Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I have flown a couple of times in my life, and largely without incident. Which scares the living shit out of me.

I know that the odds of being a plane crash are astronomically low -- somewhere between being hit by lightning and being eaten by a koala -- and yet, somehow my overblown ego feels that I'm likely to win the unlucky lottery. Even writing that sentence makes me think that I'm going to end up the footnote in some kind of ironic story where some schmuck in upstate New York predicted his own death, and how sad it was.

The thing is this: I'm not really afraid of dying, per se. It's not that I want to die, mind you, but death isn't the thing about flying. It's the falling, and the screaming, and the all that time you have to think about what a loser you are and how little you've done with your pitiful, meaningless existence. At least if I get hit by a bus, the lights are gonna go out pretty quickly and that will be that. If I ever have to put one of those fucking oxygen masks over my head in a plane, I might just tie the thing off so I can go off into the netherworld via a euphoric lack of oxygen, instead of a violent collision with the seat in front of me.

But is that really what terrifies me about flying? That's the endgame, truth be told, but there's a lot more leading up to that. You could die almost any day of your life, from almost any cause. You take a risk whenever you get out of bed or stick your face in a fan. So to me it seems (and I know that this is logically absolute bullshit) that the number of circumstances that could lead to death seem to escalate on a plane.

Side note: whenever you read about plane travel, they say that it's the safest way to get from one place to another, and then, for comparison, mention how many deadly auto crashes there are each year -- usually something like 40,000. Now I don't want to get into a fucking car either.

It's just that if the motor goes out on your car, you can pull to the side of the road and call AAA. You can't do that 30,000 feet up in the air. I know that planes can glide if power goes out (I'll take your goddamn word for it, thank you), but every little thing has to be perfect in order for a plane to work, right? Not only does each bolt have to be tightened, and the wings have to not fall off the side of the plane, but physics has to continue to work. I know that Newton proved his so-called "Laws of Physics" many years ago, but what if they aren't really laws at all. What if they're just "Tendencies of Physics"? Has anyone investigated this??

I'm not really afraid of terrorism so much, because that would be just dumb luck. The odds that my plane from Scranton to Wichita is going to be hijacked is slim. Also, it seems like if someone tries that shit these days, everyone on the plane will try to bumrush the guy. I wouldn't be one of them, only because if I take my hands off the armrests, the plane will destabilize and spin out of control anyway.

Do you know how many planes fly every day? It's something like 30,000 every effing DAY! Successfully! That has got to be some kind of witchcraft. There is no way that can happen. There aren't even 30,000 planes in the U.S., are there?

This is what scares me the most about flying. I've never had a "bad flight" (knock on Palo Santo wood), and I know that the more I fly, the greater the likelihood that I will. I've been in a few near-accidents in the car, and since I've seen them come and go, I'm pretty calm in the driver's seat when they look imminent. Not so in the cabin of a jet; the first sign of trouble and I will literally shit myself. Literally. I've done it over less.

So wish me safe travels as those engines spool up and the wind carries me and some unlucky saps to another area code. I need it.

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