Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pigs on the Wing

We're at the point where people are so casual about their neuroses they use them as small talk. You're next to someone on a bus, and to make conversation, she starts telling you that when she leaves the house, she has to lock and unlock the door sixteen times because her mother once told her she had fat hands.

There are more support groups than there are Starbucks, and everyone acts as amateur psychologist to himself and his friends. With so many "experts" on the loose, it is not surprising that every layer of every quirk is now assigned an elaborate nomenclature.

Despite all this, there is still one fear that collects no sympathy: fear of flying. When people aren't outright mocking you for having it, they are giving you advice that demonstrates how little consideration they've given it:

"Oh you get scared on planes? Just watch a movie."

No one would ever give this advice to quell other fears. If someone afraid of dogs had to spend several hours at the local pound, you wouldn't say, "Oh, you're going to be surrounded by pit bulls for seven hours? No problem: just watch a few episodes of 'Dexter'."

If you're deathly afraid of something, no amount of booze, comfort food, or cinematic distraction can
relieve it. The greatest film ever can't make a terrified flyer forget the turbulence.

I sometimes wonder if the reason people are so cavalier about flying is because the concept of going 600 miles an hour at 30,000 feet is so incomprehensible that reciting "A plane is safer that a car. A plane is safer than a car." is the closest they can come to processing it.

Fear of flying is truly in its own category. No one lets you blame it on your parents. No one tells you they read a great book on how to deal with it. They just repeat a statistic* they couldn't calculate with Einstein's help and order you to get over it. That kind of callousness is a blast from the past. I'd find it refreshing if I wasn't so afraid of flying. 

*If statistics superseded emotion, the poor odds of your marriage succeeding would prevent couples from getting married. I haven't noticed a lot of wedding planners going out of business.

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