So where are you going? Are you going to New York? California? Asia? Africa? Are you going to float down the Seine? Did you just see Before Sunset and now you simply have to take a trip to the old world?
Are you ready for the food? Airplane food is awful unless you’re first class. Are you first class? If so, what’s it like up there? You can recline all the way back, right? Seriously? All the way? I heard they give you an iPad to watch movies on? Any movie you want? You’re not stuck watching the latest Channing Tatum movie with the rest of us?
Now be honest, are you nervous when you see someone of Arab descent on your plane? What does this say about you? Do you go out of your way to NOT feel anything about it? Is that even possible? Do you judge people that DO admit to being nervous about it? Do you think they’re close-minded, or racist, or hillbilly? All of the above? Do other Arab people get nervous when THEY see Arab people boarding their plane? Is it only the white person guilt? Or is it guilt at all? Maybe it’s just being cognizant of the situation. Maybe it’s just being aware. Maybe we can’t stop it even if we try because we watch CNN or MSNBC or FOX NEWS (But never all three) and we’ve all watched that footage, the footage you don’t talk about, footage that is the hardest footage to watch in the whole world. Every single time you see a plane you think about it. The two things are forever linked, stuck together by the cement glue of mankind’s wickedness.
But what are you going to do, right? You can’t drive to the Bahamas. Be realistic. You’re going to have to get on that plane. You’re going to have to get up around 3:30AM and sit through security and then you’ll probably be selected at one time or another and then you’ll be embarrassed and nervous as TSA Brenda gropes you and tells you to take off your belt. Nervous? Why? I don’t know! It’s not like you have anything to hide, right? But what about that little bit of weed you once carried in your backpack during a camping trip? The backpack Brenda is currently digging through. What if a little of that weed fell out of that shitty Tupperware container and it’s sitting in the bottom of your backpack, mixed among lint, a few coins and a broken pen? Goddamnit, they’re really digging through your bag. They’ve taken out your book. They’ve taken out your notebook. THEY’RE LEAFING THROUGH YOUR NOTEBOOK?!?! You make a joke that the only thing they’re going to find in there is poorly constructed short stories, but they look at you like you’re not supposed to speak and you just broke the golden goddamn rule, so they search more frantically and somehow through this whole thing you’ve decided that you do in fact have something to hide. They’ve turned you guilty.
So finally you put your shoes and belt and jacket and hat back on and you promise yourself you’ll never again wear cowboy boots to the airport regardless of how cool you think it makes you look. You take a deep breath and you find the departures board and you need food but FUCK ME THE PLANE IS DELAYED.
FUCK. ME. THE. PLANE. IS. THREE. FUCKING. HOURS. LATE.
You take another deep breath and tell yourself you’re going to get through this. Not for one moment do you forget that you’ve paid $500 for this experience. This is like riding the world’s worst and most expensive rollercoaster. You find your gate and then you learn your fate. You ask Rhonda at the desk why the plane is three hours behind. She tells you it’s actually five hours behind, they just haven’t updated the big board. So you ask why the flight is five hours late. Rhonda curtly tells you that the plane you’re flying on is coming from Seattle. From Seattle it will land here and then from here it will go to Miami and then of course down to the Bahamas. Then she says that the plane has not yet arrived in Seattle. Your face must be doing something strange because Rhonda kind of grimaces and then the bitch actually smiles. So Rhonda, you ask, when does the plane get to Seattle? She says she doesn’t know, the system doesn’t tell her that much. There’s a big fat fucking blind spot in the system and your plane is somewhere in that grey area, like the goddamn Bermuda triangle. You literally say the words, “This is not fair,” and of course there’s a tone because Rhonda looks at you like you’re a fucking child and that phrase means absolutely nothing in the adult English language. That phrase lost its power after your tenth birthday party at putt-putt. You try to remember the last time you had a good cry, just really let it out.
So after three hours and two ten-dollar tacos that are so bad you have to throw the second one out after one bite, you head to the bookstore. You end up buying the new Dan Brown book for a small fortune even though you loathe Dan Brown AND his buddy Robert Langdon. Something has happened to you in this airport, you’ve turned into this walking, crying, bearded baby that spends too much money and gives zero fucks. You believe you dodged a bullet by not walking out with 50 Shades of Grey. You’ve lost total control.
Finally, you’re up and waiting. Group 2. You foolishly think this means you’re the second group to board, however you quickly learn it’s actually eighth to board after first class, rewards members, military people, old people, disabled people, people with babies, people with only one bag, and then finally, Group 2. You have to beast through the loitering Group 3 and Group 4 people, bumping into them, and they look at you with angry eyes because they know and you know that you’re going to take their space in the overhead bins. You smile.
Now you’re in the plane, in your seat. You think you’re all set. You’ve got a phone that’s dead, you’ve got a computer that you can’t open, you’ve got a Dan Brown book that you’re going to have to hate-read to get through. Eventually, you’ll get to the Bahamas and the beach and the fruity drinks and the sunburn. But first, a woman sits next to you. A big woman. A woman that looks at you and smiles and then says exactly what you thought she was going to say. She tells you that you remind her of her son. You smile, put on your headphones that are connected to your dead cell, and lean back and close your eyes. You think you’re safe until she taps on you on the shoulder and kind of leans in and asks the stupidest fucking question anyone has ever asked on a plane, and it’s worse because you knew it was coming.
She smiles, she leans, and she asks, “So… where are you going?”