Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

I don’t fly much. It’s rare if I get up in the air once every year or two.

So when I do hop a flight, I pay attention. To people, things, conversations, etc. Here are a few observations from a plane to Las Vegas last weekend.

• I was seated in an exit row on both flights, which got me approximately two miles of leg room. At no extra charge!

When the flight attendant came and asked if I accepted the responsibilities of sitting in an exit row, I wanted to reply, “You mean the “responsibility” of stretching my legs all the way out every five minutes so I don’t cramp up on the four-hour flight? Yes! Absolutely!”

One lady on the trip home apparently didn’t want exit row responsibilities, because as she switched places with another passenger, she said, “That just creeps me out!”

• Perhaps it’s a sign of my simple mind, but it’s still almost magical to me that when a behemoth of a vehicle like that gets up to a certain speed, the ground slowly drops away and off we soar into the clouds. All by adjusting a couple little flappy things on the wings. (Probably has something to do with those big engines, too, right?)

• Before we left the runway, one of the passengers closed her window shade and leaned against the inside wall of the airplane, and a flight attendant said, “Ma’am, we ask that you keep your window shade up during takeoff.”

Which made me immediately wonder to myself, “If that’s so the pilot can turn around and check his blind spot for runway traffic, I think maybe I’ll drive.”

• On a related note, after we were up in the air, the pilot announced over the speaker that there were some signs of turbulence ahead, “...but we’re just going to keep our fingers crossed and hope that it isn’t too severe.”

Wait, what? First we have blind spots, now we have our “fingers crossed”? Where did I put my car keys??

• As we flew, I determined that the term “turbulence” as it relates to ground travel is akin to driving an Amish buggy down an old cobblestone street. You might get jostled and bumped around a bit, but for the most part it’s no big deal.

Of course, in an Amish buggy, you don’t get that occasional dip that makes you wonder if the pilot is in the cockpit using the joystick that controls the plane to play a video game.

• It seems as though many passengers use a flight as an opportunity to start a new book, as all readers in my vicinity, without exception, were no further than page 20 as we began our flight.

• When it comes to seatmates, it helps if you feel at least somewhat comfortable being near them. Because while I’m of a certain size in which I fill my seat rather completely, and the lady next to me was of generally the same size, when we both leaned back to catch some high-altitude Z’s, it almost felt as if we were, um...cuddling.

We’ve since become a couple that argues about who gets to use the arm rest.

• The girl in front of me didn’t need to request a pillow to be comfortable. She just used her boyfriend/husband’s shoulder. The whole...way...out. (Hope he wasn’t pitching in a big game last weekend.)

• As the beverage cart passes up and down the aisle, it inadvertently bumps shoulders, elbows, etc., and during one pass, the flight attendant said, “Sorry. Sorry! Wide load!” (insert dramatic pause here) “The cart! I mean the cart!” she said, providing a free chuckle.

• Safety note: When using the airplane bathroom, please be sure that all ties, necklaces, shoestrings and hanging appendages are firmly secured before flushing the toilet. Or you might just get sucked right out of the plane!

As we descended upon Las Vegas, looking out the window at Lake Mead and the natural landscape below us, seeing the city in the distance becoming more defined, I wondered how much richer I would be on the return flight five days later.

Answer? Much. So much richer. For the experience.

The wallet...that’s another story.

“The airplane stays up because
it doesn’t have the time to fall.”
—Orville Wright


  1. behemoth. nice. i agree that this--flight-- is most magical (and terrifying).

    i love your turbulence analogy here, and i'll try to remember it next time i'm on a plane and death-gripping the arm rests as the behemoth (or tiny regional jet as my case so often is) lurches in the sky (terrifying). somehow an amish buggy just sounds so much nicer and safer, and, well, good.

    the ending really works--the third to last paragraph is my favorite kind of sentence (long and detailed). and then you end with a touch of humor and a simple statement...and an ellipsis. niiiice.

  2. There are probably some stats somewhere, dharmagirl, that state how much safer flying is than riding in Amish buggies on cobblestone streets. Keep that in mind next month, OK? :)

    And who, may I ask, doesn't love a well-placed ellipsis? Or...many, many ellipses?