So then… the plane shudders and moans – and my stomach flops and churns.
I’m usually a pretty calm traveler –
but the plane makes a SUDDEN and SHOCKING DROP!
The passengers emit a collective gasp!
It’s the Tower of Terror times a million. And what’s worse is that the cockpit is strangely silent. No intercom announcements like “whoops, sorry about that folks — just spilled my latte in my lap, we’re back on course now.”
And no “Oh, so THAT’S what that button does.” Nothing. We fly in spooky silence.
And NOW, we can’t seem to land. Something about the excessive heat and winds in Nevada today make the plane SHAKE violently – along with a horrifying, THUNDEROUS noise.
So the pilot brings the plane back up.
He circles and tries to land again, but the same thing happens – deafening noise and visible signs that the plane is literally SHAKING like it’s about to SHATTER.
A third attempt fails.
By now, even the most stoic macho world-weary world travelers are sitting up, half leaning, craning to look out the window, asking “what’s happening?!” and “what the hell?!”
THE PLANE FEELS LIKE IT IS GOING TO SHAKE COMPLETELY APART!
People are literally shouting expletives — and some are practically hyperventilating.
I am numb with terror.
If people around me remain calm, I can hold it together. But when they start to freak out, I turn into a puddle of panic.
I silently grip the arm rests, eyes wide, heart hammering.
On the fourth attempt — plane shaking, skittering, dipping, pounding – and emitting an ear-piercing noise – we land!
And something amazing happens.
As soon as we’re grounded, everyone experiences a collective amnesia of the past 30 minutes.
It’s like it never happened.
People grab belongings out of the overhead bins, check cell phones for messages, stuff books into purses.
Their faces indicate that they’re already thinking about which rental car counter they need to visit, scheduling their son’s orthodontist appointment, paying the property taxes by Friday, and…life goes on.
I want to shout:
“OH MY GOD, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED? WE ARE SO LUCKY TO BE ALIIIIIVE!”
But they’re just chatting on phones, filing out of the plane with all their briefcases, purses, and overnight bags in tow.
It’s like the selective amnesia you have after 12 hours of brutal child labor that makes you think, “Ah, that wasn’t so bad. Let’s get pregnant again!”
But after those four terrifying landing attempts, I do not forget.
No, I hold that fear like a cold dark claw in my chest, ready to rip my heart out at the slightest provocation – a flight…..a mention of a flight…..a paper airplane.
Once a laidback traveler, I am now like a cat on a hot tin roof – on meth.
A Meth Cat.
Take a high-strung cat.
And a strung-out meth-head.
That is me.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any travel tales of terror? Share your survival stories in the Comments below. But ONLY survival tales please. If you are dead, do NOT write about the travel disaster that got you there. That will totally mess with my Meth Cat Mind right now, and I’m NOT havin’ it.)