It normally begins with a spark. A tiny spark will ignite and create a flame, which will spread, creeping eerily fast – then comes the smoke. Trail of smoke envelopes in from the cockpit, slithering along as if a snake coming to wrap it self around you. And then yelling! Screams everywhere. One person begins to scream and then follows, the entire cabin, as smoke engulfs the void while the lights flicker with bells ringing. People being thrown around like rag dolls, ejected from their seats and then back down on to the ground with lightning speed. Meat, gravy, rice, drink everywhere. Then Boom! You look to your right and there is a ferocious ball of fire on the wing. Before you can take your eyes off it, the emergency exit door a few rows ahead of you is violently ripped apart with so much power. Within seconds – the horror – a passenger is sucked out of the cabin as if swallowed by a black hole – we have gone past the event horizon. One by one, passengers disappear into the ether. The horror in their eyes for a flash second as they are taken away. Another BOOM! I can feel it – this is the end. Have I lived my life to the fullest? Have I been kind? Did I tell my loved ones I really loved them? This is my final goodbye…
‘Do you want a coffee?’ I can hear a muffled voice. I let it ring out. Is this how you are greeted when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? ‘OI! Do you want coffee?!?!’ I hear again – this time with a whisp of annoyance. ‘Huh?!!?’ I say, very much confused. Slowly my eyes open, the blur becomes more focused. I look down at my feet, and they are firmly planted on the carpet. Sea green coloured carpet. I never understood why airports have unattractive coloured carpets in the waiting lounges. It really makes an unpleasant experience even more unpleasant. Nobody is dead? I ask myself.
I think I’ve had one of those ‘episodes’ again.
This is normal for me. I often drift away into very cataclysmic hallucinations in airports. They usually begin a few days before flying and get more and more deranged as the ETD approaches. All this, because I am afraid of flying. I hate it with a passion. More than going to the dentist, or Mondays, or Miley Cyrus or falling down the escalator in a crowded shopping mall. I like to be in control of a situation and the moment I lose it, I feel powerless. I feel helpless, and start to compensate for this by constructing vivid scenarios in my head. This helps me feel like I have ‘options’ in case anything goes wrong. The only problem is, when there is no option at the end. I lose control of any rationality.
On one occasion, this is why I didn’t understand why I booked to fly on a Friday which happened to be a 13th. What was I thinking??? I must not have been thinking. Period. It actually didn’t occur to me until about a week before travel. I was updating my calendar at work looking like this:
You know, how we all block time off on the calendar, and put some exotic location as the reason why with a smug look on our face…
Suddenly I saw the day I was flying out, and the smug turned into this:
Panic. Quick, move the date forward. Wait I’ve already paid. Suddenly, Satan was having a party in my head. All the morbid thoughts were coming in, one before the other ended. All possible aviation scenarios, worse than any expert can come up with, were going through my head – until the departure date…
D-Day had arrived. I was being lead to the abattoir. I kept looking at every single landmark on the way, as if it were the last time I would see it. There was bird poop on the car. It was beautiful. I never noticed the swirly yellow textures of bird poop.
We arrived at the airport. I really wasn’t looking forward to the waiting and security checks etc. These things were only going to make my last day on earth worse than it should be. But, I was in for a surprise. Apparently I wasn’t the only one afraid to fly on Friday the 13th (I was the only one stupid enough to book a flight though). There were no queues in sight, and the staff were actually friendly. They didn’t look like they were pretending to smile, I think they genuinely meant it. The security checks were a breeze, and I had time to have a full proper meal! Oh, and I also made it to the destination, as you can tell.
So, that was that. Isn’t it ironic? There must have been hundreds like me across different timezones that day actually enjoying smooth departures. I am not sure how many were there by accident like me, or how many were there on purpose (avoiding the normal crowds)? Bottom line is, The day I was afraid of flying the most was probably the most calm day of all to fly. It put my fears in to perspective. I wasted over a week in a Final Destination thriller written and directed by me, paying no attention to anything else around me. All that for what? All due to an irrational fear. It was fear due to lack of control. I am not flying the jumbo, so I am not in control. In many cases the fear is more in the mind rather than in reality, and we are often running away from real life hiding from shadows. They are irrational. I know It’s easier said than done, but next time I get on a plane, I will remind myself how much easier it was to fly on Friday the 13th. What about you? Any irrational fears?