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The Book of Eleven
Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Eleven Thoughts
about planes and flying

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

1. EVERY TIME I'M FLYING and the captain announces we're beginning our descent, the same thing goes through my mind. While we're still pretty high above the city, I'll think, if the plane went down now, we would definitely not be OK. A bit lower, and no, we still wouldn't be OK. But as we get real close to the ground, I'll think, OK, we're low enough, if it crashed now, we might be OK.

MY HUSBAND AND I were at the airport. While he was across the way getting coffee and I was waiting reading the paper, he mouthed something to me. I thought he was trying to tell me that a famous person was right there, check it out! So I'm frantically searching, but couldn't find anyone. I looked back at him to mouth it again, fearing The Famous Person was already too far away to be spotted. I then realized he was simply saying, "Bring me the sports section."

PEOPLE are either good or bad at their profession--good and bad accountants, good and bad artists. What then constitutes a bad air traffic controller, and what needs to happen before he/she is fired?

IF A PLANE OF LOBSTERS went down in the Andes mountains and they had to cannibalize one another, they'd be psyched. "Lobster again? Excellent!"

AS I WALK THROUGH first-class to get to my coach seat, I always quickly eye the first-class delegates, trying to figure out what they do or who they "are" that enables them to fly so elitely. I'm always extra-intrigued by those unassuming types: a disheveled teen-ager; an un-rich looking fat guy; an old lady. It would be so helpful for us coach travelers to be given a First-Class Roster, disclosing the gossipy details of their good fortune.

SEAT 2A: Trust-fund kid. Flying to his mother's wedding (third marriage).
SEAT 3C: 3C's great grandfather made a fortune when he invented the washcloth.
SEAT 5B: Racked up enough miles to upgrade.

6. AFTER WATCHING A news report of a small plane that went down "killing two," my reaction, much to my horror and shame, was actually disappointment. I thought, "Only two? That's nothing," and I changed the channel.

I WAS SITTING NEXT to this engineer-type on an airplane and was suddenly drawn to the big, Xeroxed document he was reading. It was titled, "Surface Micromachines Gyroscope Fabrication." That's the exact title; I was so intrigued by the words that I surreptitiously copied them down word for word. About an hour later we started chatting and he told me he worked for the government. I said, "What do you do?" And he said, "I can't tell you. It's classified."

WHEN YOU FLY you get to see all kinds of people -- conservative business men being especially rewarding -- sleep with their mouths hanging open.

ONE TIME I WAS ALMOST at the airport before I realized I left my wallet at home. I was flying to New York, the city least likely to be kind and understanding to a wallet-less soul. But I really needed to get on that flight to make a meeting a couple hours later, so I decided to board and pray for the best, nervously confident that I would figure something out. The first part of the flight I just cried, wallowing in my stupidity. The second part of the flight I panicked. And about 10 minutes before landing I extracted all the courage in my body to ask the woman next to me if I could borrow some money just to get me to my hotel, "and I'll mail you a check, I swear." After awkwardly babbling my saga of woe and spaciness to her, one question led to another, and it turned out I knew her son, who lived and worked in New York. The satisfying epilogue was that a couple weeks later, when I was back in Chicago, I got a call from her: "I received this check from you, and I don't know who you are or why you gave it to me." I had to actually remind her of the whole episode, which I could not believe, and which just about matched me in absent-mindedness.

CONSIDERING HOW MUCH they're advertised in the in-flight magazines, it looks like someone is actually be buying those "YOUR LOGO HERE" watches.

I CAN'T HELP MYSELF from saving leftover food from my in-flight meal--a pack of Sun Chips, a pre-packaged oatmeal raisin cookie, a banana--and hoarding it in my purse for that moment later when I will be absolutely famished and miles from civilization. Then I end up shuttling it back and forth between purse/backpack/suitcase, schlepping it home, then finally throwing it out a couple weeks later.


Unless otherwise specified,
all material Copyright 1999, 2000 by the author




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