I Used To Like Flying

flight

Headphones cover my ears so that John, Paul, George and Ringo can sing about places they remember and memories that lose their meanings but I am trying not to pay attention.

It is one of those songs that sometimes catches me off guard and sends me on journeys to places best left undisturbed because it is neither the time nor place to think of them.

Besides I have to deal with the sort of mile-long to-do list that I hate because it is too big to be completed and filled with too many things to just ignore.

That is the problem with the moments that lead up to a trip, there is always crap that needs to be done so that you can leave with a clear conscience and complete focus on where you are going and what you intend to do when you get there.

It is funny to me to think this way because for the longest time I was really good at just letting go of the crap and going with the flow, but somewhere in the recent past something changed.

I Used To Like Flying

I used to love to fly. It was always an adventure and I took enormous pleasure in traveling by plane.

I never took it for granted, it was magical and every time I went up I wished I had my own wings or at least my own airplane.

But some of that changed, can’t say precisely when but I’ll wager it was after 9-11 when  flying turned into a task.

Yeah, that is probably when it happened, not precisely upon that date but somewhere in the days that followed. Somewhere during fewer flights, more crowded planes and waiting in long lines at security checks.

To my kids this is how it has always been, they have no memories of the joy of surprising someone or being surprised by someone at the gate.

They don’t share my memories of business trips where I showed up 30 minutes before the flight, waltzed through the airport and walked onto a plane with a hanging bag and some food for the flight.

Turbulence

I suppose it is worth noting I have had a few flights during the past few years in which the turbulence moved from kind of fun to “oh fuck, please stop flinging us around like the pieces in a Cracker Jack box.”

There is not much joy in listening to people cry from fear and to start wondering if the pilots think of these moment as an ordinary day at the office or something serious and troubling.

Don’t misunderstand my gratitude for the calm demeanor the captain always assumes when he explains why he is not turning off the “seat belt” sign.

In situations that are outside of my control I usually prefer to enjoy blissful ignorance. Though if you gave me the choice of trying to fly/land the plane instead of crash I would take the damn controls and make like Ted Striker.

Though if you gave me the choice of trying to fly/land the plane instead of crash I would take the damn controls and make like Ted Striker.Click To Tweet

I suppose some people say that makes it sound like I have a control issue but I prefer to see it as a willingness to make hard decisions and do what needs to be done.

That is part of why I still get on planes because even though I am nervous and my sometimes overactive imagination prepares multiple scenarios for the crazy shit that can happen I won’t let it control my ability to live my life.

Don’t know if this sounds ridiculous to you, kind of does to me but we all live with our own narishkeit. I am the guy whose nervous stomach and dysfunctional digestive system sometimes worries about having access to a restroom and the one who would fight a hijacker.

Point-of-information, I don’t want to experience problems with either. Got no need to find out what I would really do or not do.

Flying Tin Cans

Ask me to tell you my biggest issue with flying and more than anything else it comes down to the horrible seats and uncomfortable seating arrangements.

I am just tall and broad enough for my legs to hit the seat in front and my shoulder to hang off the edge of the chair. Every flight I take I know there is a good chance that a cart will smack into me and that my fellow passengers will use my shoulder to support their walk to and fro.

This time around I am especially lucky because I got stuck with a middle seat and won’t know if I can change it until I get to the airport.

Ok, that is not entirely true. I can give the airline most of a C-Note to provide for my comfort, but I hate the idea of doing that on anything that is not an international flight.

But in spite of it all, there is a part of me that is excited again to leave the earth and fly through the blue above. Some magic will never be completely exhausted.

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12 Comments

  1. Mitch Mitchell January 5, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Ah, that’s probably a big difference between us. As a former military kid I got used to flying. Then, as an independent consultant I’ve traveled quite a bit by plane also. Thing is, when you fly a lot you make sure you get the cards from the airlines so you not only build up points, but you earn free upgrades and such.

    Also, a purchase I made that I got to write off as a business expense was noise-canceling earbuds. They cost a lot, but now that you can use electronic devices as long as the wifi is turned off I plug in as soon as I can lock in the seatbelts and I’m good to go.

  2. Tim Bonner August 26, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I remember my wife flew to Malaysia for work this time last year.

    I watched her flight on FlightAware every now and again from the UK, over the Middle East until she finally landed.

    It was just after the Malaysia Airlines flight had been shot out of the sky by those Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine and the other Malaysia Airlines flight went missing.

    I felt nervous that I might not see her again. Sounds silly but after 9-11 I really don’t like the idea of flying anywhere.

  3. Janine Huldie August 26, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Having just returned from flying to and from Disney World last week, I can honestly say I know what you mean about the joy of flying as it just hasn’t been the same since 9-11. That said, I still am with you and will take my chances as some magic will never, ever be exhausted here either 😉

  4. Danny Brown August 25, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Ah, flying – equal parts amazement and fear. At least when you’re driving a car, you control your destiny (unless some asshole is driving in the direction that means a head on with you). A plane? Yeah, buckle up and (hopefully) enjoy the ride.

    Like you say, it’s a shame to see where flying is now, thanks to over zealous TSA neanderthals. The US remains one of the least enjoyable travel experiences, and I’ve been to some places where they truly do need Special Forces security….

    Now,for me, flight remains the part when I can finally return to the friendliness of Canada’s border patrol. Fun times.

    • Jack Steiner August 25, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      There are steps that can be taken to make it easier and less cumbersome but I am not sure if the government will do so. Partly because I don’t believe it’s an issue in the same way for them as for us. .

  5. Jens-Petter Berget August 24, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    I used to like flying as well. It was an adventure. But, I’m actually afraid now. It’s not just the uncomfortable seats, it’s more about thinking about everything that can happen. I know that nothing will happen, at least if you look at the statistics, but it’s still something I’m a bit afraid to do.

  6. Julie August 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I had quite enough of flying when I lived in LA and had to travel for work every week, but what really killed it for me was “security” after 9-11. Flying internationally is like 12 hours of your life to take a 3 hour trip. Even the beaches have to do some catching up to make up for that 🙂 Safe travels and don’t forget to wave.

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