"Iffy" aloft | Front Porch | Indy Week

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"Iffy" aloft

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I am not a good flyer. I was not a good flyer wayyy before Sept. 11. (Oddly enough, the attacks have reduced my fear somewhat. If a terrorist were idiot enough to try to hijack a plane I'm on, I'm still so angry that I'd be far too busy flogging him into unconsciousness with my rosary to be afraid.) But, mostly I'm not a good flyer.

That having been said, I just got a call from my brother, who's getting married next September in Italy, and wants me there. If he were getting married in New York or California, I would drive. I would have found a way to drive to Cuba. But I really don't think I can drive to Italy. I've looked into it, and even in a sub-compact, the cost is prohibitive.

So, I checked my second-favorite mode of transport, the train, and, if you can believe it, they have not yet finished an underwater railway to Europe. I know, I know, they can put a man on the moon, but a choo-choo to France is asking too much? Of course, I could sail, if I didn't hurl just watching reruns of The Love Boat.

The last time I flew was traumatic: The weather was beautiful here in the Triangle, but apparently crummy over yonder in Texas. After boarding, we sat on the plane for an extra 45 minutes, because the weather out west was "iffy." Now, the word "iffy" is one of the top 10 things I NEVER want to hear from the captain of an airplane I'm flying on, but it was too late--they had closed the door. Finally, we pulled out onto the tarmac, where we stopped again, because the weather out yonder was worse, so we had to wait a while longer. I was fine with this. I don't mind waiting--I would have waited, like, a couple of weeks, just to ensure a nice sunny day in Texas.

Twenty-five minutes later, the co-pilot got on the speaker and said we had clearance to take off, but we only had a window of about three minutes, so buckle up! I knew it was the co-pilot talking, because the pilot was way too busy flooring the plane and skidding it into a circle so that we were facing the right way, before gunning us down the runway. But I was the only one urging second thoughts from my fellow passengers.

"WINDOW?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WINDOW?! WE CAN'T GET THIS BIG PLANE THROUGH A TINY LITTLE THREE-MINUTE WINDOW, ARE YOU ALL CRAZY??!!"

No one cared. I looked around frantically for support, but only saw people reading the paper, knitting, talking, or--I kid you not--sleeping. Since I was being hurled down a runway at the speed of light, I decided to let it go, although the words my mother said to me the night before my wedding kept running through my head, "Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."

And I was right. That was the calmest part of the flight.

Hey, anyone know if Greyhound goes to Rome?

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