Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Water, Concrete, It’s All the Same

I had this crazy dream last night. I was flying into New York, headed for La Guardia airport, when the captain came on the plane’s speaker system and said we weren’t landing at La Guardia at all. It seems there was too much traffic there. So we were going to land in the Hudson River. Another plane had landed there a few days before, so I had a sense of déjà vu.

I told the stewardess: “Well, at least we have ‘Sully’ Sullenberger piloting the plane.” I mean, this was my dream after all. The way I figured it, I could dream Charles Lindbergh was piloting the thing if I wanted. The stewardess swiftly disabused me of that idea.

“Sully? Naw, man, he’s doing TV appearances. Ever since the last time he landed a plane on the Hudson he’s hardly had time to fly. Besides, he doesn’t work for this airline anyway.”


“We’ve got this new guy. This is his first flight.”

“A rookie? You’ve got a rookie landing a Boeing 747 on the Hudson River?”

“He was real good with the flight simulator.”

“But that’s a video game. This is for real.”

“The airport is closed, sir. What do you want him to do? Land the airplane on 42nd street?

“That would be better than landing it in the river. The Hudson is so polluted even rats won’t go near it. I’m going to talk to the pilot.” I started to get up, but she pushed me back into my incredible super-cramped, economy class seat. I wish I had gone first class. Then I could stretch out all over the place. But I was too cheap. Being in coach was like being in a coffin. An analogy I did not like to think about right now.

“You have to stay put,” she said. “You are sitting next to the emergency exit door. That makes you the Hudson River emergency exit coordinator.”

“The what? But I thought flight attendants were supposed to do that.”

“Hey, man, I’m just a waitress. All I do is pour coffee.” Then she got excited. “Here it comes!”

I looked out the window. My eyes bugged out. The river was not ten feet beneath the plane’s wings. And there were pleasure boats in the way. Didn’t the people on those boats know to get out of the way when there was a plane coming down?

The flight attendant yelled to the passengers to keep their heads down. “Otherwise you might be decapitated by flying objects,” she said. Somehow I did not find that reassuring.

Then we hit the water. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Most landings on landing strips were worse than this. The emergency door seemed to fly open of its own accord. While the waitresses handed out little bags of peanuts and offered everybody coffee, we passengers organized ourselves and got out onto the plane’s wings. It was cold as hell, but at least we were alive.

Then we heard the plane’s speaker system. “This is the captain speaking,” it said. “Welcome to New York. We hope you had a great flight and that you enjoy your stay here. Thank you for flying [redacted] Airlines.”

I woke up in a cold sweat. I vowed I would never fly again. There had to be some better way to get to wherever I was going. If not I would just stay home. I dragged myself into the kitchen and picked up a newspaper. I am the type who never throws anything away and did not notice in my early morning haze that it was an old paper.

The headline story was about some character who hijacked a bus filled with people in Canada. The Canadian government assured people bus travel was safe despite the recent hijackings.


At January 30, 2009 at 5:10 AM , Blogger Bevie said...

To be perfectly honest, I quit following the Hudson River story almost immediately.

All the press wanted to talk about was how heroic the pilot was. I don't mean to diminish him, but from news accounts I got the feeling it was a good thing he was there. Clearly, no one else in the flight crew had a clue.

And no talk about what went wrong. No talk about the news portion of the story. Just (non)human intest stuff.

Liked your post, though.

Have a good day.


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