Ten years ago, I used to get a little freaked out about airplane flights. Perhaps because my children were younger and my mothering instinct was hyperactively feeding me thoughts prior to take off. The sequence would go something like this: “I’m sure this plane is safe. What if it’s not? They don’t even have those little kiosks for plane crash insurance in the airport like they used to…if they did, I would have gotten some. If the plane starts going down, will I have enough time to write Mick instructions about all the kids’ activities at school and special circumstances regarding our mommy car pool? Why am I thinking this – of COURSE the plane is safe!…But what if it’s not?”
I also used to politely look at the flight attendant providing instructions for a “water landing” when they were giving their schpiel prior to take off. I used to purchase airport food more often because I didn’t think about eating before I went in or about packing snacks in my purse. I used to over pack. I used to check my ticket fifty times each flight and think about what the next step might be when we landed, such as finding the baggage claim area or the bathrooms.
I used to do a lot of things that drained most of my mental energies and kept me from enjoying my trips when I flew somewhere for business. Not any more. A combination of grown children, flying three or four places per year over the past decade, and becoming familiar with most of the major U.S. airports has done wonders for my psychological state during business trips.
Yesterday I flew to Atlanta. I normally allow myself one luxury item per trip and that usually takes the form of some fiction paperback I can finish on the first day. I had already purchased my copy of John Grisham’s “Ford County Stories” for the flight (you know, Grisham – because I was headed to the South?) and was walking toward the Delta gate when I spied a small Sonic in the fast-food conglomerate past the bookstore. “Sweet tea. All I need to top off this delightful reading experience on my way to Atlanta is a Route 44 iced tea from Sonic,” I thought. I careened left, changing lanes across the packed aisles of walking traffic in the airport and slid into the fast food line safely.
My ½ and ½ tea (I can’t drink straight sweet tea, I ask them to mix it with half unsweetened) was good for having been purchased at a place sporting 90% fried stuff on the menu. I boarded the plane and began my book. I don’t remember the flight starting. I hadn’t really paid attention to the person who was sitting beside me. I think at one point my right and her left elbows were jockeying for position on the arm rest. And I was not cognizant of how long the flight would take or even that we had taken off. I was already deeply entrenched in “Chapter One: Blood Drive;” I was being transported to a scene in a small town where three young men took a detour on their way to give blood for a local friend who had been injured. I was in fiction heaven.
I was in the middle of “Chapter Three: Fish Files,” page 110 when the plane landed. I reluctantly closed my book and said hello to the person sitting at my side. She was from Norman, OK and was headed to Amsterdam to see her son. I noticed she had a designer bag, perfect make-up and probably dyed her hair based upon the age of her face. She looked cool and started a conversation with me; she talked cool too. We chatted for a minute and I reached down to grab my tea.
Having rested in the magazine holder for the entire flight, a film of condensation had begun covering the outside of my Route 44 Sonic Cup and no sooner had I picked it up then it slipped from my fingers and fell to floor of the plane. I sighed with relief as it landed because the cup remained in an upright position. “Lucky break of the day,” I thought. That thought had come too quickly, however, because when I picked the cup up an erratic stream of ½ and ½ tea began to leak out in two different directions. Huh? I looked at the bottom of the cup to see my extra long straw had somehow been harpooned right through the bottom of the cup upon impact. I quickly thought about shoving it into my purse…no! I looked around and decided to put it back on the floor to utilize the pressure of the carpet, somewhat like you would when applying a tourniquet to a bleeding wound. I turned around to look for any leftover cup the flight attendant missed and was met with a barf bag hovering right in front of my face.
“Barf bag!” my cool seat mate exclaimed, “Try this!” Perfect. I slipped the plastic coated bag underneath my Sonic cup and the situation was immediately contained. I glanced back at my cool seat mate to thank her. She winked knowingly. “Those things are really handy,” she said, “For lots of reasons.”
I agreed and made a note to myself to Remember The Barf Bags. As we headed down the plane aisle I glanced back at my seatmate. She was reading as she walked in line out the door.
“She must have been flying for TWENTY years,” I thought with admiration. I saluted her in my head while gripping my barf bag and headed into the airport.
Editor’s Update: 12/7/2010 – make sure and check out our Barf Bag “Throwdown” follow up post written later this fall.