Saturday, July 26, 2008


I’ll have to say that I did not find fault with the plane ride from Knoxville to Atlanta and on to Vancouver, but the added 5 or 6 hour flight from Anchorage to Seattle on the return trip, tacked on to the 7 hours on to Atlanta, and the 25 minutes to Knoxville, just about drove me over the edge!

I remember stepping to the edge twice before in my time and both of them were in Vietnam, when I “locked and loaded” on one smart ass F-4 pilot and again on two inconsiderate aircraft mechanics and their big bright ass light! This time, I’m not sure who was in danger, but I knew that if I didn’t move soon I was going to scream, and maybe even run through the plane like an idiot!

A scream on an airplane will land you in jail these days, but the thought of a roomy 8 by 10 cell began to sound wonderful to me!

All this anxiety and claustrophobia was instilled in me by my mother. Years ago, when dad worked out of town, I used to sleep with mom…why, I don’t know, especially after the second or third time she would grit her teeth and say, “Mushy (not his real name)! If you move one more time I’m going to beat the living day lights out of you! I was just trying to get comfortable…so what if it took 6 to 10 turnovers!

To look at my 100 pound momma today, you’d never know what a mean woman she used to be to me!

The flight from Seattle to Atlanta, some 7 hours long, began with me seated between two healthy gals, both of their legs touching me and forcing me to sit straight up. I learned to sleep laying back in a recliner after my shoulder surgery, but I can’t sleep one wink sitting straight up! I kept shifting my legs around, the part that makes me 6’ 1” long, but there was no way to make them or me comfortable.

Once in a while I found a position that I thought I could live with, but that feeling didn’t last long. Soon I was again searching and fidgeting! First I put one leg out and stretched it all about, then I put my other leg out and pulled the other one back, then I pushed my right hip out and then the left hip out and shook it all about!

Finally, I lay my head forward and tried to rest my head on the headrest of the person in front of me. I actually nodded off for about 1 minute when Judy (on my left) coughed! I jumped as if the engines had backfired.

Then I became conscious of my arms…the lady on my right was touching my arm and forcing me to pull it further back against the seat back. I had to keep an eye on her too because before she dozed off she had told me about her lung problems and how she needed oxygen when she slept. So, I kept looking over to see if she was turning blue! I probably shouldn’t have cared, but even if she died she was too large to stuff down out of my way!

I had to move and move I did, only in little slow deliberate motions, so as not to elicit a “IF YOU MOVE ONE MORE TIME…” from either side of me.

Somehow, I made that leg of the trip and unfolded in the terminal in Atlanta strangely waving my arms and kicking out my legs to again feel them move freely as they are supposed to do. I’m sure security kept their eyes on me though…must have been strange to see a fat man dancing down the moving sidewalk!

Now, I know, it’s just a 25-minute flight from Atlanta to Knoxville, but it was the end of those few minutes that I thought would never come!

You are supposed to check your carry-on luggage on small commuter flights…that is if you want some room. I did not want to part with my carry-on, so I tried stuffing it in the overhead…it wouldn’t fit, so I tried pushing it under the seat in front of me. It didn’t want to go there either! At this point I should have taken the bag back up front and checked it like they asked us to do…but NO! Instead I pushed and pushed and then placed my feet over the end sticking out so the flight attendant couldn’t see it.

I made it for about 10 minutes, including the 5 minute taxi time before we took off!

I shifted both feet to one side then up under the bag, but the blood was soon cut off in my toes. I repositioned them to the other side…nothing different there. I then pulled one leg up and placed my foot upon a 3-inch ledge, but soon my right leg was asleep!

I finally got one foot over under the seat in front of Judy, but it was awkward and driving me crazy.

I’m sure the discomfort was enhanced by not sleeping for over 24-hours, but to me I would have been happier in a dungeon somewhere being stretched on the rack! I needed to move and in a few more minutes, I thought to myself, everyone on this friggin’ plane is going to understand that!

Even the pilot announcing that we were descending and that we would soon be on the ground did nothing to ease my pain. Time seemed to slow down and the cabin began to get smaller and warmer! Damn, I’m going to scream, I thought if I don’t get off of this plane!

In one last desperate attempt to get some room and relief, I jerked my foot back from in front of Judy, mashing one of her toes! I was so stressed by then that I didn’t even care at the time…something had to give!

Once in the terminal, I again began the strange dancing in an attempt to re-inflate my folded extremities. Ron and I walked to the “long-term” parking area while the Dragons waited with the bags. I kept prancing like some Tennessee Walking Horse until I finally released all the anxiety that had built up over the long night.

I finally got into bed some 3 hours later, and I spread out and moved my legs freely back and forth several times from side to side, feeling the freedom. It felt so good!

Had I been a skinny man, I may have had the room a human being needs in order to be comfortable. God, it will be a long time before I get on another plane…and even then it will not be over 3 hours in duration!


Drowsey Monkey said...

lol ... omg, not sure if I'm suppose to laugh but ... I can't help it.

You created an excellent visual, and I'm glad I wasn't in the seat ahead of you ... or beside you. LOL

I hate flying too! Too claustrophobic for me ... so I get it.

Sarge Charlie said...

They keep making the seats smaller, I thought I was going to die on the trip to Rome, I think that was my last flight, 1st class looks good but cost too much

Les Becker said...

I'm a fairly tall woman, but skinny and flexible (I can literally FOLD into any position), but you've still managed to make me believe any flight I might take in future will be horrendously uncomfortable.

Thanks, Mushy. Thanks, a lot.

(Glad you made it out alive and unarrested.) :-)

Scott from Oregon said...

I'm between 6-3 and 4 and very unnimble with 38 inch inseams... That's why I walk everywhere now.

Or swim.

pat houseworth said...

Despite flying a dozen or more times a year...this old Sky Cop hates airports and flying...has nothing to do with fear, just loathing. Most airports these days are like freaking Greyhound Bus terminals.

Mushy said...

Amen! The same cast of characters!

BRUNO said...

Well, I enjoyed your flight, because I wasn't the one on it!!!

And I don't know if the seats are smaller today---or if we're just a bit-more "inflated", and/or a LOT less "compatible"?

Either way, I prefer(and insist!)on MY ass stayin' in contact with terra-firma!

Of course, it wouldn't matter. Once I got above a couple-hundred feet, nowadays I'd be DEAD from fright, anyway...!

catscratch said...

Yah. There's nothing worse than the feeling of one's ass going completely numb, followed by the feeling that it has completely flattened out.

Flying is a pain in my butt, but totally a job requirement for me.

Since 9 out of 10 of my flights are company paid, I tend to use my acculated sky miles to upgrade to first class for that reason alone... you know... so I can still feel my ass when I get there.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Dude, if you think you have a bad time, imagine me in those little sets with no leg room. Holy crap! I feel for ya, fer sure. Why the hell do you think I do these road trips in my car? Three fill-ups and I'm in Knoxville. Cheaper and a hell of a lot more comfortable than one of those puddle jumpers.

web_loafer said...

Mushy, I was reviewing some traffic to my blog.....and almost two years ago you visited my blog and commented. So I returned here again, and had a comfortable read. Don't have anything to add to the conversation, just wanted to shout your way.

Mushy said...

Glad you stopped by!