First let me say it’s been about 20 years since I’ve been on an airplane, and then I’ve only ever went two places by plane. Second I haven’t even been anywhere by myself for a weekend since the ZZ Top concert at the Seneca Nation Casino in Salamanca. Since my friend is Seneca she got us a great room at a discount with a Jacuzzi. That was September of 2009.
I’m a mom of teenagers who just graduated high school in June. I was counting down the years, the months, the weeks, the days until they were done. No more homework, last minute money for some class thing or other, no more kicking my son in the ass to get the hell up and go to school (Love you Zach if you’re reading this, which I doubt but your sister might tell you I said it.), no more arguing with teachers and the principal over stupid mundane, trivial crap one of my kids may or may not have done with forks at lunch time---it was all over. Plus after six years of being secretary to my hubby who was Scoutmaster of our local Boy Scout troop, he finally passed the hat. Things were starting to look good for other people taking over responsibility without my help and I might actually get the editing on my novel finished.
My oldest son moved to Austin in December of last year so I figured it was time for some well deserved “me time” away from the rigors of home. Wow. A vacation! A whole week!
A whole week without:
“Mom, do you know where my ear buds are?”
“Did anyone pick the dog shit up off the lawn?”
“What’s there to eat?”
“I have no clean socks.”
“Can you fill out and send in this ticket for me?”
“Mom! The cat puked on the carpet again!”
“Where’s the remote?”
”Can you get me my pop?”
“What’s there to eat?”
All things a household of adults could reasonably get up and figure out or take care of themselves—but often don’t.
So here I was getting on a plane for Austin, Texas. A whole week of not having to be responsible for anyone but myself. I was elated. My son’s friend works for the airlines so I was able to go to Austin on a “buddy pass” which means I was also on standby. When I get to the counter I was happy to hear her say, “Oh we had room so we assigned you a seat already.” Very cool I thought, as I look at my ticket which says “exit seat”.
I board the plane and the flight attendant, I think that’s what he was anyway, looks at my ticket and says, “Are you prepared for this?” and smiles. With what I’m sure was a quizzical look, I say, “I think so?” I didn't what he meant. I would shortly.
Now we’re all seated, me by the exit door and a woman who speaks Spanish in the next seat over. The attendant comes down the aisle to tell us we were going to go over exit policy in case of a crash.
He looks at us and asks, “Do you speak English?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Little,” says the woman next to me.
“Oh, well then,” he says to the woman, “I’ll have to ask you to switch seats. We need people who understand English clearly to sit in these seats.”
I’m thinking, Well how rude is that. Does he have something against Spanish speaking people?
“You miss,” he says as he points to a lady a row back. “Do you speak English?”
“Yes,” the lady says.
“Alright then I’d ask you two to switch seats if you could, please,” says the attendant, and the women switch.
He hands the new lady some flight paraphernalia and goes over the oxygen masks and transitions into the exit door protocol. Now this is not verbatim but the words crash, water, engine, sucked in, things like that are what stuck in my brain.
“In case of an emergency,” he begins, looking directly at me, “you are in charge of getting that exit door open.”
My mind just about shuts off. Wait. What? No! I’m on vacation! Don’t you get it? It’s my week of not having to take care of anyone and now I’m responsible for the lives of dozens of people? I call foul! Unfair! Unfair! Sigh……
“Grab the top and bottom handles and pull directly out…” He rambles on.
I look at the door. Now is that a pull up and out? Isn’t my seat arm rest in the way? Oh, God, these people are counting on me…
“… turn the door sideways and toss it out. If we are over water…”
Water? I can’t swim worth shit. Maybe I should hold onto the door and jump out with it?
“…and pull up on the seat of your chair which is a floatation device….”
OK, toss out the door, turn, try not get trampled, pick up my seat cushion…ugh! Too much to remember!
“If someone starts pushing or gets in the way of removing the exit door it is the only time you will not be prosecuted for physical assault, even if you kill them to get the door off.”
Hold on now….this has possibilities. Let me think about that a minute. Thinking. Thinking. Oh wait, what did he just say about the engines?
“I repeat do not go near the engines on emergency escape, you could get sucked right in.”
Good to know.
“And that’s about it. Enjoy your flight.”
Easy for him to say. I spend the next 20 minutes studying the damn exit door. It just goes to show you, when you’re a mom the “I can take care of it” is written all over your face, you just can't escape that.
This is post #12 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. (Yes, I must catch up. I was getting ready for a trip, obviously. I figure it will be easy to catch up while I'm on vacation.) This is also a post for: