Terror At 15 FeetPosted on Jan 10, 2012 | 2 comments
I'm not really sure how or why I started going crazy on planes. I flew as a kid sometimes and that never seemed to bother me. Something just happened along the way, and some time after I got married I started developing a fear of flying. And when I say fear, I mean like real, hardcore, I can't breath kind of stuff. Fear that would pretty much drive me to spend the bulk of a flight curled up on the plane's bathroom floor with a tube of prescription meds and some overpriced drinks from the beverage cart.
Once, before we had kids, I went particularly nuts on a trip from Seattle to Boston. It had snowed the night before and ice was everywhere. In my mind, snow and ice cause planes to turn into balls of fire and my nerves were shot. I popped way too much Valium just before boarding and the next 7 hours passed by for the world without me being a part of it.
I woke to find myself sitting next to my wife on the plane. We were on the ground and I was drugged up. I put the messy pieces of the moment together and realized we had landed.
Fantastic! I was thrilled we had landed safely and I had slept through the whole flight, but I still wanted off. I got up from my seat and went to grab my bags from the overhead.
Heidi: What are you doing?
Justin: I'm getting off this @%$^*@ deathtrap - let's go.
Heidi's face drops.
Heidi: Hun . . . we haven't left yet.
Now, I don't know if anyone has ever timed how fast a grown man can go from calm and sedated to a completely paranoid, sweaty mess, but I'm pretty sure on this day I entered the top 10.
Justin (now much paler than usual): F it! C'mon - we're driving.
Heidi: Sit down. We're not driving. It's like 3,000 miles!
Justin: I don't care if it's around the damn world! I'm not dying on this plane!
At this point I'm yelling. Understand, most of the time you won't hear me. I pretty much fly under the radar in public. I don't make a scene - except on American Airlines of course. At airports, I've kind of got that whole Incredible Hulk thing going on - minus the green and the muscles.
Anyway, now I have people's attention. Now everyone else is starting to sweat. What I didn't understand at the time in my doped up, paranoid state, was that everyone else had been on this plane, awake, for 7 hours - and we hadn't even moved. Not good!
Heidi: Sit down!
Justin: Where's the waitress?
Heidi: What waitress? What are you talki-
Justin: I'm not gonna make it! Look at me! I'm getting off this plane!
I'm out. I start trotting down the aisle towards the exit. No coat. No bags. No wife.
Heidi: Where are you -
The waitress, I mean stewardess, stops me.
Stewardess: Sir, you can't -
I bang a left, run into the bathroom and lock the door.
Justin (yelling from the bathroom like a 5 year old): Uhhhhh . . . . I'll be right out waitress!
That was last thing I remember saying on that American Airlines flight from Seattle to Boston.
Heidi says I came out of the bathroom rather quickly claiming I had taken all my pills. She says I ordered a couple of drinks from the stewardess and passed out in 15 minutes. I guess that was the best case scenario for everyone. Obviously, Heidi is a saint and I was insane, but I learned my lesson.
We flew as a family last year to Seattle with the kids and got stranded for 4 days due to an east coast blizzard. Everything went "wrong". They sent all our luggage to Boston without us. So, 4 days, a 5-and 2-year old, and nothing but tissues and diapers with us. We were forced to fly all over the country to get back home. I didn't bring any Valium, I didn't drink, and instead I spent my time showing the kids everything out the windows of the plane and we made the whole trip into an unexpected, but fantastic, vacation. That was a choice. I overcame my fear by choice.
I won't say that I like flying, but I'm not afraid of it anymore. You make an ass out of yourself enough and you'll be forced to get over your fears pretty quickly - especially when you have kids! It's bad enough that a couple hundred people out there remember me as "that guy on the plane" who let his fears totally get the best of him, but my kids won't know me as that. And of course, if you want to travel the world forever, you kinda have to be able to fly every now and then.
I know a lot of people want to do things and say they "can't" because of . . .
I used to say stuff like that. I used to avoid flying at all costs because I had that whole Hulk thing going on and I was just plain scared, but I got over it. Fear can make you crazy. I didn't want my kids being limited and learning about fear via me. They're happier without it I think, and I KNOW Heidi is!
I've overcome a lot of pretty serious fears. I got stuck on a mountain once - frozen with fear! Well, maybe it was a actually a hill, but I was stuck. That story is on it's way.
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