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Favorite Things Friday: Not

I’m getting ready to do one of my least-favorite things: Fly. I am such a terrible flier that I once stood up and screamed, “STOP THE PLANE!” while it was rolling down the runway at JFK here in New York. I was on my way to a big trade show. I was a reporter at PC Magazine at the time. All dressed up in my new black suit. Carrying a briefcase. Sitting in business class no less! Do you know what they do when you make such a spectacle of yourself? THEY STOP THE PLANE!

And then the flight attendants gather around you. (There were many of them because it was a BIG plane.) Then they bring the pilots out of their cabin to talk to you. They don’t want to have to go all the way back to the gate; They’re hoping they can convince you to stay on the plane. The pilot shows you a photo of his kids while trying to talk to you through your tears. Then he hands it to you and tells you you can hold it the entire flight. As a reminder that he’s going to be super-safe so he can go back to his kids. And then they move you back into coach where a bunch of flight attendants and pilots are sitting flying to work on the West Coast. They calm you down. They make you sit in between a nice female flight attendant and a nice male attendant. By this time the rest of the plane is flat out pissed. And staring. And grumbling. But you are convinced. Sort of. Maybe you can do it. Maybe. (Oh, but it’s a six-hour flight. HOW can I do it?!?) So you sit there listening as Left Attendant and Right Attendant give you a running commentary. “Okay, so that noise is the engine revving up.” “Oh, that’s just the landing gear starting to come up.” “That bell means the flight attendants can get up and start preparing the cabin for food service.” (Back then you got dinner on a cross-country flight.) They hold your hand and talk to you. They talk about how safe flying is. They try and make you laugh. And somehow you get through it. You’re on the West Coast. When you land your VERY first appointment at one of the most fun trade shows EVER — CES — is with someone who shakes your hand and goes, “Hey, I know you! You were on my plane from New York!” And then you sigh. What else can you do?

Crazy, right? Can I tell you why I am afraid? My mom took us to DisneyWorld right after my dad died and cried the entire trip. Traumatic enough, but then on the way home we circled over New York for HOURS. My mom started losing it. Between my mom and the actual motion of the plane –SHARP turns around LaGuardia Airport — I couldn’t help it. I was violently sick. A six-year-old with no one to take care of her, completely out of control. Subsequent vacations and flights always sucked, too. Family fist fights. Getting sent to an aunt’s house in South Carolina for six weeks because there was no one to take care of us. And turbulence. Always turbulence when we got into the sky. Not to mention my own insanity: crying, shaking, sobbing, and being completely embarrassing. Ask my husband about the poor guy who got an extra special security detail because I thought he was a terrorist. Or the friends who refused to sit by us because they were too embarrassed. It’s that bad.

Okay, you might think. All that was a long time ago. You’re an adult now. Get over it. I wish I could. Oh, how I wish I could. I am TRYING. I swear. I swear. Anyway, if you see me walking on a plane any time soon, please forgive me in advance. I may cause a scene. I’ll try really hard to hold it together. And if not there’s always plan B. “STOP THE PLANE!!!”

8 Responses to “Favorite Things Friday: Not”

  1. Fran says:

    How awful for you! I’m one of those weird people that enjoy flying so I don’t have much advice to offer. At least you understand what your fear stems from and that’s a big step towards conquering it. I applaud you for still getting on the plane.

  2. Amy says:

    I understand the fear of flying, my husband has it!! He is good about keeping it together on the plane. (there are a lot of white knuckles though.) For him it is the fear of a plane crashing, he would rather drive just about anywhere. In fact, we took our first family trip to Disney in October, we drove to VA and then took the train. All five of us crammed into our little minvan for 13 hrs down and 10hrs back!! (That was the time from MA to VA) I love my husband really I do, but I promised if we ever go again, I would be more than happy to let him drive, I would take the kids and fly.

  3. Babette says:

    Oh, my sympathies, but you really had me laughing…I hope you laughed as you wrote this. But I am wondering–drugs? Won’t that help?

    Me? I hate to fly because THE AIRLINES TREAT ME LIKE DIRT. Not because i have any fear of it. This year, I am going places (when I can) by train and I can’t wait! how much fun will this be? Well, we’ll see, right? These days most of my trips by plane (bec. you have to gt there early to park–earlier for those cheap long-term lots, get thru security, make a connection (if, like me, you fly cheap), get the rental and get there in the end…recenlty, I could have about made the same time as flying…on a 10-hour drive…
    I hate to fly.

  4. I am sorry; I had to laugh, too. I do really feel for you, it must be awful, but the thought of making a spectacle out of yourself only then to bump into someone who witnessed your total meltdown is too cringe-makingly embarrassing (newly coined phrase), that I am actually still smiling… Sorry – I am German, we have this warped sense of humour, or as most people would put it, no sense of humour…
    Well written and thanks for sharing!

  5. MarthaandMe says:

    Oh wow, no wonder you don’t like flying. I’m sorry it’s so traumatic for you. My son is a nervous flyer and I always hold his hand on takeoff and landing and talk to him for days before the flight about how safe it is. And that is pretty laughable since last year a plane crashed IN OUR TOWN. Just over a mile away from our house. Everyone died. This is the flight outside of Buffalo that led to the legislation that is just being passed about commuter airlines. Ok, I probably shouldn’t have brought up this topic with you – oops, sorry! I know the new rules will make me feel safer. For me, flying is something to just get through without thinking about it if I can manage it. Wishing you a happy and comfortable flight!

  6. kb says:

    I was laughing while writing this. Looking back it was just such a surreal moment in time. And I left out the part where my friend, when we were flying to Disney all together, threatened to bring a dart gun on the flight to ping me in the neck if I got unruly. LOL.

    –KB

  7. kb says:

    I seem to have an odd chemical make up. I don’t react well to any type of drugs. I can’t even drink alcohol. I’m hoping a road trip is in our immediate future. I don’t feel like flying for at least a year.

    –KB

  8. kb says:

    Oh, that’s a long drive! I’m thinking if you make it fun and build stops into the drive it might be considered part of the vacation?!? At least that’s how I am going to pitch our next trip to my husband! LOL.

    –KB

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