Taking the red eye back from San Diego was supposed to be fairly easy. On the way to the airport I saw a flight attendant and asked her, what’s it like there? She thought I meant Dallas, where she comes from. No, I meant, what’s it like 35,000 feet above this glorious country of ours. She looked at me like I had two heads. I have to admit, the in-flight turbulence is not making my flying experiences any better. I know what you’re thinking (it’s safe up there) but let me explain what happened. In this blog I wrote about flying back from Tampa a few years ago when I made a connection. The flight had so much turbulence, the pilot asked the flight attendants to stay seated for their safety. That flight wrecked my nerves so since then, I have not been the smooth operator, passenger. Let me share this. I was in San Diego for a trade show. One of my colleagues tells me when she flew to New York the President was landing at JFK and all the incoming traffic was diverted up North and while they were diverted the jet hit some serious turbulence and they dropped, you know (she tells me) like when you drop in an elevator and your stomach heaves up? You know? I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears and telling her, “I don’t hear you….I can’t hear you…you can’t make me listen…” shit…stop. Then a client tells me, “Once I flew back to Philly and all the way over, it was so, smooth… smooth as it can be…that was till we hit the tri-state area and bam! A hail storm, the plane in front of us was hit so hard by hail a panel in their windshield cracked open. Imagine that?” No. I don’t imagine that or want to. Then he tells me, he’s flying back the day after me and the area is supposed to be hit with thunder storms. So, what do I do? I check the weather. New York is supposed to get hit with a storm on Friday – I land on Thursday morning. I’m safe. Right? I check in and take my seat and chat to the guy next to me who also exhibited at the same conference. Yeah, great….then I hear the metallic voice crack over head from the speaker, I felt like telling the guy next to me to shut up. The captain is speaking… the one voice who I really want to hear who will tell us what we can expect on this passage through the skies. “This is the red eye as some travelers call this flight, so I expect most of you will be resting for most of the flight. “ I thought, you’re not going to sleep? Right captain? You can't sleep, so what's keeping you awake? “We expect a smooth flight till we get close to Chicago which might give us some bumps, and I might make an announcement to fasten the seat-belts.” What do you mean, I might? That was all I needed to hear. I knew it meant we are going to hit rough weather. I calculated two hours into the flight which should put us over ORD. It will be 03:00 in New York and I hoped I was sleeping. I was jacked up with nerves. Dear friends, let me tell you what happened. There was no sleep. My slimy and greasy nose was pressed against the cool plastic window. Sweat dripped down my back. My legs shook as we approached…Chicago. I kid you not. This is what I saw. Thick, chaotic and violent bolts of lightning burst from huge dark clouds. I said a prayer as we began to rock and roll and shake and slide. That was a storm. That was more than just bumps you lying captain. I was pissed. You cannot fool me. So I get up. I am too nervous to sit and I am panicking. I walk back to the jet and ask the attendant who was sitting there…I ask for water. The bottles are small and I downed it. Can I have another? I confided to the woman who was playing a game on her computer before I came and disturbed her and who - may I add- was oblivious to the turbulence or the storm. Like a small child, I whined to her. I did. I admit it. “There’s lightening - out there.” Really? Well, it’s not dangerous to fly in it. I think. That’s what she says to me. It hurt my nerves when she said, I think. It meant she did not know. The water I drank quickly became sweat on my back and I walked down the aisle and used the bathroom on the other end. The flight attendant, an African American male who announced earlier before take-off what we need to do in case of an emergency looked like he was nervous. There, I told you. This shit is real. Right? No, he plays it off. “We’re on schedule and will be in New York in an hour and a half.” I take my seat with my trembling legs and look outside at the darkness. Above the clouds, the stars are present in their places in heaven. We fly on. Eventually, like some bad times in our lives – we get passed the storms and past the distractions and the nerves are drained and we learn how to cope. Breathe. I seep into a sleep… till the shakes woke me again.
Thank you for reading this.