We just got back from England a few days ago. We flew Virgin Atlantic because we wanted the “rockstar service” they promise. It’s not that we consider ourselves to be rockstars (if anything we’re more like contemporary Christian Pop or Easy Listening artists), it’s that we had heard their Economy Class was slightly better than other airlines’ Economy Class and on a long-haul flight (10 hours)… slightly better is a lot better.
Now, if rockstar service means being tied to a chair facing a broken entertainment system and a broken light… which meant that all I could do was sit in a darkened cabin drinking Gin & Tonics, questioning my existence and the meaning of life… then yes, I had a rockstar experience!
Also, three of four toilets were broken… which is very rock n’ roll.
So that was the flight to London.
Okay, so I know I shouldn’t complain. I got to go to London (and, also: Malta and Germany) and not having a light or a working entertainment system or a working toilet is not actually that big of a deal because as the comedian Louis C.K. says, flight is a miracle: “You’re sitting in a chair… in the sky.”
In the 1700s it would have taken between 50-140 days to cross the Atlantic, depending on currents and winds, and whether the captain and crew were killed by scurvy. It only took us 10 hours to fly 5400 miles, and we had an unlimited supply of orange juice.
All three weeks of our vacay… I did not look forward to the return flight. I did think it was unlikely that the entertainment system, light and majority of toilets would be broken because as the old adage goes… lightening never strikes twice. Although, according to NASA, it actually does. WHAT.
As we boarded the plane, Snoop Dogg (AKA Snoop Lion) and his entourage were ushered past us, which was very rockstar (or, rapstar). He was carrying his own pillow, which I actually thought was very reggae star.
As soon as I got settled in my seat I checked my light and my entertainment system, and it was all systems go. I was planning to settle in for some light inflight entertainment, have a few cocktails, and wake up in Los Angeles a little bit wiser (older, anyway), and possibly the new bestie of Snoop Dogg/Lion.
Everything did not go according to plan.
I mean, it started okay. The flight crew were rolling the drink carts down the aisle and I knew my first G & T was on its way. But then, it started.
First, what felt like a drop. Then, the plane started to shudder. The seatbelt light came on. The pilot then asked the flight attendants to take their seats. And just like that… the drink carts were rolled away, back to the galley.
The turbulence rumbled on as I attempted to watch Silver Linings Playbook and maintain my composure. I reached for my husband’s hand and held it tight (and not because the movie tugged at my heartstrings – because it didn’t).
Then it got worse. There was another drop and a few people (yes, me) let out a little scream. Then, more shuddering. I prayed a little pray and took off my headphones. I looked around. People with their eyes closed, gripping their armrests. I looked at my husband. He was trying hard to remain calm and keep his facial features relaxed (for me).
I closed my eyes and wondered if the wings of a plane had ever fallen off. If I had been at home I could have just googled ‘do planes wings ever fall off’, and then I’d know and then I could just relax and not worry about the plane’s wings falling off. But I wasn’t at home. I was on a plane, flying over the icy waters of the Atlantic, somewhere between Ireland and Iceland. I reached below my seat and touched my life jacket to make sure it was there, should I need it.
I then thought about how if we did crash into the icy waters of the Atlantic people will only care about the death of Snoop Dogg/Lion. The news won’t cover the story of some girl trying to be a writer in Los Angeles (me). All the coverage will be of Snoop and his illustrious rap career, and maybe (possibly) coverage of the wreckage itself.
A woman across the aisle from us started hyperventilating.
A few people threw up.
I gripped my husband’s hand a little tighter.
Then I remembered I had an Ativan (leftover from a hospital “procedure”) in my purse for an emergency. I thought this (possibly having the wings fall off) constituted an emergency. I popped it in my mouth and washed it down with some orange juice (I wasn’t about to get scurvy on top of everything else.).
Within a few minutes, the Ativan kicked in and I calmed down. Then, the plane evened out. When I saw the flight attendants rolling the drink cart toward me I knew everything was going to be okay (even though you’re not supposed to mix alcohol with benzos).
Eight hours later, we landed at LAX, older (wiser), and though Snoop Dogg/Lion and I never formally met (or met at all) we (definitely) bonded over our shared near-death experience.
“It don’t get no realer than this though, dog.” – Snoop Dogg, “Get Bout It & Rowdy”, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told (1998)