Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

I've always been a nervous flyer, but my flight coming back from Vegas Sunday night took me to a new level from nervous nelly to bona fide freak.

With the help of a prescribed Valium, I was actually able to doze off shortly after we'd finished our ascent and the pilot told us we could expect a relatively smooth ride. I guess, in retrospect, you could call it a smooth ride in relation, to say, riding shotgun with a drunk Hilton at the wheel down Hollywood Boulevard, but that's about it. Seconds after I drifted off, the plane lurched violently to the left and then dipped low enough to the point I had to look out the window to make sure we still had enough room in between us and the ground.

I quickly wrapped both my arms around the armrest hoping to steady myself (and, secretly, the plane), but realized I was shaking too violently to even sit still. I'd completely lost control of my body. My mouth went dry, and I downed the water bottle I'd grudgingly paid two bucks for at the start of the flight. It was like I'd swallowed sand. I ran to the back of the plane where the flight attendants were sitting and threw open the curtain.

"Water!" I gasped, holding two dollar bills. The flight attendants handed me another water bottle and I quickly took my seat again and downed the bottle in less than a second. I ran back with more money and asked for more water. I got even more agitated realizing I could've enjoyed a couple of rum cocktails with all the money I was spending on water. After the attendants handed me yet another bottle, I just stood there, shaking like a leaf, and told them I couldn't sit down.

"You have to take your seat. Just take deep breaths," one of the attendants told me.

As my teeth were chattering a mile a minute, the deep breath thing was virtually impossible. I reluctantly walked back to my seat, hitting the head of pretty much everyone along the way, as I had to grip each seat down the aisle due to my excessive shaking. At this point, I was pretty sure I was known as the freak in row 12. I seriously contemplated spreading out on the aisle, convinced I just needed to lie down, but thankfully was able to restrain myself. I'm pretty sure I might've been escorted out in handcuffs had I tried it.

Luckily, I was allowed to visit my friend in first class for a few moments, and she was able to calm me down to the point where I wasn't in danger of getting into a fistfight with the guy sitting in front of me due to overzealous kicking of his seat.

Aside from being extremely embarrassed, I was OK. I'd never had a panic attack, but I'm guessing that's just what I'd experienced. At least I wasn't able to check myself into the ER this time.