Monday, April 17, 2006

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I was catching a ride to work on Friday with my good friends at Southwest airlines.   I was able to get a seat in the cabin rather than having to sit on the extra “jump seat” in the cockpit.  I know that airline seats can be very uncomfortable but the cockpit jump seats are torture.  I settled in between two women and we all tried to hunker down in the sanctity of our “space.”  After takeoff and climbing through what was probably 10,000 feet, the airplane encountered some turbulence that made several passengers scream, including the poor women to my left.  She had a look of utter panic and looked at me for some kind of support.  I was in my uniform.  I told her that what just happened was no big deal and that as long as I wasn’t screaming; she had nothing to worry about.  Just then the airplane bounced hard and she started crying.  I reached out and took both of her hands in mine and she gripped them like they were a pair of winning lottery tickets.  She started to tell me how scared she has always been of flying and that she flies every week.  I just listened as she told me her story.  When the turbulence stopped, I let go of her hands and listened some more.  I realized that I was listening to a very nice human being, who like most of us just wants to live a good life and get along.  I heard about her family and job, her car and friends.  She lives in Sacramento but likes New Mexico.  Before I knew it, the rushing sound of air over the landing gear was filling my ears.  At the gate in Los Angeles I got off and she went on to another destination.  I will never see her again but her “thank you” kept a smile on my face for my redeye to Florida.  Be Safe, FlyGuy.


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3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine ... she flies every week! You were a godsend to her that day, but I can't imagine what she must go through when you're not there.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Jim Howard said...

I had an almost identical experience a few years ago.

I sat next to a woman who told me as we taxied out that she was competely terrified of flying, but had to do it.

She would jump everytime the plane taxied over a tar strip, and when we started the takeoff roll she was clearly on the verge of panic. She asked to hold my hand, which she kept in a death grip for almost the whole flight. I think she almost lost it when the flaps and gear went down.

After the flight I told her she was one of the bravest people I ever saw. How she even got on the plane with such a level of fear was amazing.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous My Sping On Things said...

In 2000 I was flying from PDX to LAX on one of many of our annual pilgramages to Disneyland on Alaska Airlines.

There was a pilot in uniform sitting behind me (we were in first class, and it was nearly an empty plane).

We hit what I now learned to be clear air turbulence. It came out of no where, and it was pretty violent.

Many of us gasped and actually screamed. A voice from the cockpit was very soothing and told us what this was, and ordered everyone back to their seats and to be belted in.

The pilot behind me patted me on the shoulder and I was clutching my husbands arm for dear life. And he told me to visualize pot hols in the road. Which is what turbulence was.

Things smoothed out for about 20 minutes then whammo it happened again - this time it was much harder and more violent than the last time.

I couldn't help it, I turned around and said -- "Pretty big fucking pot hole don't you think?"

The pilot laughed at me and said "Touche"

I was never so glad to land.

12:35 PM  
Blogger BrianR said...


9:14 AM  

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