I had to fly into Newark tonight and I’m not the world’s best air traveler. I’m not what you would call a white-knuckle flyer. I’m more of a white-torso flyer.
The reason I don’t like to fly is because my manager usually books my flights and he is what is commonly referred to as a, oh, what’s the phrase I’m looking for, a cheap bastard. This man is tighter than an erection in a Speedo. He was once arrested for shoplifting from a supermarket. His defense was the labels on the bottles of salad dressing said, “Kraft Free.”
So, I arrive at the airport early and got my seat of choice. You know the seat I’m talking about. That’s when you sit in the middle of a row of three seats right between the guy, who apparently did a gram of cocaine before boarding the flight and won’t shut up, and the woman in the window seat with the bladder of a common housefly. I always ask for this seat, whenever I fly. I figure it saves the airline a lot of trouble having to shift a bunch of people around on the plane to make it happen. And, yes, I was lucky to get the mother with the screaming baby to sit directly behind me. But I did have to pay a little extra to have him kick the back of my seat throughout the entire flight.
I’m ready to board the plane and that’s when I meet our stewardess or, as they like to be called, “flight
attendant”. Right, like that’s going to get me my bag of peanuts any faster. Anyway, she’s a cross between Leona Helmsley and Nurse Ratchett. I ask her a simple question. “What kind of on-time arrival record do you have?” She snaps at me, “One hundred per cent.” I said, “That’s pretty good.” She says, “Well, all of our planes arrive somewhere…just maybe not their original destination. And, yes, it is true, we are still looking for a few of them. But, we’re pretty sure they’ve arrived somewhere by now.”
Okay, so now my stomach starts churning, but I take my seat. And I’m sitting there watching people put the equivalent of a king-sized mattress into the overhead compartments.
I’m trying to listen to Nurse Ratchett as she’s giving the safety instructions by following along on the plastic card they have in the seat pocket in front of me. But, apparently, they’ve all been replaced with Gideon Bibles. And for some reason, they’re all dog-eared on the 23rd psalm. Like I said, she was suffering from some kind of personal problem or permanent PMS, or something. I don’t know what was wrong, but she lacked tact. She’s saying things like, “In case the cabin pressure should drop, these yellow masks will come down from above. You can put them over your face if you want to. You don’t have to, it’s just something for you to do while the plane plummets to your death!”
So now I’m starting to make out my will on the back of the barf bag. And I’m thinking that the only thing that could make me any more nervous is if I looked out the window and saw bin Laden waving to me from the terminal.
Later in the flight, the stewardess asks me if I would like to buy a pair of headphones to watch today’s in-flight movie, which happens to be Harrison Ford in “Air Force One.” I realize on this flight that you can also listen to music or the conversation going on up in the cockpit. So, I buy a pair of these headphones. You know the ones I’m talking about. The tension on these things is so tight that the tips of the earpieces actually touch inside of your head.
So, I’m listening to the conversation going on up in the cockpit and I’m hearing things like, “Hey, Bill, what are all these dials for? Hey, Bill, when Beverly comes back with the beverage cart, see if she’ll make me a kamikaze, will you? The five I had at the terminal didn’t quite take the edge off. Hey, Bill, are you still having that recurring nightmare where you fly the plane directly into the mountain?”
Okay, this is all I need to hear. I whip these earphones off, removing wax that’s been in there since fifth grade. And now I’m getting off this plane. This is when the stewardess announces that they forgot to load the meals on the plane and that all they have to eat is a loaf of bread and a bottle of red wine. I said, “What is this? Communion? And, pardon me, but wasn’t that the menu for the Last Supper?”
So, I drink as much wine as I can hold. Apparently, it’s a bit more than I can hold because, when I wake up, I’m going in circles on the luggage carousel.
Next time, I take the train, bus or unscheduled caribou.