This is the story of a guy who is deathly afraid of flying, who just recently went on a trip from Ontario, Canada to Turkey. This guy may or may not be my younger brother. I am so proud of him for doing this, he doesn’t even know.
I hate flying. I’ve strategically avoided it now for thirty years. I am not big on heights, or enclosed spaces, or loss of control either, which makes total sense, given my fear.
Before going to Turkey – the reason for which I won’t get into here – I spent a lot of time watching cockpit views of planes taking off on YouTube. I watched passenger views of planes taking off, and passenger views of planes flying over oceans. I watched a bunch of videos like this, all the while, trying very hard not to convulse or shit my pants.
The trip consisted of four plane rides in total – two there and two back. Why not start with something shorter, you might wonder? I don’t know. This is just how it all worked out. What were the “highlights” of my first time flying? Not sure I’d use that term, but there were a few babies – one that screamed non-stop for eight hours. OK, I’m exaggerating – the baby only screamed like it was being murdered for SEVEN hours straight. While not ideal, at least it distracted me from thinking about the speed of the plane, or the altitude of the plane, or the fact that the plane could split in half and plunge into the ocean at any second.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sitting right beside the couple with their small wailing child. The lady next to me was, rocking back and forth with her head between her knees. I was trying to watch Step Brothers with my headphones on, popping Lorazepam and ordering champagne, which, for some reason, turned into a nearly choking foam as it slid down my throat.
I was told specifically by my parents, my doctor, and by the Shopper’s Drug Mart prescription information sheet, NOT to mix the pills with alcohol. But you know, what doesn’t kill you – evidently – makes you slightly more exhausted and borderline hallucinatory.
And then there were the “videos” – the ones that demonstrated how to use an oxygen mask if the plane ever had to make an emergency landing, the ones that showed how to get off the plane and board that small rubber dingy in the middle of the ocean, though I highly doubted that a plane could land gently on the water. I imagined it more like a explosion of metal and body parts.
I also remember, at some point during one of the flights, all the attendants just disappearing. I got this very distinct and unsettling “see ya later” vibe. And then everyone started getting up and running amok on the plane. Of course, you can’t really “run amok” on a plane, so it was more like people just standing around near me, in front of me, blocking my exit in case I needed to escape, or get to the bathroom to have a nervous breakdown.
One last thing – on the trip from Paris to Toronto, some guy had a heart attack. Yep, there I was, shakily writing in my lovely journal, when I heard someone say, “Is there a doctor on board?”
Immediately, I thought the worst. “Holy shit, is the plane going down?” I started panicking. “And what good is a doctor going to do?”
Then someone said, “Some guy’s having a heart attack.” Whew. Better him than me, I figured. I had enough problems to worry about, like the plane landing unexpectedly and quite violently in the MOTHERFUCKING OCEAN.
When we finally touched down, we had to wait about twenty minutes for the paramedics to get Mr. Heart Attack off. At last – given the green light to disembark – we walked down the ramp, all of us passing the poor guy just lying there on a stretcher puking his guts out. And it was right after they’d said, “Thanks for flying Air France.” Perfect.
I guess the point of my story is that I got to where I needed to go, and now I am back. And I am alive. I didn’t die. So yay, planes. And yay, jetlag. And yay, being made to look like some freak for ordering a gluten-free plane meal. Can I help it that I break out in hives if I eat wheat, and that they brought my food out first and then didn’t feed anyone else for another twenty minutes?
I’m not sure I’m ever going put myself through that God awful torture again, though I might reconsider if someone wanted to give me a free trip to Las Vegas.