As some of you may or may not know, I am a very nervous, anxious, person. That extends to my feelings towards flying. This past weekend I was coaxed by my good friend's husband to hopping on a plane after work and surprising her for her birthday weekend. It didn't take much persuasion to get me to say yes, but getting on the plane was a different story. I didn't allow myself to think about the trip until I pulled my car into the airport parking lot. It suddenly sunk in what I was about to do.
Now, for those of you who are reading this and thinking to yourself "this girl is ridiculous, I fly all the time" I would like you to know, I haven't always been afraid to fly. Granted, the most I ever flew was from Dallas to New Orleans and vice versa (depending on the aircraft anywhere between a 45 minute to 1:15 flight). I used to enjoy it, just enough time to get into a book and before you know it, you were landing. One of the last trips I took during my "flying loving" phase was obviously with a very drunk and/or inexperience pilot. The weather was clear, it seems as though the plane had no mechanical problems, but he had a serious problem keeping the plane steady and almost as though he was going through an obstacle course in the air. Needless to say, I was very nauseous and fearing for my life by the end of that flight. Ever since that time, I hated getting on a plane.
The last time I flew previous to this past weekend's trip was when I was flying from Dallas to New Orleans to attend my uncle's funeral. I decided to fly Southwest. It was a last minute flight and I was always told they have decent prices. What they say is true, I was able to get a decent rate and be with my family. I have to say I wasn't the biggest fan that I had to fly out of Love Field. I'm not sure if the air conditioning in the airport just happened to be out that day or if the airport is just always that hot! Pair that with a ton of people squeezed into a tiny space and you had a very nervous, uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden, me. I have to admit though, once I was on the plane, I was won over, the flight attendant was great, even gave me an extra strong drink because I think he could tell I was nervous. All in all a good experience.
This last flight though, seemed to be doomed from the get go. I pulled into the airport only to find that the long-term parking lot was completely full. Having no option as I was driving myself and had nowhere else to leave my car, I opted for short-term parking and dealt with the fact that I was going to have pay serious money by the time I made it back. I got through security pretty quickly since I had my boarding pass printed and decided to grab a drink while I waited. I waited patiently at the bar and by the time the lady made it to me, I nervously requested my jack and coke. She gave me a double take and after checking my ID to verify my nervous twitch wasn't from trying to score an illegal drink, she asked if I wanted a double. When a huge smile appeared on my face, she said "triple?" I opted for the triple jack with a splash of coke and was on my way. I grabbed a chair by the windows by my gate and waited for the announcement to board. I made sure to pace myself on my drinking, as I didn't want to miss any announcements. Just as I looked out the window and thought "man, it looks like it is about to storm" the sky cut loose. It began pouring, lightening and thundering non-stop. A lightening bolt hit something close, cracked and the airport lost electricity for a few minutes. I tried not to let the panic overrun me, but it was difficult. This storm caused the plane I was supposed to be boarding to have to circle, inevitably causing my flight to be delayed 20 minutes. Not good when you have a connecting flight to catch that was originally scheduled to leave 40 minutes after you landed. I thought to myself "great, I will have 20 minutes, that's hardly enough time but definitely doable." I was landing in Charlotte, which, unbeknownst to me, is a pretty massive airport. Exiting my plane I realized I had to get to one end of the airport to the other in 5 minutes. I'm still not exactly sure how I did it, but I did. When I arrived at my gate, I was out of breath, sweating and just all around not thrilled. The lady scanned my ticket and said "I'll walk you out." I was like "what?!! walk me out where?" She opened the door, which I thought was only for emergencies, mind you, and lead me to the flight line and sent me in the direction of a tin can that look nowhere near flightworthy. I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding me. I force myself up the rickety stairs to be greeted by a plane full of people. I find my seat is the only empty one next to very tall man. O joy and happiness, I could tell this would be fun since he made no attempt to fix his posture when he realized he would, after all, have someone sitting next to him. He spent a good portion of the hour (thank god) flight with his legs spread eagle and a knee shoved into my leg and half his arm and head taking up my back area. Becoming agitated I finally decided he looked like he needed an elbow....in his face. I reached up a couple times to "fix my air" but he didn't seem to get the point.
The trip home was no better. Actually, to be quite honest, it was 10 times worse. I went to the first airport to be placed on another rickety plane, this time my row partner? I very large black man. Super tall and definitely the type to never pass on food. He obviously had no problem with personal space either. I spent the flight on half of my seat since he took up half my seat. I honestly felt bad, he couldn't help it. But at the same time, the tickets were so expensive, I was a little outraged. He only made the situation worse when he fell asleep, allowing his head to fall too close to me and proceeded to snore in my ear. I was more than thrilled to begin my, yet again, mad dash at Charlotte to make my connecting flight. I embarked on the plane and realized, this plane was fantastic. It was huge, great functioning a/c and even better, bigger seats and plenty of room. This time I was sure no matter who was my rowmate, I would have my seat to myself. Well, I was right, in some ways. My rowmate was perfectly capable of fitting in his seat. Now, I don't know about yall, but when I am flying, I'm not there to make friends. I'm on a mission, to get where I am going and get there alive. That's all I care about. I don't give a shit about where you are going or what you are doing. I certainly don't care what your name is, what your destination is and what you will be doing when you get there. Someone should have filled my rowmate in on this. I should have known I was in for it when I glanced up and saw his eager face looking directly at me and the ever-to-eager handshake introducing himself. He sat down and immediately started digging in his pockets. Now, he didn't do like most people do, like, stand up to get whatever it is out, or lean forward so you can reach what you are going for. No, he decided, "hey, her ribs look like they are due for a good elbow or two." Annoyed, tired, I tried to keep my calm. I repeated a little mantra to myself and felt ok. I made sure to avoid eye contact, looking out the window, looking at the carpet, staring at the skymall magazine. Until at one point I could feel his eyes burning through me. I glanced over and he smiled and began asking where I was going and what I was going there for. I responded with "new orleans, because that's where I'm from." He then began telling me all about his trip and what he was going to do and who he was going with. Now, I also understand, that as a "New Orleanian" I'm supposed to be accommodating to our tourists. But, to be completely honest, I was treating him like anyone else I would here. If I don't know you, I most certainly don't want to know all about your social calendar. I don't want to lock eyes with you and I most certainly don't want to catch you staring at me at the corner of my eye.
The plane couldn't have landed quick enough. I had an awkward moment while walking through the airport while he tried to make conversation once again, but I began walking my quick, normal pace and lost him within seconds.
The whole point of this story is that, by the end of this weekend trip, I realized, I'm actually not afraid of flying anymore. I was so wrapped up in making sure that I could make my connecting flights and being worried about being drugged and having my skin being made into a life size devin-suit, that I didn't even have time to be nervous.