July 9th, 2006 —
Stepping Out Of My Box
I stepped out of my box once again. I know that at my age if I don’t do that, I’ll be doomed to staying in the box and eventually that box will get smaller and smaller until life is sucked out of me. I’m a chicken. There. I said it. And what? There are benefits to being a chicken, ya know. It means you are safe. It means you won’t get into any trouble. It means that you don’t have to face fears, therefore no more gray hairs or at least very few will come in. But I realize every once in awhile, when the urge of trying something new over comes my fears, that I need to live and living inside of a box just doesn’t allow that to happen. So I did it….
I got on a plane and left my country. I hate flying so if I have to get on that winged bird; it has to be going someplace that will get me there by the time my tranquilizer has worn off. That’s probably why Florida has always been a regular spot for me to go. But this time, my flight would be 9 hours. That’s 540 minutes or 33,600 seconds. I sweated for weeks just thinking about the long flight and that’s when I decided to play games with my head and turn it into minutes, maybe it wouldn’t sound so bad. When the 540 number came up along with my heartbeat, I decided let me turn that into seconds. When the 33,600 number came up, I fainted.
Not one to admit I was weak, I decided that if I planned it just right, I would take some tranquilizers and be asleep most of the flight, listening to Michael Buble soothing my frayed nerves. If nothing else worked, I would drive my husband crazy by spending the entire trip blaming him for suggesting that going to Italy to meet our daughter would be a good idea. I was prepared either way. What made matters worse was that my flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 5:30pm. That meant I’d have the whole night before the trip, the next day and the rest of the afternoon of the trip, to stress out over it. And if I had taken an tranquilizer then I’d not be able to function and with my luck I’d wind up going to the airport late, missing my flight and having to deal with this all over again. So I decided to let it go, put it out of my mind and not think about anything but seeing my daughter the following day. Oh yes, did I mention she had been living in Italy for 5 weeks? Well, that’s a whole other story but that in it self made me nuts.
I was fine the morning I woke up. No jitters, no nerves. I was ready to deal with this fear. I took a long hot bath, got myself all prettied up and even had the sense to make some sandwiches to take on the plane. My husband thought I was nuts but I told him what if the airline food wasn’t so great. I didn’t want to really tell him what I was thinking, and that was What if we got stranded and there was no food at all? My handy dandy sandwiches would come in to save the day until the search party they sent to find us came.
The moment arrived. We got to the airport, checked in and went to our gate. I was fine. No pills yet. I was doing well. I was so proud of myself that I even allowed myself a treat; a five dollar coffee from Starbucks. I don’t ever do that you see. I can’t understand what’s so great about that coffee that they would have to charge me for one cup the same amount that I pay for a pound of it in my supermarket. But today was a special day. I was feeling so grown up and even my husband commented that I looked calm, cool and collected. And I was…until…
It was a few minutes before they were to open the doors to start letting people in. I got up to take one last trip to the ladies room. When I returned, there was a pilot sitting next to my husband. In his hands was a HOW TO BOOK! I stood frozen in my spot, looking down at the pilot, my eyes bulging. How could this be? How could I have been so unlucky to get on a plane with a pilot that was reading instructions on how to fly the plane before he got on the plane? My husband looked up at me, and followed my gaze. I remembered him saying something to me but all I could hear was “DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER!”
Okay… so he wasn’t actually going to fly our plane, he was coming along for the ride and studying up on some test he was taking later on. Still, that set off some bells and whistles in my head and I decided I’ll just take the tranquilizers and leave my fear in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies…. until….
I saw him. Saffron man. He had the brightest orange pants with some kind of sixties print type shirt. His hair was in a ponytail and what was left of it on top of his head was frizzy. No, it wasn’t frizzy, it was screaming out to me. It was telling me, “I can see you; I know you are scared, I’ll be sitting right next to you for the next nine hours, 560 minutes, 33,600 seconds.Bozo had nothing on this man’s hair. I elbowed my husband, telling him, “Look. It’s him. It’s saffron psycho man. Bozo’s cousin. He’s going to be trouble, I just know it.” My husband said he was harmless to leave him alone and relax. Sure, I thought to myself. That’s easy for him to say. I could see the headlines now…”SAFFRON PSYCHO man steals home made sandwiches from Tranquilized woman”. Well, we got on the flight and I couldn’t find Saffron man so I decided out of site, out of mind. But you know how when you are freaking out about something and you work yourself into frenzy and then you work yourself right out of that frenzy and finally calm yourself down? That’s what happened to me…until….
The kid behind me had a nerve problem with his leg. And each time I tried to doze off, he’d remind me with a kick to the back of my seat that dozing off was just not going to happen; At least not for the next two hours. Finally, he dozed off. I grabbed one of my many other packed snacks (well I didn’t know how long it would take the rescue team to find me), nibbled on it a bit and tried to get some shut eye and it was working…. until The baby in the row next to me decided she needed to exercise her lungs and of course she was right next to me, so it’s a given that the highest decibel of her sweet voice entered my ear and shattered my calm nerves. I was up again. Now what? I turned to speak to my husband and of course he was passed out. I contemplated playing with his nose. I had a straw and thought it might not be such a bad idea to see how far I could stick it in as I was annoyed that throughout all of this going on he could sleep through it. But I thought if I had done that he’d get upset and that would be worse than the two kids I had encountered already. So I put on my Bose head phones and allowed Michael Buble to come into my world.
I woke up to the Flight Attendant asking me if I wanted some breakfast. Breakfast? Had I been flying that long? And if I made it that far, that meant the plane didn’t crash, the baby fell asleep and little Mr. fidgety legs had calmed down. Now all that was missing was Bozo’s cousin. I decided to freshen up after eating my continental breakfast when the bathroom sign declared it was occupied. I was about ready to explode and was very tempted to cross over to the closed curtain and use the first class bathrooms. All the bathrooms in coach were occupied. I felt grungy and I needed to use the bathroom in the worst possible way. Little by little I inched over to the closed curtain. The signs were still saying occupied but the ones in the first class section were all vacant. Who would notice that I had crossed over to the other side? I had the curtain in my hand, I peeked. No one said a word… I began to move the curtain over to the other side, little by little. Still not a word from any one. One of the bathroom signs in the coach class had suddenly turned from occupied to vacant but I was on a roll. Now it was a test to see if I could not only get to the other side and pee but to not get caught doing it. I was in. I was on the other side. I was half way down the aisle. All those ritzy first class folks were fast asleep. I noticed they had all already eaten their breakfast which was warmer than ours and not served in plastic cartons. Now my mission to pee in first class became a mission to pay them back for thinking they were better than me.
I made it! I got into the bathroom, shut the door, dropped my undies and peed in first class. I fought the temptation to yell, “Whoooooooooo Hooooooo! Look at me! I’m peeing in First Class!” When I finished my business it suddenly hit me that maybe I had gotten caught and the first class bathroom authorities were waiting outside for me, ready to cuff me. I panicked. I froze. If I came out and they were waiting for me, every one would know I had cheated and they’d know I had peed. So much for stepping out of my box.
I heard the captain instruct the Flight Attendants that they had to prepare the cabin for landing. Was I there that long? I had to get out and I knew that now all the Flight Attendants would be all over the cabin counting passengers, collecting garbage and looking for me. There was only one thing to do. I pulled the knob to the side to let myself out, walked out as fast as I could and headed to the other side. Just as I was making my way to the other side, just as I was beginning to feel the divided curtain perk itself up to welcome me back to the other side, Bozo showed up. He looked straight at me. Smiled. Tilted his head to one side and asked, “Did ya have a nice flight?” I stared. I nodded yes and tried to move to the side, getting past him, and scurrying to my seat. I heard him utter, “Some people…weird.” Bozo was calling me weird? As if…
“Everything okay?” My bright eyed and very relaxed husband asked. I ignored him. I had started this flight traumatized by a “Getting to know your plane” pilot, A screaming baby, a kid with Cirque De Soleil legs, a sneaky trip to the other side of the world on the same plane that I was on, and Bozo, and he wanted to know if everything was okay? I just nodded, buckled myself in and waited for my day outside of the plane to begin. Before I knew it, we were landing. We were in another country. We were four hours away from seeing my baby girl. And I did it all without benefit of tranquilizers. Maybe I should have taken them. Yes, I stepped out of my box all on my own and it felt good. And I still had my sandwiches and snacks in tact. Well, ya never know if we get stranded on the way to the hotel. One can never be too sure. When ya step outta the box, you’ve got to be prepared.
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron – Word count 2070