BETWEEN ATLANTA AND PHOENIX — The plane idles on the taxiway just a few feet from the gate.
That annoying safety video plays. If we crash, leave everything behind. The cushion is a floatation device. Jump down the slide. I know the drill; I’ve heard it a thousand times before.
I think three people on the plane watched the video. So, in other words, if we go down, we’re screwed. In the event of an emergency, I’m pushing that annoying lady across the aisle and one row in front of me out of the way, and I’m taking her cushion as an extra floatation device.
“We’re ready for departure,” the captain says, his voice crackles through the plane’s PA system. Some of my fellow passengers make small talk with one another. I sit quietly, my pen scribbling notes into a journal. The sound of the airplane’s engines are soothing; the plane rolls to a stop.
I can hear another plane taking off, its passengers heading to some exotic destination, maybe. Or, perhaps, they’re just going to Cincinnati.
The engines kick up. The buildings along the runway start to whiz by faster. The front wheel is up. Now, we’re off the ground. We bank slightly to the left. Other buildings on the ground, like those alongside the runway, now shrink below our wings. The plane — an Airbus A319 — is headed toward Phoenix, Arizona.
The ground below begins to dissipate, obscured by the clouds. But only for a moment or two. Before too long, I can see a highway below.
After about five minutes in the air and silence — except for the engines’ dull, laborious droning — that classic airplane bing breaks through the cabin. The curtain dividing first class and cattle class is closed, television screens drop down and some lady on a pre-recorded video starts talking about taking a trip to Hawaii and seeing volcanoes.
“What’s your idea of paradise?” she asks. At this point, I’m thinking the redeye home isn’t it.
I have days until then. So, I close my eyes, hoping to catch a wink of sleep. Perhaps, I shouldn’t of had that venti coffee. Or, maybe I just have too much on my mind.
It’s funny when you think about it. Really, it is. Why is it the older I get, the harder it is to enjoy a vacation? Is it that it’s just so hard to plan one?
It’s not that I have a shortage of places that I want to see. Getting time off from work seems to be the hardest part. I don’t really like my job. I’m going to be like that guy from Office Space. I don’t think I’m going to go anymore.
We’re flying along nicely. Then all of the sudden, without warning, we bank to the left. Then, we drop downward. Someone a couple rows back blurts out one of the expected blasphemous words. It seems the turbulence was a one-time thing. We’ll see.
The stewardess some sort of beverage service and an “in flight café.” What exactly is an “in flight café?”
“Hello, Shenequia. I’d like a mochafapalattechino. Make it low fat, would you?” Listen, I’m on an airplane. Just give me a bag of peanuts, maybe some trail mix, and a Diet Pepsi. You’re not running a café here. You’re not fooling anybody into thinking that you are. So, let’s get the drink cart going, and we’ll be good to go.
Some guy sitting across the aisle and one row behind me just mentioned something about a pillow flight. Did I hear that right? Listen buddy, with this crew, I don’t think a pillow fight is exactly what we need. I shudder at the thought of trading blows with leather face a few rows up.