Home has a nice ring to it.
Our connecting flight from Chicago to Los Angeles was delayed by four hours due to a problem with the ignition. As we clambered aboard the plane, the pilot announced over the PA that the maitenance crew had to perform some last minute repairs. Don’t worry, he said, we have redundant systems just in case. The passengers looked at each other, some joked, others laughed fearfully. We heard the whine of engines, the coughing choke, the lamps above us flickering. The smell of smoke pervaded the cabin. Lights on the right side of plane suddenly go out. As we taxi off, the lights struggle to come back on. Another voice, the air hostess, she tells us that in order to prevent further delays, the maintenance crew could not perform every single repair. We will not be serving hot coffee or tea as the water heater is not powered.
Not exactly an auspicious start.
The entire flight was an incredibly frightening experience. It is enough to make you wonder exactly which components were non-functioning. Lift off was wobbly, the plane shook from side to side, even while still on ground. In the air, it would leap and drop like a fly caught in a hurricane. I closed my eyes, strapped on the iPod to drown out the prayers. Four hours can change a person’s life. I no longer enjoy the company of babies, those deceitful cherubs that can sustain an unwavering note for an entire east-west coast flight. When we landed, the audible relief spread. Behind me, I heard a monotone clap, a reflex to be alive but devoid of emotion or joy. We were all glad to have survived, but the little light within us has died.