Let me tell you about the time I should have crashed on a deserted island.
I came home several times a year during college, primarily on holidays and semester breaks, but occasionally on long weekends in between. Most of the time I took the Greyhound bus, which was an agonizing 12-14 hour drive surrounded by weirdos, but which was very cheap and possible to book at the last minute. For some reason I always thought it would be a good idea to take the overnight bus (see, you just go to sleep and when you wake up you’re home!) and then I would spend the night in a fearful daze wondering if the guy sitting next to me would try to chop off my head. Or run a hand up my leg, take your pick. By maintaining constant paranoid vigilance (and sitting next to another college girl whenever the opportunity presented itself) I avoided both of these tragedies for all four years.
But I digress! Once in a while I would plan far enough ahead to justify the expense of a round trip plane. On one of my trips in 2005 I kept notes about the other people waiting for my flight.
There were two Navy boys, one from Kansas and one from Virginia. They wore excellent cowboy hats. When a woman walked straight through the boarding area to grab something she forgot on the airplane (almost causing a security incident as employees screamed and ran after her), the Navy boys vouched that she did indeed just debark that plane, for they had been checking her out. Good work, boys. This gave them the confidence to more loudly check out other women as they walked by.
There was one super artsy emo girl wearing black shoes, black and white striped hose, a fluffy black shirt, and an amazingly fuzzy green coat. She wore narrow glasses and an elaborate forward-swept hairdo, and she spent the entire time scribbling furiously in a notebook.
(I’m aware of the fact that I, too, was scribbling in a notebook. I wonder if she has comparable notes!)
There was an older man in the middle of a cell phone business call. He kept absent-mindedly trying to lift his broken luggage handle, which would of course thunk right back down. Over and over and over…
There were two extremely frazzled middle-aged women, though they were not related to one another. The first woman caused a boarding delay, because a bag fell out of her checked luggage and instead of putting it back the airport tracked her down and sent her through the security checkpoint again so she could carry it on board. She was understandably worried that more of her belongings might have mysteriously exploded out somewhere.
The second woman frantically ran up late for takeoff, and was therefore relieved to find out about the boarding delay. No sooner did she sit down than she realized she had lost an entire armload of books on the run over. An armload! She ran off again in search of them–incidentally, leaving her jacket behind.
Throughout all the delays and security issues, the cat-calling cowboys and the cell phone businessman, I kept making incredulous eye contact with the adorable old lady sitting across from me. She was pure, jolly, crinkly-faced grandma and she kept laughing about how ‘goofy’ the airport was. I feel you, grandma.
We finally boarded the plane.
The most chipper stewardess I have ever encountered in my life went dead solemn to ask the man in the emergency exit seat if he was prepared to do all it takes to help his fellow passengers escape in a crisis. She then cheerfully went on to demonstrate the safety details while giggling like mad.
It was at that point I grew convinced that we’d soon crash and be stranded on an island together, because the morning had been pure disaster movie set-up and why would the universe mess around like that?
As you can probably guess, the plane did not crash. I never had my island adventure with the cowboys, the goth girl, the businessman, the grandmother, the giggly stewardess, and the absent-minded power-reader. I imagine that the woman with the luggage trouble must have had a survival kit in her bag– a survival kit which would have been lost in the ocean along with the rest of our checked luggage, if it had not fortuitously fallen out during pre-boarding.
It would have been a good modern retelling of Gilligan’s Island. Oh well! Only in my dreams. One of these days I’ll compile some fond (read: scary) memories of riding the bus. Until then, adieu!
Ah heck, why not leave you with one more airplane anecdote. Straight from my journal:
“Upon reaching the airport, I learned that my flight was cancelled! And that the computer automatically rebooked me for tomorrow at 7 a.m. Luckily I was there way too early, because the woman managed to get me on an earlier flight for today.
“While rebooking I got five messages on my cell phone. Two from my mom, saying my flight was canceled, one from my boyfriend saying my flight was canceled, one from the Orbitz guy saying my flight was canceled, and one from my brother saying hooray! His girlfriend is not pregnant!
“I’ve called them all back and now I’ve boarded my new plane and we are ready to go.”