I returned home to Nova Scotia on Monday afternoon/evening.
The trip was mostly uneventful – except for when I was refused entry through the security gates. Dumb me didn’t think that the homemade jar of strawberry jam my dad gave me would be considered a ‘liquid, gel, or cream’. My bag was already checked. They sent me back to see if they would fetch it for me. I saw them do it for other people but the line was rather long by the time I got there so they refused me. I phoned Dad and Julie and asked if they wanted to come back to the airport to get it, but Dad said to just throw it out 🙁
I made it through security the second time, but took a quick detour to the airport store on a pepto search. I don’t know if it was the smoked pork, the Lucky lager, or the very pink hamburger I ate two bites of in the airport restaurant before tossing it, but my gut was rumbling! (Pepto saved the day)
So anyway, I got on the plane with my WestJet headset in my hand ready to plug in, detach from life, and watch the TV on the back of the seat in front of me. Nothing is more uncomfortable than small talk with a stranger.
The plane was completely full because many people were bumped from Sunday’s flights due to Hurricane Bill. The guy in the seat beside me said ‘hi’ and I said ‘hi’ and he said ‘how are ya’ and in my head I started to scream because I didn’t want to talk to a stranger and he’s gone past the simple ‘hi’ rule, but I said ‘great, yourself?’ and he answered ‘oh ok I guess, I suppose, for being on a plane’. Oh no, not another scared passenger. Please don’t be pukey-scared.
Yes he was, terrified of flying, but not pukey, and his fright level had escalated on his flight a week ago with no one to talk to and nothing to hear but his terrifying thoughts. At some point a few minutes into our small talk he offered me gum and I said ‘sure’ and then my head was screaming inside again ‘you just took gum from a total stranger!’ but I chewed it anyway.
He moved from Ontario to Halifax a couple years ago too so we talked about our Nova Scotia impressions and made fun of the Nova Scotians who believe their winters are so horribly harsh and both agreed they must not travel the rest of the country much.
He chatted and joked his way right through the take-off and admitted after that it was way easier when he talked. I started telling him some good flight stories, taking off lakes, working in a helicopter, flying Bearskin with slush on the wings and watching the pilots take out the manuals, and he was game for listening until I asked him if he ever had any rough landings and he said ‘now isn’t the time for that story’.
It was a real moral dilemma – turn the guy into a crying, white-knuckled, pile of quivering flesh, or be a nice girl and help him through it.
So I never got to watch TV. We talked for two hours. Never exchanged names or anything, I was just a stranger who helped elevate a grown man’s fear of flying.
It is fascinating where his mind had gone. He really wanted to crash, but not too bad, so he could be the only survivor, and some year when he’s sitting in a board room, surrounded by strangers in suits, and everyone is asked to say something about themselves, he would have a fascinating story of survival.
He even had a plan that if he was ever diagnosed with a terminal disease, he would climb up Mount Everest because he wouldn’t have to climb back down, and his family would be saved from the burial costs.
He had done a lot of train travel back and forth across the country. He said, unlike plane travel, your vacation starts when you board the train. There are restaurant cars, and lookout cars, and you see the same people for a couple of days, the scenery is lovely, and everyone is having an enjoyable time. You can even book your own ‘room’ and there is a pet car for dogs to travel in!
After landing, and figuring out how to summon the Park and Fly bus (direct line phone), I made the 2 hour drive home to a wonderful steak dinner prepared by my husband. I know it was only 3 nights but I missed him so much and had to deliver all the hugs each of my family members asked me to give him.
I think I was dead asleep within 2 hours. I’m still tired. Must be jet lag from that hour-long time change 🙂