alternative-transportation

The Steadily Growing Case For Teleportation

Our pilot Paul, what a great guy! As the plane sits waiting for boarding, he walks all around it, inspecting it for something. Visible damage, I guess, or maybe stowaway monkeys – I don’t really know much about aviation. He’s wearing a short-sleeved shirt, a wide-striped tie and impossibly short brown hair, the sassy summer pilot look that makes you swoon and coo a little when you see him. He walks around the body of the plane and taps on things with his knuckles, much the same way I imagine I might do if I were inspecting a plane. “Nope, this large white panel hasn’t fallen off yet. Should be good for another shot to Chicago!”

Paul’s hands are in his pockets most of the time, probably fiddling with his pecker, or the keys to the plane. All of us seated at the terminal window, waiting to board this flight, are watching him intently and we have decided we like Paul. He stops tapping panels for a moment to pick at something that looks like peeling paint. Note to self: Pick up gallon of Royal Blue Plane Paint for right side wing connection thingy. A minute of staring at paint chips in his fingernails and he’s on the move again. Look at that confident stride, he must be seven feet tall.

6:00

Paul’s finished his walk around the plane and he’s joking with the baggage men now, making exaggerated throwing and kicking motions, as if he’s mishandling some invisible luggage. The baggage men hate pilots, the same way that vikings probably hate pirates, but they like Paul because Paul used to be a baggage handler himself. That’s right, Paul has risen all the way from the very bottom of the airport ranks and I for one don’t mind his humble beginnings. Do you know why? Because I can tell he’s a good pilot. Just look at those handsome shoulder stripes. They don’t just give those to anyone, you know. You have to take classes.

6:20

We’re boarding now. I hate those people that run to the edge of the line and wait for their seating zone to be called. What’s your goddamn rush? Paul’s not leaving until everyone’s on board and belted in, so settle down, nervous retirees from Scottsdale.

6:40

Paul’s just come on the intercom and announced that we’re going to be in the air for about two hours today. He doesn’t expect any weather trouble. This is probably because he’s personally plotted our flight plan to minimize the risk of encountering sudden electromagnetic clouds or drunken pilots from other inferior airlines, the two most common causes of air travel disaster. We’re rolling backwards, out into the takeoff queue now. I’m really looking forward to the part where we lift off and my groin gets a little tingly. I love that feeling.

6:45

These instructional videos have gotten really elaborate!

6:55

Perfect takeoff, of course. Paul should be back on the intercom when we reach cruising altitude, to give us a progress update and some Chicago weather conditions. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever had a better takeoff than that, just awesome. What’s not awesome though is this kid behind me who’s kicking my seat and talking loudly about crap. Kids talk such crap. God! I can’t think about that now though, I need to get some sleep and think instead about how I’m going to thank Paul when we leave the plane. You only get one shot to thank your pilot – better make it count.

8:40

I fell asleep and I’m dreaming right now. I missed Paul’s 30,000 foot address but that doesn’t matter, because I’m downhill skiing with Ice Cube in German-occupied Switzerland, shooting Nazis and making love to beautiful Swiss women. Jesus, I’m incredible. Hey Cube, let’s get some of that delicious fondue. Later, we’ll watch football and talk about liquor.

8:45

My eyes pop open and my heart is pounding through my chest. I think at first that the kid kicking my seat has woken me up, so I’m pissed. Then I look to my left to see a man writhing on the aisle floor, bleeding fast from the side of his head. I’m trying to gather my senses, trying to understand what’s happening when the plane suddenly drops what must be 5,000 feet in half a second. The same man is tossed into the row behind me like a rag doll. The child who was kicking my seat is screaming. I feel like I’m insane.

8:48

Every few seconds, the plane bounces and creaks violently, everyone squeezes their armrest or their leg. Or their neighbor’s leg. Some of them yelp. People are crying. I’m trying to listen to some country music in my headphones to distract myself when I see a bright flash outside the window, just before the whole plane shudders. We’re flying through a thunderstorm. A fucking thunderstorm. I want to murder Paul. He is entirely to blame.

8:52

The engines are whining erratically and we’re still bouncing hard every few seconds. I find my pen and small notebook and try to start writing. It’s hard, because of the bouncing and sobbing, but I write “Some Ways That I Will Ruin Paul’s Life” on the top of the first page. Number one: Angry letter to Paul’s bosses. Number two: Frame Paul for arson.

9:01

I finish my list with 27 ways that I will ruin Paul’s life and I notice that we’re descending steadily now through the storm. The flight attendants are trying to walk the aisle and they look haggard and nauseous. Paul finally comes on the intercom to announce that we’re going to attempt a landing at O’Hare in one of the worst thunderstorms in the last decade. He sounds tired, defeated almost. Who does he think he is? You just can’t play with our lives Paul, we’re not boxes full of Starter jackets or VCRs. You’re not logging license hours with Fed Ex anymore; you’re responsible for the well being of one hundred people. We have families, jobs, Hondas, favorite pizza toppings and shitty lawyers on retainer. I’m screaming in my head and trying to catch my breath but I can’t, because it feels like we’re falling now. The lights are low and my vision is clouded, so I can’t see anyone’s faces, can’t hear anything, nothing makes sense. I focus on the paper I’m squeezing in my right hand, the list of 27 things I’m going to do to Paul, and I decide that I’ll give it to him if I ever leave this plane. I’ll walk down that aisle toward the exit door, the cockpit, towards Paul who’ll be smiling and thanking everyone for “hanging in there.” What bullshit. My eyes will be prison shanks when we meet and he’ll look at me with the retreating teeth of his fake pilot-smile as I press my list into his clammy, incompetent palm. He’ll know instantly that I’m serious and credible. I won’t say a word except to whisper “shame on you” as I turn on my heel and start somberly up the jetway. Is it a federal offense to threaten a pilot? I’m not sure, but I should probably make a copy of the list for myself, so I can follow through on some of them. God, I hope he really is allergic to nuts.

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