To those IRL (in real life), I’ve been gone two weeks.
But to you, dear readers, I’ve been gone a whole month.
My flight back to the doldrums was no cakewalk. 90 minutes aloft, in what resembled the agitating action of a high-efficiency front-loading washer. Turbulence, constant and hellish.
Before each and every one of you jump on my back in a race to call me a wussy (or worse), let me assure you that this was different. ‘Twas that famed “clear-air” variety, which sounds a lot more pleasant and refreshing than imminent peril. And although I’m no pilot, ours seemed big fans of using the rudder in a perfect mimicry of a car skidding on ice.
I made one critical mistake. While gripping my tray table with dual vise grips, fully convinced that a parachute exit would be preferable, I notice the flight attendant at the front of the cabin. She picks up the phone after hearing the familiar DING DING of the cockpit’s call, then spends a good 60-90 seconds just listening and saying very little.
While still on the phone, SHE STARTS PEERING OUT THE WINDOW.
That’s when I lose my shit. The phone is set back in the cradle, then she stands there looking very deliberately around her work area. 30 seconds later, she picks up the phone again and manages to squeak out something about seatbelts and their importance before the plane pitches down and my stomach finds its way into my throat.
I distinctly hear the cartoonish “dive” sound you hear in old war movies – rrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR! We’re still a good 45 minutes away from O’Hare, but a decision has been made to bring this baby way under cruising altitude. The very same flight attendant now has her flight manual out, flipping through what I imagine to be the emergency evacuation procedures.