Dorothy again. The International Man of Intrigue, perhaps feeling guilty after reading my highly worried e-mail, Skyped with me this morning. He said, "I didn't crash. If I did, I wouldn't have been able to e-mail you from my hotel." I said, "Try telling that to Tall Twist and my other friends from the international copy machine corporation I used to work for." He said, "I thought the airline called that a "botched landing" or something?" I said, "Well, I can't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure the lawsuit made the airline call it a crash." Then he sent me this:
So there I was, cruising at 37000 feet and minding my own business when this Sri Lanka Airbus 300 decided it wanted to land. Why? I don’t know. In the sky there were only random pockets of turbulence and a vague memory of scary takeoff-associated noises. Why did we have to spoil the moment with adding the possibility of becoming a flaming 300 mile per hour lawn dart? Why did we have to mess anymore with the laws of gravity? Couldn’t we just fly up here until technology caught up to Star Trek and we could beam ourselves directly to the baggage claim? Apparently, loitering is frowned upon for adolescents and airplanes with finite amounts of fuel.
The plane’s moans and groans increased as we lost elevation. Suddenly, I thought back to Mr. Stewart’s 7th grade algebra class: This plane is like a mathematics equation, and what happens on one side of the equals sign has to happen on the other side of the equals sign. If we go down, noise has to go up. Does that make sense? I could almost see the pilot fighting to control the aircraft while the co-pilot solved for “X”. I crossed my fingers and hoped he had paid attention in class and not had to write, “I will not talk in Mr. Stewart's mathematics class without permission” as many times as I did. Wow, life could be ending and I could think only of Mrs. Johnson’s geometrical advice from 1992: “Everyone says you don’t need math after high school, but you will.”
The plane bounced, squealed, and moaned as we committed ourselves to the final approach. Why did it have to be a “final” approach? I’ve seen “Top Gun” and “Air Force One” enough to believe we might have a couple of shots at this if the first attempt to get on the ground doesn’t look so good. But Final? Yes, Ghostrider, the pattern is indeed full.
I gripped the arm rest tighter than screw in a nut house.
Thoughts: Should I look out the window? Do I even want to look? I’ve never liked surprises, but maybe I should let this landing be a surprise? Am I wearing flame resistant materials? Is this shirt a cotton blend or all synthetic? Why am I the only one about to lose it?
I pulled my eyes off the window and looked around the cabin. A few rows ahead of me sat a Westerner. I remember seeing him when we boarded, and I thought he looked familiar. Not, “Hey we went to school together” familiar, but more like, “He’s on TV” familiar. *note. To the surprise of every taxi driver I have ever had in India, all Westerners do NOT know each other. But I thought I did know this guy. His hair was short and white, but he wasn’t much older than 40. He was dressed like he fell out of a GQ mazazine. And, he hadn’t looked up from his iPad since I spotted him. OMG! Could it be CNN correspondent and media darling Anderson Cooper? No. Of course it wasn’t Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper was probably in business class receiving his “we’re about to die in a huge fire ball” complimentary chocolates and souvenir gift bag. All I had was a lousy Sri Lankan Air refresher towelette packet in my shirt pocket and a boarding pass that said 33K (AKA, not far enough back to be in survivor seating!) Could that be Anderson Cooper? I couldn’t quite see.
My vision of Mr. Maybe Anderson Cooper was partially obstructed by a large closed circuit TV monitor hanging above the center aisle. By a what? Holy crap, I think we were supposed to be able to watch the plane land from a nose-mounted camera, but the left-right-up-down bounce of the monitor made focusing on the picture a little difficult. Be it the CCTV or the window, I was going to watch this thing unfold whether I wanted to or not.
Then it happened. The wheels touched down for a millisecond, bounced off the ground, and set down again. Actually, I was relieved to know the landing gear was still there. The plane surged down the runway and struggled to reduce its speed. It felt as though the pilot was downshifting instead of using his breaks. Wow, this guys is good, I thought. Only a pro can engine break. It lengthens the life of your brakes and is also more fuel efficient. Wait a second, planes don’t have transmissions! Again, WTH?!
We lurched and chugged to the terminal. I expected people to clap, cheer, and celebrate our near death experience. It turned out they only wanted to turn on their smart phones and check email. Even Mr. Maybe Anderson Cooper didn’t seem to care.
The remainder of my journey was uneventful…until this morning. Almost exactly 12 hours later I was the first guest to hit the breakfast buffet, and it was nothing short of AMAZING. I lifted each lid to find the best breakfast spread I’ve ever seen. Fresh squeezed OJ. Made to order omelets in which the choices were only the ingredients I enjoy in my omelets. Pancakes, waffles, Frosted Flakes. Potato salad with little bits of bacon. LITTLE BITS OF BACON IN THE POTATO SALAD FOR BREAKFAST! For a guy that isn’t normally excited about food, I was in heaven!
Then, a 6th Sense: Maybe that plane didn’t land. Maybe Haley Joe Bob will need the assistance of an Army Foreign Area Officer, but it will turn out that I am the one that really needs his help. Maybe that was my final approach, and this is the afterlife. Well, I guess it could be worse. The wifi is ok and there’s a gym. This will do.
Wait, where are the donuts? Heaven has to have donuts! If this isn’t heaven, then… AGH!!!
The devil’s greatest feat was convincing man he did not exist…and creating a hell void of donuts.