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You know that episode of Family Guy where Peter gets to be on the news because he does a segment where he talks about what “grinds his gears”? I liked that and I think it needs to be real thing. I need to be able to vent, otherwise I would all be a dormant volcano ready to Vesuvius all over the next person unfortunate enough to incur my wrath. This nearly happened in seat 19B of American Airlines flight 2325, as we sat on the tarmac at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. The victims sitting within arm’s reach of me were able to smell the fumes coming from the top of my head as I boiled with a furious anger, seething and nearly exploding in a fashion that would likely have me typing this from that same airfield.
I recently had the misfortune of traveling across the country from Dallas to Chicago on business. I say “misfortune,” because traveling is inherently stressful. Anyone who says they “love to travel” could not possibly have ever been to an airport in real life. Getting to the airport is the first reason why flying is the worst. It takes pure talent to arrive to an airport with enough time to get your bags checked and through security yet still work this delicate process so that you don’t sit at your gate for what seems like a month before the plane is ready to board. It’s a damn hard shot to make and I’ve never been able to do it.
I can’t think of another place besides prison where you get to place all of your positions in a bowl and give it to a security guard, disrobe, have every part of you carefully examined, and pass through a check point that admits you to the rest of the facility. To make this worse, you have other prisoners, I mean passengers, moving behind you at a frenzied pace to make a flight that they didn’t prepare well enough for. You cannot win this game and you will lose every time. In my panic to get through the line without upsetting my inmates, I left my phone at the security line.
Flying is the worst.
After either waiting until someone dies a natural death before you can board, or doing your best Usain Bolt impression to make your flight, you get to stuff yourself into reason number 2 that flying is its own little hell. You get to sit in a cramped and claustrophobic tube with wings. The only cool part about getting on the plane is looking into the cockpit because it looks like the Millennium Falcon. I like to pretend Han and Chewy are up there, flying the plane. After passing the rebel duo, you get to find your seat while trying to avoid eye contact with strangers. Avoiding eye contact will be your main focus for the remainder of the flight. You will sit down and pray that everyone that walks by will not sit by you (while still avoiding eye contact) and the worst imaginable person will stop, check their boarding pass then wedge themselves into the seat next to you. I’ve never actually sat next to anyone I would even consider being temporary flight friends with. You always imagine some drop dead gorgeous member of the opposite sex would stop and casually say “Looks like I’m sitting next to you! Hope that’s okay. Do you want to get hammered on this plane together and maybe touch each other?” But, sadly, this only happens in movies and porn.
Flying is the worst.
Keep in mind that everything mentioned up to this point has been written under the assumption that everything involving air travel has gone relatively well, which is not true ever. Even if everything about the flight goes as a planned, you still have to rush through security checkpoints, check bags, and wait for Han Solo and Chewbacca (fun fact: spell check recognizes “Chewbacca”) to pick you up THEN serve your sentence on the plane. But what if there are complications? What if there are cancellations or weather delays OR THE PLANE IS BROKEN? Well, that’s reason number three that flying is the worst. The variables will happen and they will screw you and not even bother to text you the next day.
Recently, DFW got bent over by an ice storm, leaving large portions of north Texas looking like “Zoras Domain” in Zelda after it freezes over. With the whole region covered in thick sheets of ice, it was damn near impossible for planes to land and so DFW decided to close up shop and cancel all of the flights.
At this point I’m clear across the country and half way to oblivion at a bar in Chicago, when another coworker gets a text notifying us that some flights have been canceled. This would start a chain of events that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. First off, four drunken employees have been charged with the task of coordinating new flights, checking to make sure flights are still on time and/or obtaining new hotel reservations at 1am outside in Chicago during a windy December night. Somehow, which I’m quite certain was by drunk magic, we get new flights and hotel reservations, should we need them. While massively hungover, two of us make the new flights the next morning and patiently wait in the terminal, cradling our heads in our hands and eating chicken fingers from Chili’s To-Go. It’s not a trip to the airport unless you go to Chili’s To-Go. The flight boards and we take off for home. Five minutes prior to beginning our decent the pilot announces that DFW airport gave us clearance to land on the ice rink they called a tarmac then basically said “lol jk we closed muh fuh!” The next best option for getting home was to land in a field in Oklahoma City, which is exactly what we did. We landed in some remote airfield so that we wouldn’t run out of fuel, crash, and die, though that may have been a better alternative. This is where the Vesuvius eruption mentioned earlier almost occurred. The Asian lady next me, who doesn’t speak any English, is desperately hoping I learn her Asian dialect so I can explain what’s going on. I didn’t have my copy of Rosetta Stone on hand so that obviously wasn’t going to happen. In substitution of words, we worked out a primitive sign language which got the job done. We finally were able to refuel at the OKC airport, take off, tell DFW to cram it up their cram hole, and land on a giant sheet of ice. I’ve never so happy to leave an airport and I’m never traveling in the winter again.
Flying is the worst.