My flight begins with frustation as I unsuccessfully try to check in online at home before leaving for the airport. I bought my flight through Expedia. Expedia says it’s an American Airlines flight but American won’t let me check in because the flight is operated by Alaska Airlines. I go to Alaska’s website where none of my confirmation codes work. I begrudgingly give up. Effortlessly enough, with needlessly wasted energy and stress, we wind up printing our tickets at the airport.
Our pilot informs us that the flight is now delayed. He vaguely describes some box that helps the plane push off – that an indicator light is letting him know that it needs serviced. So here we sit, waiting for the mechanics to add oil or do whatever magic they need to perform to get the plane safe and operating properly. It’s hot. I’m irritable. And sadly, it’s just the beginning.
E and I are in row 7. Up in row 6 are Melissa, Mike and Nate, 3 people who hadn’t known each other before this flight. How do I know that? Because they haven’t shut their mouths for even a slight moment since they sat down and buckled up. Oh, they’re fast on their way to being best friends or maybe friends with benefits. Treating their bulkhead row like it’s some shitty college bar, Mike and Nate both attempt to be witty in trying to sleep with Melissa. They smile and flirt in their overt attempts to make this serendipitous encounter a memorable beginning to their San Francisco vacation.
The plane finally pulls away from the gate and heads toward the runway. My heart rate increases, breaths become shallow and anxiety rises as my thoughts spiral out of control. I am going to die. The plane will lift off the runway briefly, crashing back down to the ground in a fiery crescendo of finality. Everything I’ve accomplished and experienced in my almost 35 years on this earth ends today, now. I reluctantly accept my fate, that all signs pointed here, to this, my final moment of consciousness, where the last thing I’ll have heard (besides the screams of all my fellow passengers) is the endless chatter of Melissa, Mike and Nate – all just trying to get laid.
15 minutes later we’re at cruising altitude and my anxiety fades. I’m finally able to relax my mind and allow it to slip into cruise control. Gin, tonic and some ’88 Jerry Garcia Band drown out my incessant over-analyzation as we continue our journey toward San Francisco.
To be continued.