Friday, April 12, 2013

The worst flight

I flew from Seattle to Asheville in a windstorm that blew over the entire country. For seventeen hours, three delayed flights and four crowded airports, I kept my hands pressed over my face, looking out from the space between my peace fingers when I had to see.  I couldn't stand to not be in Asheville for one more second.

When I was finally buckled safely in my seat on the little prop plane out of Charlotte, I closed my eyes, felt my brain spinning backwards into an exhausted hole, and tried not to think about the huge gusts of wind barreling over the runway.

Then the flight attendant reached for the PA mic and clicked it on with manicured fingers. "Ladies and gentlemen," she said brightly, "welcome to United flight 446 to Asheville. If you're wondering why this flight has been delayed, it's because a plane at the Asheville airport crashed on landing."

I've never heard a silence quite like the one that followed.

Finally someone in the back row asked, "Why did you have to tell us that?"

The flight attendant kept smiling as she unhooked the microphone and took a moment to click it back on. "I didn't want you to see the clean up crews and worry." She had a charmingly southern accent.

It was comforting to know there'd been a plane crash. Otherwise we'd have seen the debris and worried that there'd been a plane crash.

After we'd lifted into the air, the pilot came over the PA system. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're anticipating an extremely turbulent flight so please remain in your seats. If you're wondering why we're delayed, it's because the plane before us crashed on landing and they had to clear the runway."

The flight attendant was nodding enthusiastically.

It was the worst flight.

By the time the plane dropped out of the sky and bounced onto the tarmac, I was filmed in sweat. I may have crawled across the runway and into the street where a single taxi was idling in the heat.

"Wow!" exclaimed the driver as he threw my bag into the trunk. "You look like you're having a nervous breakdown!"

I just nodded and folded myself into the backseat.

"But you know what?"

What, I asked.

"So am I, honey. So. Am. I." Then he started laughing, and I started laughing, and we cruised down 240 East with the windows down and the radio up.

(The flight that crashed into Asheville airport on April 8th was a private plane. Nobody was killed.)


Anonymous said...

Very well written. I like the brevity, because we can all fill in the details as we've all had "that flight." Yikes.

Sarah said...

...thanks for sharing! Love your writing.

I can totally relate to this post...wind + flying + turblance. I live in a remote communitiy in the Arctic. It's a windy place... I've seen the 3 windsocks on the runway at the airport point in different directions.

Having those types of flights suck, but it's always good to be back at home!

RKDT said...

this is one of my favorites. When a piece about a flight is not about the flight...Way to go, Taxi Man.

Kristin said...

Loved this.

What I'm waiting for is the post that announces your book deal. Or your book.


Day-nick-uh said...

Ugh I feel you. As someone who flies a lot, spring has unfortunately become synonymous with "horrible flights." Way to tough it out!

Side note: You should totally contact the airline and let them know what the (crazy?!) flight attendant/pilot said. You'll likely get free miles/flights out of it.. not that you are looking forward to flying again anytime soon, but someday it might come in handy.

AndTheSunWentDown said...

I agree with everyone in these comments- love the brevity of this piece, makes it punchy, yes please someone get this one a book deal, yes complain about the crazy!!!

Susan said...

Holy crap! I would have kisses the ground.

Lorri said...

Ugh. Sounds horrific. Glad you made it to tell the tale.

cindy said...

So am I, honey. So am I. We all are, every damn one of us. Why is it so fucking hard to say so, and such a relief when someone does? I love me a good honest cabbie, so much.

Stacey said...

Beautiful post. Love it!

SmithShack71 said...

Dig the taxi driver though.


Michelle T said...

Awesome post.
So glad you're safe (as well as those on the crashed plane).

colleen said...

Everything's going to be ok. Just remember I'm only a phone call and a quality pep talk away (:

Unless I'm at the library, in which case you're S.O.L. Sorry sister, but it's a quiet place.

Angela said...

You are one hell of a storyteller!

Ashley said...

I just wanted to tell you that your words are better than my favorite, beat-to-shit quilt that's full of holes. That was awkward,'s so wonderful, comforting, and calming to come here and read your stories. I'm stuck behind a desk, studying for my DVM and trying to squeeze in adventures whenever I can. Thanks for helping me realize that part of the adventure is just figuring shit out along the way, and rolling with the punches. I think you're awesome. Take care, and give Hometeam a squeeze for me.

Susan said...

After reading some of your posts about strange crap that has happened to you I would have said, Yup, I am outta here..glad you made it safe. Plus it made for a fabulous blog post!

Sarah Koznek said...

I laughed out loud on this one