Archive for August, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Panic

Tomorrow I’ll be headed to San Antonio, Texas, to join my wife who’s there for business, and to visit some good friends.
I know that there are rumors that the one and only true reason for my trip to San Antonio is an opportunity to raid the various local Half Price Book stores, but I, of course, have to deny these slanderous and vile rumors: the fact that I travel with a ridiculously large, yet almost empty suitcase for just four days is merely incidental.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting my friends.

What I’m most certainly NOT looking forward to, is the actual flight.

I have always been fascinated by flying and airplanes.

However, ever since my maiden flight, in 1973, in an old tail dragger over the skies of that sorry excuse for a North Sea resort town, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England, flown by a seemingly deaf, blind and dumb WWI veteran, complete with stuttering engine, to the more comfortable trips in Boeing ‘Jumbo’ 747’s of such respectable companies like KLM, Quantas. Garuda en Singapore Airlines, I have been ambivalent about being the actual subject of transportation in these otherwise fascinating flying machines.

Yes, while at different times at different levels of intensity, I suffer from fear of flying.

Unlike most people with phobias, I don’t think my fear is particularly unreasonable or irrational!

Let’s face it: these things DO crash from time to time!

Sometimes I wonder about all those tens of thousands of people who, on any given day, voluntarily board an airplane.
Don’t they see the risk?

Are ALL those people of the mistaken but extremely popular opinion, that, yes, planes DO crash, but this, as by a law of nature, always happens exclusively to ‘other people’?

While this statement has been true, especially for me, so far … am I the only one who sees the fallacy in such a notion?
Don’t they see that there IS a risk that THEY will die in a crash?
True, the odds are firmly against it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Do they simply dismiss the risk based on its low odds?

But don’t these same people buy lottery tickets, hoping to become overnight millionaires on even worse odds?

Okay, admitted, that’s maybe not a good example: the ‘bad’ outcomes of each ‘bet’ aren’t really in the same ball park: losing a few bucks by ‘not winning the lottery’ isn’t nearly as life altering as dying in a fiery plane crash.

And here I am, pondering all this, knowing full well, come tomorrow, that I’ll take a deep breath, drive to the airport, park my car, check in, buy a Scientific American, eat the traditional hot dog at the food stand between gates 123 and 125 in Terminal A, and finally board that plane… accepting my fate, “playing the odds”…