Air Travel: Merit or Malady?

11 May

My relationship with this blog is somewhat similar to that of a terrible marriage. I leave, I come back, I leave again and my brainwashed spouse is still there, waiting for my inevitable return and empty promises. But I’m back again. For good. I promise.

It’s a new year (and has been for over five months). I have new stories, a new tattoo and the same pair of ruined shoes that I’ve been wearing for far too long. Seriously though, if I lift the big toe of my right foot it appears through the top of my shoe and with the amount of puddles I manage to step in it’s a miracle that I haven’t developed trench foot. But never mind the state of my deteriorating footwear, I have a yarn to spin. I’m going to claim that this happened yesterday for the purpose of appearing current, but in reality this story is a few months old by now.

So yesterday I was minding my own business outside a bar at two in the afternoon, when this gentleman sidled up beside me and started making idle conversation. It began with the usual bullshit about the weather and whatnot, all the while  I was trying to finish my pint and get back inside because, unlike this fellow, I’m not particular fond of trying to scrape together meaningless conversation with strangers. Of course, before  I can finish,our dialogue took a turn for the peculiar and I was intrigued enough to stay and listen. Opportunities to catch a glimpse into the mind of an individual like this are so rare.

He began by telling me that the reason he was standing outside a pub at two in the afternoon wasn’t because he had decided to go for a drink. He was there because, having tried to gain entry to his house, he had discovered that his wife had gotten drunk and passed out in front of the door, barring his way. By this point in the story, I really should have excused myself and left, continuing on with my life blissfully unaware that there are people in in this world whose brains seem to function only to explain to them that oxygen is required for life and that the train hurtling towards them will probably come off a lot better in a head-on collision. But I stayed and by god, I’d stay again. Besides, he at least had an excuse for being there  so early in the day (however insane), the same cannot be said for myself.

After a brief lull in the conversation, probably due to my own brain trying to process the image of this man’s (undoubtedly lovely) wife blocking the door to his house like an overweight Gandalf the Grey, I noticed that he’d been staring off into the sky behind me with a pensive, if not sullen, expression on his face. A quick glance behind me turned up nothing out of the ordinary on my own retinal surveyors and yet when I turned to face him again he shook his head and the following conversation ensued:

EXT. FRONT OF BAR. Cars and pedestrians pass as two men have a conversation. The first, an older gentleman, balding, with a large bag on his back, is gazing into the sky. A look of confusion and sadness stains his face. The second, an attractive young fellow, innocent to the complexities of a fragile mind, is waiting for the first to speak.

MAN #1

That’s just terrible isn’t it?

MAN #2

What is?

MAN #1

Those planes.

(He points into the sky over the second man’s shoulder to a plane coming into land at the nearby airport.)

If you ask me (I didn’t), they just fly far too low sometimes.

Hold the fucking phone. There has obviously been some kind of communication error here, I think to myself. There is no way I have just heard a man complain that a plane, while clearly landing, is flying too low. Having heard this and assured myself tenfold that I wasn’t simply mistaken, I left the conversation knowing that I’d received my pay-off for hearing this man out.

I made my journey back inside in a trance . I wandered past the bar with visions of planes endlessly circling the skies drifting before me and I wondered what the world would be like if this man had his finger on the button. Land and sea transport services would receive a sudden increase in revenue and plane journeys would effectively be rendered pointless.

BZZRT! Good morning folks, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard Flight 815, departing now from Belfast International Airport. Destination… the sky. I would like to ask that you please pay attention to the safety procedures for once, as you are most definitely going to need those parachutes. Enjoy the flight.

Gavin

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