I have phobias and I’m not afraid to write about them

Posted on February 2nd, 2011

I’m afraid to fly. Now I don’t subscribe to the whole “if I’d been meant to fly, I’d have wings” theory of aviophobia, mainly because I’m allergic to feathers, so that never would’ve worked out for me anyway. I’m actually afraid to fly because…well, maybe it does have to do with the fact that I don’t have wings.

Anyway, the point is not why I’m afraid, it’s that I AM afraid. Very afraid. First of all, I am afraid of the flight attendants. In recent years the flight attendants have become sort of quasi air marshals, chucking any passenger causing a disturbance off the plane. Unfortunately it’s very difficult for me to get through an entire flight without screaming, crying or yelling out “Good Lord we’re not going to make it” whenever we hit a bit of turbulence. Flight attendants tend to not like passengers that make other passengers afraid. Hence the chucking.

And of course, I fear other passengers. Please. I‘ve been on a lot of planes—against my will–and I’m always the only person actually listening to the safety spiel. What the heck are those other people doing? Do they think they are so special that they don’t need to know where the emergency exits are? Wake up, people. Do not expect the one person paying attention to help you when we crash onto an uncharted island. No. I will be down that slide before you can figure out why the landing was so bumpy and how the plane broke in half. In fact, by the time you leave, I’ll have built an entire village out of coconuts, befriended the natives and figured out where the Dharma bunkers are. All because I paid attention to the spiel.

The other thing that makes me afraid is when I see all the maintenance people running around the plane. Okay, I get that they do a check before the plane leaves. But just exactly how thorough is it? I was once on a plane that was delayed due to a beeping noise the pilot couldn’t silence. The maintenance guy came on the plane and shut the beeping thing off. But why was it beeping? Just because the beeper turned off didn’t mean that whatever it was beeping about got fixed, did it? I spent the entire trip stressing out over a beep. It was horrible. Stupid beep.

Unfortunately despite all these perfectly rational fears, I have to fly or I would never go farther than the nearest large city on a light traffic day. So, like every other aviophobic on the planet, I have little rituals I like to observe before flying. That list used to include drinks in the airport lounge, but that’s frowned upon by the flight crew. Apparently drunken passengers are among the first to be chucked—even in mid-air. So now I rely on bargains with God.  On one particular bumpy ride I promised to stop shopping for an entire month except for essential items like food and shoes. It was difficult, but I survived.  Of course, it was February, so that helped.

Next, I like to sit in certain areas—specifically I like to sit over the wing. Well, actually I’d prefer first class because if I were going to crash at least I’d have free champagne beforehand (hmmm, strange that first class passengers never get chucked). However, since I usually sit in coach, I figure over the wing is the best place to be. That way, if something goes wrong, like an engine fire, I’ll see it first so I can grab my stuff and be ready to turn my seat into a flotation device, whether we’re over water or not. No sense wasting perfectly good safety gear.

I also never, ever for any reason unbuckle my seatbelt. I do not care if the captain turns off the fasten seatbelt light. I don’t leave my seat, so I don’t have to unbuckle. I rely upon my industrial strength bladder and a complete lack of water for 48 hours prior to the flight in order to do this. Yes, I’m a little dehydrated, but it’s worth it. Plus, I have a fear of airplane lavatory flushing—but let’s not get into that.

Of course I could solve this problem by either driving or swimming to my destination. Which I totally would do, except I have a raging case of thalassophobia—fear of the sea—or in my case “fear-that-fish-will-bite-my-butt-phobia.” But let’s save that for another blog.

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2 Responses to “I have phobias and I’m not afraid to write about them”

  1. Carpool Goddess Says:

    Great article Laurie! Oh, I can so relate. I don’t take my seat until I’ve checked out the pilot and made sure he’s sober. Then I’ll settle in and start popping xanax. I was once so stressed by a bumpy flight, that they offered me alcohol for free, just to keep quiet.

  2. Laurie Says:

    Hi Linda!
    Dang, nobody ever offers me free alcohol. I don’t know if it’s because I look like i don’t need or because I look like I won’t be responsible after having it!

    I’ve never had Xanax. My doctor is a big believer in not medicating me :)

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