Well, I had an emergency
landing. Man, what excitement. I guess I was tested and I
proved again that I won't cry out to god. We were shot at
and missed. I'm sitting on the floor of a closed airport in
Amarillo, Texas typing this. The whole thing happened about
a half-hour ago.
My National airlines flight from JFK to SinCity was an hour
late at the gate and then we sat on the tarmac for another
hour. I never care. I dozed a little and read. The plane
didn't have many people on it, First Class had only 3. I
had two seats to myself. I read and I typed. After doing
that for a while, I put on my MP3s (only moral ones) stuck
my earphones in and went to that weird half-sleep place
where I listen to music.
I could see the lightning through my eyelids as it hit the
plane and I was enjoying myself, just hoping my batteries
would last long enough to finish the flight. I had the
music loud, but there was a flash that was really bright and
then that smell (ozone? What is that electrical fire
smell?). I still didn't care. All of a sudden the flight
attendant was shaking me and saying, "We're making an
emergency landing. We're going down." It was way serious,
no kidding around. I pulled out my headphones and I came in
the middle of the instructions. We were being told how to
brace ourselves and how to go down the emergency slides and
avoid fire. I had missed the first part of it, so I pulled
out my card and boned up. I even practiced the position. I
put my computer in the pocket in front of me. I pulled my
hair back tight. I took a couple deep breaths. The flight
attendant came over to me and asked me if I understood
everything. I said I thought I was ready. She said I was
very calm and I said yeah. She said, "Would you help us?"
I said, "I'll do anything."
She brought out the emergency book and taught me how to help
her open the door. She said, "You'll check for fire with me
out the window. When we're clear, we'll turn the crank
together and then you go down the slide first. When you're
at the bottom, you'll help the others as they come down.
You kind of catch them and then tell them to move away from
the plane." I said, "I've been down the slide before, it's
fun. I'm ready to help. Is there anything else you need?"
She said, "you understand you'll be moving others away from
the plane and not moving away yourself?"
"Yeah, that's fine. I'm very cool with that."
"Do you understand everything?"
"When does the screaming come in? Are we going to get a
chance to all scream?"
She looked a little scared. I smiled and said, "Hey, it's
going to be fun, girlfriend, let's lock and load. This is life."
A guy came up from coach and said he was an off duty flight
attendant and he was ready to help. We decided that we
would work together, I'd take the bottom, I'd catch and he'd
take the top. I said, "What a cheeseball way to get into
First Class." He laughed. I asked her "Where we crashing?"
"Amarillo, it's an emergency landing at an airport."
"Oh, that'll be easy."
The off duty guy said, "We won't even have to evacuate I
bet, the plane is under control, it's just that fire smell,
they have to do this."
She said, "It'll be a few minutes." Another flight
attendant came by and said, "You're taking the bottom of the
slide?" I said yeah. I told her I'd been talked to, but
she could run stuff by me again. We talked about the door
and the slide and looking for fire. You could smell it.
It was getting close. I pulled my seatbelt so tight that it
hurt. I took my glasses off and put them in my pocket where
I could grab them. I practiced my position. I took a
couple of deep breaths and smiled big. I turned to the off
duty guy and said, "You ready to rock, girlfriend? You
throw them down, I'll catch them."
Okay, here we go. I thought about the fact that I might
die. I realized, of course, that that was always true. I
ran over in my head if there were any regrets, I decided now
was not the time to be able to fix any of those. I thought
about how cool "Plane Crash Penn" was going to look and I
got very excited. I tried to remember everything so far, so
I could write it down.
I could see the lights of the landing strip and we were dead
on. It was clear there was no problem. I waited to hear
"Brace" but I never did. We touched down very smoothly. We
were going much too fast, but it was very smooth. We didn't
brace, we didn't evacuate. It was over in no time. I
wasn't even shook a little. "Oh man, we don't get the slide."
We were in the middle of the runway with no stairs, nothing.
Now that death had been cheated, people started complaining.
"I'm going to move up here, you guys almost kill me, I want
a First Class meal," a guy said. "Oh toughen up," I said.
When we finally got in the terminal he said, "Will you do a
magic show for us?" and then he leaned over and said,
quietly, "I have a thumb tip you can use."
So, we were in the plane for a while and everyone was still
shook but slowly they started to get into good moods. The
flight attendant pointed to me and said, "I woke him up and
told him we had to have an emergency landing and he smiled."
I said, "What else was I going to do?"
They took a long time but they got stairs to us. They
warned us that it was very windy (it was weather that got
us), I stepped out on the stairs and my "Daily Show with Jon
Stewart" hat was gone down the runway. It was out of site
in no time. Well, it was a free hat. Now we're in the
closed airport. They brought us cheese and soft drinks. I
was saying, "Oh boy, a picnic in Amarillo." It's going to
take another hour and a half for the plane from Vegas to get
here to pick us up and then we're off to Vegas. I don't
know when we'll get in. I would guess about 5am or so.
It was fun. I actually felt for a while that I was going to
crash and die. It wasn't a bad feeling. It was nothing
like a roller coaster, it wasn't physical, it was all mental.
It was a nutty thing to feel. I tried not to be dramatic or
goofy, but I thought I should take time to think about it.
If I did die, it wouldn't matter if I thought about it, but
if I lived, I wouldn't want to miss the chance to think about dying.
So, it all worked out well. And how cool is "Plane Crash