Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Forgive Me

Yes I know it's been awhile. My only excuse was that I was fried on blogging and needed a vacation, which I took. Now I'm back with a whole new set of material and thoughts.

I need to travel. It's something that my body finds relaxing. The drive to the airport, the manic waiting in security, the boring terminal, these are all things I find enjoyable. I know they are filled with anxiety and tension, but it's a different kind of stress. It's the stress of fun on the horizon. I look forward to that insane cavalcade of travel related issues.

The Friday I left was a little different. The wind jolted me across the Merritt Parkway, and I listened to the radio for the possibility of cancelled flights. Fortunately, they were saying that JFK was okay. So I drove confidently, thinking my flight would be on time to Texas, where I was meeting my brother.

Of course, nothing at New York airports ever quite works out. I arrived at the airport about two hours early because Jet Blue has a cool terminal to hang out in. My thought was that I could relax in the terminal, read a bit, and listen to music. These plans were foolish, as I walked into an airport refuge camp. While my flight was set to leave a mere 20 minutes late, some flights were up to 8 hours delayed, leaving a huge population of people stranded. My relaxing travel experience had been busted.

I did my best to be patient, carving out a tiny spot for myself near the gate and throwing on my headphones. People's attitudes in airports make me nervous though. Years of airline travel has taught me one important thing: do not bother the gate attendants. Your job is to sit quietly and wait for your flight to be called. Bothering the gate attendants only serves to slow down the process and elicits an irritated response from someone who is just trying to do their job. For some reason, common sense is thrown out the window in favor of absolute hysteria. People need the gate attendants to reassure them that everything is okay.

I can't stand when people form random lines. Do they not know the whole system behind boarding an airplane? They let parents with little children and disabled people on first. Then the plane is boarded by rows. Forming a random line by the gate will not change anything. Plus, what exactly is the end result of boarding the plane first? You sit in a cramped chair for longer, waiting for the plane to take off. If it were my decision, I would board the plane at the last possible minute.

We are sitting on the runway, waiting to take off. We've been here for about thirty minutes. Folks are getting nervous, staring at their watches and mentally calculating when we will arrive in Texas. I'm laughing like crazy at the Fox show Trading Spouses, where a woman flips out because the mom she traded with is not a Christian. She keeps saying she brought "dark spirits" into her household.

While I found the show funny, it also forced me to reflect on intolerance. The non-Christian woman came across as a really sweet, wonderful woman. She made the family she stayed with comfortable and happy. Meanwhile, the religious woman would accept nothing less than forcing her new family to church and shoving beliefs down their throats. She felt it was her duty to "plant the seed" but absolutely refused to participate in any alternative forms of spirituality. Her panic attack at the end of the show demonstrated how she was incapable of accepting other philosophies of life, which is unfortunate because there are lots of other perspectives on life. Refusing to even listen to another person's opinion is what fosters misunderstanding in the world. So while I found her freak-out funny, it also made me kind of sad about how some people lack acceptance of others and push their views on people.

Around my rumination the captain came on the headset and told us that the takeoff would be scary. I've had a lot of flights before and I have never been told that the flight would be frightening, so I knew it would be really bad. The engines fired up, roaring into the wind. I felt the plane vibrate against the gusts, fighting to gain enough speed to bump off the ground. The tiny regional jet kept rocking in the wind, and I knew the captain was keeping us on the ground longer in order to gain more airspeed. Finally, I felt the plane leave the ground. That's when it became scary.

The plane blew in the wind like a parasail, shifting back and forth as my stomach lurched. I looked out the window, my fingernails driven deep into the hard leather seat. The plane continued to rock, but we kept rising. When we achieved a thousand feet, I relaxed and apologized to my neighbor for screaming like a little girl. Okay, that's not necessarily true. I would never apologize for that.

The flight went by smoothly. I relaxed and watched some interesting satellite programming, my Dunkin Donuts coffee whispering to me that everything was okay. When the plane landed, I thought that it was time to relax and enjoy my vacation. I couldn't have been more wrong.

1 comment:

zorlack said...

Dunkin Donuts coffee whispering...

Well done.