What is it about flying that makes me so fearful? Oh, that's right...everything. From terrorism to mechanical problems...my heart races from the minute I wake up on the day of the flight, until feet on the ground at my destination. Usually people-watching at the airport takes my mind off of the whole flying experience. But not this time!
As I was sitting at my gate waiting to board my plane, I tried to calm myself as best I could: drinking coffee, watching the people, and playing brick breaker on my phone. They started calling groups to board, but I don’t think organizing into groups really has made any difference in moving the line along more quickly. You still have those people who stand in the aisle, putting their carry-on in the overhead rack, then deciding they need some article out of it, but remain standing in the aisle while they open it, looking for what they need, closing it back up and putting it back up there. Then they have to turn it around eighteen different ways to be sure it fits correctly. The groups shouldn't be made according to who made their reservation first; they should be based on IQ. All the idiots to the back of the line.
We have all had our share of horror stories about the person next to us on the plane, but I had never experienced one like this last one. Not only was he far from petite, but not the most aromatic, either. I reached up to the air vent and blasted it so that it was directly shooting towards my nostrils. I was gasping for air but preferred to have trouble breathing the air from the vents than the air from his breath and arm pits. As I sat there with my chest heaving, I took out my book to read. As soon as I started reading, Mr. Arm Pit Breath decided to strike up a conversation. Seriously? He had 20 minutes prior to that to get in the small talk. “Where’re you headed?” “To Iowa. My company headquarters is there”. “Oh, what do you do?” and after 15 minutes of the question/answer part of the flight I decided to put an end to that. “I’m really sorry, but I’m in a very exciting part of my book and would love to get back to it. I hope you don’t mind.” “No, not at all. You may want to turn it right side up though.”
A half hour into the flight, the attendants were rolling the drink cart that blocks the aisle from every full bladder needing to relieve themselves. Mr. Smelly Pits ordered a mixed drink on ice and immediately started slurping. One of my biggest pet peeves (just one of them…I do have quite a few that I did experience on that flight alone). Slurping……….oh my god. And then the ice cube jiggling. I didn’t know how I was going to contain myself from saying something, but I did. I put my headphones on and avoided eye contact so as not to drive myself up the wall and out the emergency exit. I had to keep upping the volume on my ipod, because if I heard one more slurp or jiggle, I would have grabbed the drink and finished it myself just to end the torture.
About an hour into the flight, they were serving that rubbery, processed crap they call food. I had brought my own snacks to avoid intestinal problems, but Mr. Slurp-All had ordered airplane food. Actually, he ordered two servings of airplane food. One for him. And one for him. That would be two for him. And then he proceeded to smack his lips when chewing. Are you frickin’ kidding me? By that time, my volume was so loud on my ipod I thought I was going to burst an ear drum. I decided to eat my chips so that the crunching in my own head would drown out the lip smacking, drink slurping, ice jiggling, arm pit smelling, putrid breath, larger-than-life man next to me.
He managed to finish his food in about 12 minutes and decided to take a snooze. Thank goodness. Now maybe I could get some of my own snoozin’ in. Who was I kidding? Of course I couldn’t because the guttural sounds emanating from his flapping uvula and enormous nose holes were deafening. Even over the sound of the engines, this man had louder noises coming from his body than fighter jets flying over a war zone. And not only were sounds emanating, but I believe some noxious gasses were being blown out of another orifice, if you know what I mean. But somehow I managed to fall asleep only to be awakened by the pilot making an announcement.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. You may have noticed the propeller on the right wing is not functioning correctly.”
I’m sorry……..WHAT!?! Of course I didn’t notice. Who am I? Amelia Earhart? How the f**k would I notice that a propeller is not functioning correctly? And why are you telling us this? Wouldn’t it just be better to keep this information to yourself and just land the frickin’ plane somewhere without alarming 200 passengers?
“We are not sure what the problem is but we will be turning the aircraft around and stopping at Midway Airport to get it checked out”.
Really? You’re not sure what the problem is? Then how the f**k did you expect US to know there was a problem? My heart was pounding out of my chest, my blood pressure was soaring, and I was in a state of panic. I looked around and everyone else was as calm as can be. Huh? I didn’t get it. Did they not hear the same pilot I just heard? Why was I the only one that seemed to be just a tad bit disturbed by this news?
My drink slurping, lip smacking, arm pit smelling, farting snorer of a neighbor slept through this whole episode. I couldn’t even lean on him for comfort. Not that I would literally want to lean on him, but it would have been nice to have someone to talk me through this.
“Hello again ladies and gentlemen. We are now descending into Midway Airport. Thank you for your patience. You will be departing the aircraft and we will advise you when it is safe to get back on board to continue into Cedar Rapids.”
Are you out of your f**king mind? There’s no way I’m getting back on that plane. You can keep my luggage. You can keep the money I paid for the ticket. You can keep my neighbor Mr. Shrek. But me? I don’t think so.
My wobbly legs barely got me off the airplane steps and onto the runway. This airport was so small that they didn’t have a jetway. We walked from the plane to the terminal and I just sat for a few minutes, trying to calm myself now that I was on solid ground, figuring out my next move. I checked out other airlines and flights and made a decision.
Did I mention how luxurious the Greyhound bus line is? And they depart Midway Airport every hour and stop in Cedar Rapids. I slept like a baby the whole way there.