I originally posted this on one of my previously deleted blogs…so for some of you it may be a familiar story. But I felt it was worth posting here.
A few years back I was on a flight heading back home from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. While waiting for take off, the woman seated next to me asked if I wouldn’t mind changing seats. She explained that she hated the window seat and thought she would be safer in the middle seat if the plane happened to crash. (Yeah…because statistics show that people sitting in the middle seat are far more likely to survive than those sitting next to the window or aisle!)
I thought this was a strange request and a bit disconcerting to say the least; but I had no problem accepting her request because I tend to enjoy the window seat more than the middle or aisle seats.
So after switching seats she proceeded to inform myself and the woman in the aisle seat that she hated flying (not a great conversation starter). She hated it so much that she had to have three glasses of wine and two shots of whiskey before entering the plane. FYI: NOT information you want to divulge to me before we take off.
Just then the woman on the aisle and I exchanged glances. Both giving looks of delightful deviance and nodding to one another as if having a mental conversation that went something like this:
Aisle-seat lady: “Are we going to have to duct tape her to the seat?
Me: “I don’t know, but it would make this flight an hour of peculiar and profound entertainment for the two of us if we did. Maybe we should.”
Aisle-seat lady: “Do you have any duct tape?”
Me: “No. Do you?”
Aisle-seat Lady: (disheartened) “No.”
Me: (disheartened) “Oh. I guess we’re just going to have to talk to her.”
Aisle-seat Lady: “Yeah. (sighhhh) I guess so.”
I feel that I must inform you that even though I’m afraid of heights to the point where I can’t even think of being on a ledge or cliff without my knees buckling, I actually enjoy flying quite a bit.
I love the take off and landings because the ground is zipping by at such great speeds and then … woosh! … you’re in the air, or … woosh! … you’re landing. It’s just the coolest thing in the world to me.
So with that said when I get on a plane, I enjoy having the sun guard up on the window so I can watch us take off, however, on this particular trip my young, alcohol-laced co-passenger made it very clear that even though we switched places, I could not for any reason what-so-ever have the sun guard up. It had to be down.
Now…since I have a fear of heights …AND… since I was raised as a nice young man who is also a follower of Jesus Christ who, mind you, taught us the golden rule, I like to treat others the way I want to be treated by accommodating them when I know they are uncomfortable in certain situations.
This was obviously one of those situations.
HOWEVER…having a fear of my own, I also know that we must find ways to overcome them. With that said I’m also quite mischievous and when the opportunity presents itself, I tend to take advantage of those situations to help other people overcome their fears.
This too, was obviously one of those situations.
So, just before we taxied out onto the runway I closed the sun guard so my alcohol-laced co-passenger wouldn’t get weird on me.
As the plane started down the runway and was gaining speed, I noticed that she had a death grip on the armrests, her jaw was clinched, lips pierced and her eyes closed tight; so I took this opportunity to raise the sun guard a little bit so I could watch as the plane ascended into the air.
After all, her eyes were closed. She couldn’t see anything. How would she know? …right??
Welllllll…I found out rather quickly that the real question wasn’t how would she know, but rather, how did she know? Because as soon as the sun guard was up, she turned her face directly towards me and with eyes still closed and claws of death still gripping the armrests, she let out this very loud, very startling, very hilarious profanity laced scream of terror.
I do believe the exact phrase was,
“SHUT THAT (F*@#ING) WINDOW!!”
Which was heard throughout the cabin, and I imagine by every person within a 20 mile radius including the village some 8000 feet below us.
Only two sounds were heard immediately following her deliberate vocal outrage. The first was the sound of the roaring jet engines; and the second was the subtle and ever so silent sound of me slowly sliding the sun guard back down.
Not one other passenger said a word until the Pilot came over the intercom and told us our cruising altitude and some other pertinent information about our flight.
I then recall smiling at my frightened, eyes closed, alcohol-laced co-passenger; and I awkwardly stated that I didn’t mean any harm and wasn’t trying to be rude; which ended up being a misguided attempt at diplomacy, because with a very menacing, eyes–still–closed gaze that spoke volumes as to how she felt towards my chivalrous attempt to help her overcome her fears…she sternly replied,
To which I responded by glancing at the Aisle-seat lady and we exchanged looks of humorous yet shocking disbelief.
After the plane leveled off and we seemed to reach our cruising altitude, my alcohol-laced co-passenger slowly opened her eyes just in time to witness the fight attendant checking on us.
At this point the aisle-seat lady and I were finished with our laughter and explained the situation to the fight attendants. They seemed to understand and when they came by with snacks, we each received a little something extra.
The plane made its final approach at our destination site, and just before exiting the plane I asked one of the flight attendants if they were on the same connecting fight as my alcohol-laced co-passenger.
They were extremely happy to notify me that they were not, but said they would definitely alert the crew of that flight that she would be coming.
I have no idea how that fight went for her, but I can only imagine what it must have been like for the other passengers and flight crew.
Maybe they let her ride in the baggage compartment…
Or on the front!
I hope she didn’t scream too loudly.
Sitting on a plane next to people afraid to fly can be really pathetic.