The Bumpy Ride

Ron White

Ron White (Blue Collar Comedy Tour)

…. “Hey man, if one of the engines goes out, how far will the other one take us?” I look at him. “All the way to the scene of the crash! Which is pretty lucky, because that’s where we’re headed! I bet we beat the paramedics by a good half hour! We’re haulin’ ass!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Bumpy Ride

“I’ve never flown in a plan before” announces the guy sitting next to me. “Oh really” sez I, feeling bored and jaded already. I’m the experienced traveler, you see. Isn’t that what we do? Noise canceling headphones crammed in our ears, face in a book, doing our best to pretend we are in our den, our own private Universe. Well, then what’s the point of leaving in the first place?

I snuck a few peeks at the plane virgin sitting next to me. A thin country looking boy, dirty nails, clean clothes. Probably worked a blue-collar job, mechanic or something. I don’t remember why he was flying. I wish that I remembered now. As I browsed the Sky Mall magazine he methodically examined every nook and cranny on the arm of the seat, the remote for screen in the seat back, the tray table, and everything over head that could be fiddled with.

707 Barrel Roll

He occasionally talked to me. Asked how often I flew, what was the longest flight I had been on, how far away. He seems fascinated by everything I had to say. I was completely bored. Drinks came, I had a gin and tonic, he had a coke. Dinner came, he scrutinized and commented on everything on his tray. Ate every last crumb. I gave him my roll, yogurt and a package of crackers scrounged out of my backpack. He ate those too and fell asleep like kitten curled up against the window.

He woke up later and started talking again, about his mother, his girlfriend, niece, etc. Mid sentence we hit a bump of turbulence. His eyes widened but he kept talking. More turbulence, a little worse. I told him “oh this is normal, really nothing, I’ve been through much worse than this.” Little Miss Know it All traveler. I tempted the Gods. They were listening. The fasten seat belt sign came on, the bumping got worse. The flight attendant announced a brief interruption of the beverage service. By this time we were riding  a bucking bronco. All we needed now was a cowboy hat and a “yee haw! ” The kid looked at me, I looked at him. He had a question in his eyes. Like a child who wanted to be told everything was going to be just fine. I realized that, since I cast myself in the role of seasoned traveler, it was my job to keep it together. Right there, right then. I told him “yea this a bit bad, but it won’t last long.”

Don't Panic

Then turbulence got really bad. We were near the galley and could see the flight attendants scrambling to strap themselves in. The plane was shaking so hard that over heads starting popping open and luggage fell out. I wondered if there were any barf bags in the seat back. The kid was gripping the arm of his seat not saying anything now. I reached out and patted his hand trying to be reassuring, maternal. Right then the bottom dropped out. The plane lost altitude so fast that anything not tied down flew up in the air including my stomach. But, I was too scared to puke. The captain came on and made some semi-soothing but mostly indecipherable speech.

We went down to a lower altitude and things settled down. I attempted to sip my forgotten gin and tonic, but the contents had gone elsewhere. Maybe landing on the guy in front of me. Perhaps that’s why he woke up with a snort. He been snoring like a freight train.

I looked down and realized then that I had a death grip on this poor kid’s arm. His hand was actually starting to claw up. He was just looking at me, too polite to tell me that I was hurting him. Too polite to point out that I, the seasoned traveler, was obviously terrified. I let go of his arm and mumbled “sorry.” He sad “no problem” and went back to chatting about his family. This time I listened. We landed safely. He went his way, I went mine.

Why do we isolate ourselves when we travel? Try to stay in a cocoon, keep everything like home. The destination is not the only part of the journey. Actually it is a small part. The are so many adventures in between.

4 responses

  1. I really like this post, it’s so honest. I’m not an experienced traveler but I think I might have pretended to be, just to not sound so gauche.

    1. Nah don’t pretend, I’m finding that’s much more fun to be yourself.

  2. Aww. Don’t feel so bad 🙂 Just seeing that Grand Canyon gives me a heart attack. If I saw it from a plane, they would have to take me off the plane in a straight jacket.

  3. Your story reminds me of the first time I flew. I was petrified, but I acted very cool, sort of. I was flying to Las Vegas with my new husband and the Captain decided that every one on the right side of the plane should see The Grand Canyon, “Ladies and Gentlement, on your right you will see the Grand Canyon,” and sharply banked to the right so we could get a good view. I, of course, had a window seat. I felt like I was standing on my head, and I lost it, totally. I was mortified. Then we were almost to Las Vegas, and you have a moment when it feels as if the engines stop. I was crying at that point. I am sure my fellow passengers thought I had lost my mind.

    I couldn’t have isolated myself if I wanted to because to many people were affected by my flying experience. It is not the best memory I have, but it sure makes the family laugh if flying is brought up (excuse the punn).

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