WHEN PLUNGING TO YOUR DEATH IS IMMINENT
Airline passengers fall into two groups: those who can handle turbulence, and those who cannot.
So when we started bouncing around somewhere over Kansas I went into full freak: teeth clenched, hands gripping arm rests, eyes squeezed shut, feet applying brakes via the seat in front of me.
A flight attendant voice came over the speaker: “Garblegarblegarble Emergency garblegarblegarble Emergency.” The seat-belt sign shone a desperate white. Again: “Garblegarble Emergency . . . garblegarblegarble Emergency. Garblegarble.”
I prepared to die. Mainly, I was running through the list of things I hadn’t finished, stuff I had planned to leave beautifully organized for my mourning children, the dead flowers and moldy coffee cup from my departure a week ago. Then I started thinking: my laptop will go down with me; how can posterity survive without my laptop?
The couple next to me kept right on scrolling through their devices. Eating pretzels, for heaven’s sake. Who eats pretzels on their way into the hereafter?
I stole glances at other passengers. You’d think they were relaxing in a stretch limo.
We bounced more vigorously. I opened a conversation with God, who definitively told me She had other things to worry about so that didn’t help much.
After about five minutes, which seemed a small eternity to me, we leveled off. Just like that, the airplane remained in the skies, with me safely buckled into seat 24F. My laptop still connected to wifi.internet.com.
When the seatbelt sign went off I made a trip to the restroom. Before returning to my seat I could not resist asking the flight attendant what she had been saying, in those announcements that were totally unintelligible other than the Emergency! Emergency! Business.
“Oh,” she said with a smile. “Someone had pushed their call button. We were just asking them to push it twice if it were a true emergency, as we were buckled in and could only respond if it were an emergency.”
I was happy when the non-garbled announcement came: “Welcome to San Francisco . . .”