Offen: The fear factor
As the saying goes, I’m not scared of flying. I’m scared of crashing.
Well, actually, I’m scared of flying, too.
I didn’t used to be scared of flying. Of course, that was back when I took subways everywhere, which significantly limited my international travel opportunities. Then, when I first started to fly, I never looked down, so I was able to continue to believe that I was still on the D train.
Over the years, planes haven’t changed much — they still serve the same peanuts, even if they now charge five bucks for them —but I have. I have become increasingly aware that flying is potentially very dangerous. At any moment, someone sitting next to you, sitting so tightly next to you they are doing the same crossword puzzle with you, could sneeze into your ginger ale. They also might get 23 Down wrong.
And then there’s the crashing thing.
Yes, I know that, statistically, flying is safer than brushing your teeth. That you’re more likely to get run over by a burro than you are to be in a plane that falls into the Atlantic. That there hasn’t been a major airplane crash since the last major airplane crash.
Still, I’m scared.
I get on a plane and I immediately realize that a jet airliner is really nothing more than a large metal can, with peanuts, that will soon be 30,000 feet above the ground and, really, how does it do that? Why should that work?
I look around at the other people on board and they seem to be blissfully unaware that they are in the middle of a tin can, will soon be so far off the ground that if they yell for help no one will hear them and yet they are still willing to pay five bucks for a really small bag of peanuts.
So, how do I do it? How do I still get on a flight knowing that it will probably be my last one, that this plane is headed right for the middle of the Atlantic Ocean even if I am flying to Cincinnati, and that I will never find out who wins the second Duke-Carolina game?
I have developed a method.
Four hours before the scheduled departure, I pray that the flight will be cancelled because of a peanut harvest shortage in Georgia.
Three hours before the scheduled departure, I put all my affairs in order as long as I can find some of the affairs that may be in the storage shed or possibly in the antic.
Two hours before the scheduled departure, I check out the subway schedule.
One hour before the scheduled departure, I promise myself that if I live through this, I will really figure out how to text with both hands and finish “War and Peace.” Or at least “War.”
And then I get on the plane. Once again, my method has worked. Well, that, and all the drugs.
Neil Offen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.