Louis CK does a comedy bit about the absurdity of people complaining about their flights. He goes on to remind us that no one is interested in the minor difficulties we experience while partaking of the miracle of flight. Having said that, I think even the best stand up comedian around would cut me some slack and let me tell about the flight I took yesterday.
Let me explain.
The flight from Salt Lake City, Utah to Pocatello, Idaho is only a short 50-minute hop. To make the journey, passengers are carefully stuffed into what I call “Delta Minis.” Tiny planes that often force me to paraphrase a quote from Zoolander, “What is this, a jet for ants!?!?! It needs to be at least…three times bigger!”
I was the last one to board. I know you are supposed to get on the plane when they announce your specific boarding zone, but in situations where it is assigned seating, I like to get on last and survey the plane for the best available seat, not necessarily the one I’ve been assigned.
This flight was no exception. As soon as I hunched over, bent my knees, and duck walked onto the plane, I noticed the front solo seat was empty, which I quickly remedied (front solo seat means each row is three seats: two on one side of the aisle, and then a line of single seats).
I was the last on board, so it wasn’t long before we were air born.
Salt Lake was windy that day, with gusts up to 25 mph. But Pocatello was even windier, and somewhere between the two we hit some major turbulence. And so did my stomach.
It was the kind of stomach trouble that brings on that brief, sweaty panic that you may not be able to hold it, but then subsides in a moment of instant relief. I figured I could hold it until we touched down, and went back to reading my book. The last thing I want to do is take a 2 on this itty-bitty plane that I wasn’t entirely sure even had a restroom.
A few minutes went by, and another wave of discomfort washed over me. But this wasn’t your typical wave. My body was telling my brain very clearly, “I know you didn’t want this, but you will definitely be pooping on this plane. I’ll give you 37 seconds to decide the best place to proceed.”
Brushing aside a stern warning glare from the stewardessman, I unbuckled and dashed to the back of the plane (Due to the high turbulence factor, we had been asked to remain in our seats). I wedged myself into the bathroom and tried unsuccessfully to close the door. Yeah, unsuccessfully.
This might be a good time to remind my readers that I am 6’4” and 230 pounds when barefoot and naked. The bathrooms in this little Willy Wonka aircraft are made for someone who is no taller than 4’11” and weighs no more than 72 pounds.
Clock ticking, I had to make an embarrassing decision. I stepped out of the bathroom, turned my back to it, bent over and sort of backed up over the toilet like I was backing a truck under a trailer hitch. A Mexican guy looked over at me and we made brief eye contact before the front of the plane quickly caught his attention.
I was able to get my body hovering over the toilet, pull the accordion doors shut and drop trough just in time to unleash hell. I’ll spare you the details, but rest assured it was about as bad as it can get. Add to that the knowledge that my fellow passengers could hear me banging around in there as I smashed against the walls or hit my head on the door with every bump in the sky.
(Try to imagine yourself sitting in an outhouse in the sky. Then, imagine God strolling up to that outhouse and deciding, just for the fun of it, to grab the outhouse and shake it like a pop can)
Despair began to sink in. There is no feeling more hopeless than sitting on a toilet in the sky during rough turbulence, knowing that no matter how strong your will, you are not going anywhere until your body says so.
In the depth of my despair, however, I found a gritty resolve. It was the grim acceptance that in the event of a crash, that spot was where they would find my remains. I didn’t care if they landed the plane and deboarded, I was there until I was done. It was a new state of enlightenment for me.
Things got better. Things weren’t that bad. I made my way back to the front of the plane, fellow passengers averting their gaze, stewardessman looking past me, red with rage and disgust. I didn’t care, I had learned an important lesson.
Sure, I hope I never see any of my fellow passengers again. And yeah, Skywest probably won’t let me fly their airline again. But I learned that life can get pretty crappy sometimes (of course I used that pun), but with time it goes away. And over time, you forget about the bad times and simply end up with nothing more than a funny story to tell.