Friday, January 16, 2009

Learn To Fly

The Crankies are starting to talk about our summer vacation. Neither Jason nor I grew up in families that did the annual vacation thing; we went on vacation (to Florida, natch) only once in my entire childhood, and that's once more than Jason. After not taking anything remotely resembling a vacation the first 9 years of our marriage, we decided that we would go somewhere as a family every summer. We want to make it a priority to take Ainsley and ourselves to see some wide open spaces.

I have shockingly narrow travel horizons; I've never been out of the country, I've only been west of the Mississippi once, and the east coast of Florida is as far east as I've ever been. I've never visited our nation's capital nor have I seen a Great Lake. I am telling you, I am in serious need of some destinations.

There's one big obstacle in my way. As I've mentioned before in these pages, I am deathly afraid to fly.

This year we were talking about going on a cruise. Our first choice, to make it fun for the kid, was a Disney Cruise. But when we typed in our info and asked for a quote, and the quote said, "Arm, leg, and whatever gold you've got around the house," we changed our minds. Seriously, why does everything with The Mouse on it cost twice as much? Sometimes, I hate that corporation.

We'd heard good things about Carnival cruises with kids, too, so we investigated that next. This is no lie: on the same week in June, a Carnival eastern Caribbean cruise in their most expensive stateroom (the Penthouse, for crying out loud!) still costs less than the eastern Caribbean Disney cruise we were looking at in their second-to-cheapest stateroom. And even with airfare, a Carnival cruise vacation could cost a little less than the Disney World vacation we took 2 years ago. Don't let his cute little ears fool you; Mickey is an evil, evil fellow.

It also boded well that the very next day after I put in an inquiry, someone from Carnival called me to discuss further deals we could get. I don't know if y'all have heard, but apparently there's some sort of economic crisis going on and people aren't travelling as much and most cruise companies are all but luring people on board with wads of cash tied to fishing rods. I was just about to seal the deal when that plane went and crash-landed into the Hudson yesterday.

Since everyone got off safely, I can say this without too much guilt--I think it was a warning. For me. We had been planning to fly to the port, and get Ains on an airplane for the first time at a relatively young age and get that out of the way. But right now I feel like that would be tempting fate. It simply cannot be a coincidence that a flock of birds would take out a plane on the very day we got Carnival calling and asking me to sign on the dotted line. (And yes, it is all about me.)

A Cincinnati reporter commenting on this breaking news made a point of telling us all that air travel is still very safe, and that "There hasn't been a fatal crash on an American airline in over two years."

Way to go, man! Jinx us all, wouldja?

I could almost see Death himself, dressed in black cloak with scythe in hand, smoking a cigarette and telling me,

"Sure, this one turned out well with all 151 passengers exiting safely. You don't honestly think think I'll let the next one turn out so good, do ya? After all, I've got a quota and all."

Yesterday's near miss in the fatalities department played upon my second worst fear (my worst fear being the ever-popular crash and burn): being trapped in something filling up with water. My hands shake just thinking about it.

When Jason and I flew to Vegas for a long, childless weekend in 2006, I thought I had gotten over the worst of the flying thing. But if we fly for the cruise, there's a new element: I am not just putting my own life in the hands of flying fate, I am putting my kid on board, as well. If for some reason I had to get on a plane all by myself tomorrow, I think I would be alright. But putting Ainsley on, especially after yesterday's crash...I literally shudder at the thought.

"Hey, we haven't been to Gatlinburg since our honeymoon!" I said to Jason last night as we watched news coverage. "We could do that this year. You know, short drive, close to home..."

He rolled his eyes at me. Being holed up in a cabin in the Appalachian mountains was perfect for two young newlyweds, but I don't know if Ainsley would be terribly entertained by the occasional hike up the side of a mountain in the hopes of getting to see a deer eat grass.

And though we could drive to the port for the cruise, we would have to park the car there and pay for that and also I have sworn off ever again driving all the way through Georgia (my Georgia friends: I love you dearly, but I hate hate hate driving through your state. Why does it have to be so long?)

So clearly I am torn.

I've heard all the statistics about air travel. I know, deep down, that it's safe. Heck, my college roommate's (and above-mentioned Georgia dweller's) father served on the NTSB. And he let her fly! (On certain airlines.) But this isn't about rational facts; this is about fear, which isn't rational and doesn't have to follow any formula.

So, talk back to me here. Can any of you promise me that if we fly this summer, everything will be okay? Anyone? Anyone?

Of course you can't! Because there are no promises.

But at any rate, hit me with all your flying stories and all those statistics in your head about how I am more likely to die in a car crash 5 minutes from home and blah blah blah. And if you watch 30 Rock and know about Comanaprisil, please tell me how I can score some.


Karen said...

You should fly the airline that had the accident yesterday. Statistically speaking, it will be the safest time. I flew Airtran the week after the crash in Florida that killed everyone on board, and I survived.

And you are far more likely to be in a car crash than an airline crash. And yes, all these sayings came straight from the old NTSB guy. :)

I am not offended by your not wanting to drive all the way through GA - it takes too darn long. And I wish that TN weren't in the way between GA and KY. ;)

Robert K. said...

In 2007, Garuda Airlines of Indonesia had a massive crash. Two weeks later I flew to Indonesia on Garuda, and I slept like a baby. Why? Two reasons. Number one, the plane was almost totally deserted because everyone cancelled their reservations, so I was able to stretch out across the middle aisles. Number two, I knew the chances of a crash that soon afterward were astronomical.

Of course, much like my wife's deadly fear of spiders, phobias are totally irrational, so I doubt anything we say can talk you into being comfortable flying. Maybe you should just start drinking bloody marys before you leave the house and don't stop until you touch the ground. ;)

Chuckles said...

I've flown on a plane where I had to be weighed before getting on so the pilot could distribute the fat people. I was in the front seat and was literally looking over the pilot's shoulder. Other than being cramped it was really cool. Just remember you have to do this for Ainsley so she doesn't inherit your fear. If you just can't bring yourself to do it this year then I say your road trip should be to one of the Great Lakes that you haven't seen yet. It just so happens that Chicago sits on a Great Lake. Definitely a nice destination. I can't spell it but Mackinaw island is on our someday list.

The best part of the post was that I had accompanying commentary that was usually just one paragraph ahead of your comments. I think you might be a little too predictable. I'm just sayin'