Fear of flying is irrational.
You are more likely to be bludgeoned by a member of your own family, trampled by an agitated donkey, or choke on a falafel than die mid-air. I would wager you are more likely to be killed by an estranged spouse, brandishing said falafel whilst riding an ass, than crash into the sea on a Boeing 747.
It happens, of course — but not often. In fact, how many people do you know that have been killed this way? Go on, count them.
Yet airports are filled with pensioners clutching rosary beads, unbelievers praying to sky gods, and divorcees self-medicating to “get through” the flight. Then, during jolts of turbulence, they clench strangers’ hands; never for a second taking their eyes off the latest Adam Sandler flick playing on the screen in front of them. And not even one of his good ones.
Fly frequently enough and you settle into a groove. You will get through check-in with just enough time to wander around the swimwear section before a plastic host greets you with a plastic smile. Then, with no dignity, you are forced to fight your way to your seat.
Then starts the flight attendants moronic and robotic parade up and down the aisle, passive aggressively telling me to put on a seatbelt. How do they have the temerity to lecture me on the nuances of aviation safety? Just because they have more air miles than a stork, sat a half day course, and can point to an exit, means zilch.
I listened once — years ago — when I was naïve and brimming with nervous energy. But as I listened, I could not silence a nagging doubt. It’s all very well talking about safety, but they had not mentioned the risks of donkeys, falafels, or uncles. It struck me that in no other situation would you take a safety lecture. Not from a perfume salesman or a waitress or a garbage man.
But I can admit when I have made an error of judgement. Chance and probability do not mean you are always going to be safe. But come on, the numbers should have been on my side, especially when I was assigned an emergency exit seat.
If cabin crew were doing their job properly, they would have noticed that I was not paying attention to their “lecture” and swapped my seat with a have-a-go hero. If in 2018, no system is in place to spot people like me, then it’s a problem that needs to be addressed by the entire industry.
Instead, they expect me to become accustomed to how the door works. It’s pandemonium. How could I begin to get the hang of it? Yet everyone glares, screams, and gestures at me — all of it laden with unpleasantness and desperation. There is such little dignity during emergencies.
I could try and explain that three minutes of instructions, mostly mimed, would not have prepared me for this. But I would run the risk of invalidating my travel insurance.
Besides, I know I cannot really make a difference. Especially now the water is up to my ankles. Still, I reckon if I turn the volume up I might be able to finish this episode of Aircraft Investigation in peace.