By Michael J Paluka
I normally avoid flying
at all costs. I'm not so much afraid of crashing as I am of the endless
waiting - the wait to board; the wait to take-off; the wait for the
brat in the third row to stop crying.
Actually, the kid knows
more about the flight plan than the pilot; he never shuts-up until exactly
ten-minutes before landing.
"What's the course, Captain?"
"We'll just head east until
the brat shuts-up."
I feel embarrassed for the
mother -- but what can she do? I think that airplanes should have a
special place for mothers with children, such as de-icing the wings.
I was flying from L.A. to
New York on business. I was glad to leave. I had spent so much time
with the phony jerks in L.A. that I forgot what the "real" ones were
While waiting for take-off,
I noticed that I was sitting right next to an emergency exit door. Well,
at least I won't have to worry about burning -- I'll be trampled to
death by the other passengers.
A stewardess escorted an
elderly Japanese man into the seat next to me. His face was haggard
and his hands were shaking. His suit seemed a size too large. He looked
like an executive on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
He said, "First vacation
in seven years. The company pays all expense. They said I need to relax,
then come back and work harder."
I had to check my airline
ticket to see if I had boarded the wrong flight. I couldn't believe
that they were sending this bundle of nerves to New York to relax! That's
like sending Callista Flockhart to a Maalox clinic.
The stewardess was a real
cookie. When a passenger asked her when we would take-off, she replied,
"Not until we're off the ground."
After the plane got into
the air, the Japanese executive began to grunt and groan and make odd
little noises. I asked if he was alright, but he didn't seem to hear.
When the stewardess came
by with the drinks, he ordered a Jack Daniels, and dropped six alka-seltzer
tablets into the plastic glass.
I was afraid that all of
those bubbles would inflate him into a Brook's Brother's beach ball
that the passengers would bounce back-and-forth against the cabin walls.
All he did was belch.
I would have rather had
the beach ball.
I tried to go to sleep.
It's easy to sleep on an airplane -- for ten-minutes; after that, even
Art Bell couldn't send you back to dreamland.
I woke-up after the usual
ten-minutes and turned to the Japanese man to ask the time. He was wheezing
and grunting. I pushed the button for the stewardess.
After ten-minutes, she raced
to our seats like an Olympic snail.
I pointed at the wheezing
man seated next to me.
She asked him, "More beer
I said, "I think he's dying!"
She smiled and said, "We've
got cashews! They weren't doing well in first class. The Captain said
to give them to you people in coach."
The Japanese businessman
wheezed and snorted.
I shouted at the stewardess,
"What's wrong with you?! Did methadone.com go chapter 11? This man is
She frowned and looked at
me, "We get this all the time; over-worked, Japanese executives flying
to New York for relaxation."
I asked angrily, "Why the
hell would anyone send a nervous wreck to New York to RELAX?!"
She replied calmly, "He
probably works 14 hours-a-day, six days-a-week; his boss screams at
him for other people's mistakes; his wife screams at him for not getting
promoted fast enough; his kids probably have orange hair and play in
a grunge band. New York is the only place in the world that'll make