Welcome back fellow readers! It’s great to be back posting after a brief sabbatical, where I spent some time working on the “Who Stole My Cannoli?” book! It’s a labor of love that I can’t wait to share but has definitely taken up my free time! However my blog needs some attention as well, so here I am again picking you up for a ride on the crazy train that is my life! On a recent vacation, I found myself thinking about all my travels and wanted to share with you my outlook on the stigma that clouds (pun intended) the dreaded act of jet setting.
As I sat with my wife, enjoying the last few hours of vacation, I couldn’t seem to ignore this pit in my stomach. Yes, I know this feeling all too well and it rears its ugly head every time we get close to flying. When I was a kid we never flew, my parents always thought it cheaper to pack us in the family car and drive to our destination. Picture a mix of the Griswold’s and the Corleone’s driving cross country. One minute we are singing the disco hit “Ring My Bell” and the next, some pitiful soul cuts my dad off and half the Italian mob is involved in a car chase. But I digress. Flying was unfamiliar to me and it wasn’t until I was twenty four that I boarded my first flight. This is when I discovered where hell truly lied.
There’s always been a multitude of stereotypes when it comes to flying and unfortunately most are true. Take the arm rest thief for example. You know, the one who snatches prime “arm rest” real estate the minute you move. Or how about the person that insists on taking off their shoes, no matter the flight duration, and you have to endure periods of foot odor. Do they not smell themselves? Even better and what I like to call, the “attack of the sleeper!”, is my favorite. This criminal robs you of your personal space by taking a power nap and using your shoulder as their pillow. Before you know it you’ve got a view of their mouth and the sweet sounds of heavy breathing in your ear. I think that’s when I would contemplate opening the emergency exit door and taking my chances. Needless to say, these travel offenders come with the territory but they are the least of my problems. In the time it takes for me to grab my suitcase to pack, my anxiety levels have sky rocketed through the roof! The idea that I’m putting my life into another persons hands is not comforting. In fact, for lack of a better word, it scares the crap out of me! However, I like to think I’ve come a long way since my first experience of taking to the skies. Rewind back to March 2009. I was prepping for my first trip abroad to Italy with my wife and I was nervous about boarding my first plane. I wasn’t fully prepared for what was to come but I had faced other obstacles in the past. What could be so different this time?
All I could feel was beads of sweat rolling down my back and the breezeway to board the plane felt more like a ten mile tunnel to my death. I was so dizzy and I couldn’t really figure out if this was reality or a dream. You know that feeling you get when you ‘ve had too many cocktails and everyone around you looks like a circus character? Yea, that just about pin points my state of sanity except I didn’t benefit from the buzz. As I got close to the airplane door I took a deep breath and walked through. My eyes suddenly bugged out like one of those cartoon animals and I stood frozen. This wasn’t an airplane, it was a freaking pod from the starship enterprise! All at once, flashbacks of airplanes from movies I had seen as a kid hit me and I felt deceived. I was expecting millions of rows of seats, friendly stewardesses handing out champagne, and comfy pillows. When I booked, the damn website said “Friendly Skies” and portrayed a oversized seat complete with a pillow! All I got was a rude stewardess who resembled rumpelstiltskin and yelled at me to keep it moving. To make matters worse, my seat belt needed to be “extended” to fit and still… no pillow! I was going into shock and needed some cake or a pie stat! That’s when I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard the calm voice of my wife telling me to relax. I closed my eyes and ignored everything around me. As I started to feel a wave of calmness my wife asked if I was stable enough to put our carry-on, which was stuck in my unwavering grip, into the overhead compartment. Feeling brave, I stood up and proceeded to complete her request but struggled at first to get the bag to fit. I was twisting and turning the bag in all directions so the compartment door would shut, all the while muttering curse words in-between disapproving grunts. After what seemed like forever, I started to sweat and I could feel passengers staring at me. That’s when I looked over and saw rumpelstiltskin coming towards me with ample speed. Without hesitation I quickly grabbed my carry-on, threw it under my wife’s feet, and slammed my body back into my seat! Screw cake and pie, I wanted off this plane! I eventually tired myself out and dozed off to dreamland. About an hour later I was startled out of my Xanax induced sleep by an unfamiliar feeling, to which my wife described was turbulence. I immediately began thinking of our survival plan and realized if we were going to nose dive into the Atlantic we might survive since we were seated so far back. That’s when my wife, ever so eloquently, reminded me the gas tanks were probably beneath us and we would blow up first. My face went pale and with white knuckles I gripped the seat, said some Hail Marys, and asked the lord to forgive all those times I stole slices of pumpkin cheesecake from the refrigerator at work. It’s funny, I don’t remember much after that and perhaps thats for the best. As expected we made it to our destination safely, including my carry-on, and it was then I realized the extent of my overreaction.
Fortunately, I made it through my first flight and along the way discovered that not all aircrafts are pods from Star Trek and not all stewardesses are creepy fairytale characters. However, before each flight I make sure to have our evacuation plan in place and I refuse to ever take a carry-on bag that won’t fit under my seat. I will never subject myself to the madness of overhead compartments again. I still have my moments where fits of anxiety will arise but I’ve come to relish in the happiness travel has afforded me. Oh, and yes, I still will indulge in the occasional pumpkin cheesecake. What!? I’m not dead, yet.