible day. Maybe their girlfriend/boyfriend just left them or their dog just died. Maybe he/she went out with the beautiful/handsome flight attendants for an all-night rager with Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and of course good old Jose Cuervo. He is always the life of the party after all. I mean we’ve all made bad decisions, but most of us can have an extra cup of coffee and let the calls go to voicemail if we are having an off-day. Pilots? What do they do?
So, this is just a glimpse into what I think about when I plan a trip. I have been known to beg, plead really, with people to road trip with me. I mean who doesn’t want to drive 15 hours to Louisville for a three-day conference? I know I do.
All and all, my parents are probably right. Flying is probably the safest way to travel. I mean 769 million people do it every year… but I can tell you right now, I will never, ever, feel comfortable with being in something that resembles a tin can flying 30,000 feet in the air. I mean really? Does that sound safe?
PS- to one of my best friends, Dani, I give you so much credit for the work you do. I can’t imagine having to deal with people like me every day on flights. You are the best. Love and miss you- and as always-fly safe.
Photo Diary: Sometime the trip is totally worth the anxiety in this case- it definitely was!