Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes and I enjoy nothing more than exploring new cities and getting away from Lebanon for short periods of time; it preserves my sanity (though nothing drives me more insane than flying.) I hate airplanes and everything about them; let it be clear. I have a ridiculous fear of flying (also known as aerophobia, aviatophobia, aviophobia or pteromechanophobia.) I do not comprehend how a plane can remain in the air during turbulence and I am always thankful to be alive when I land . . . even at the Rafic Hariri Beirut International Airport, where I’m attacked by obnoxious, loud, uncivilized Lebanese folk (reminiscent of a stampede of wild goats.) Not to drift away from the subject, my time on the plane always feels like a painful eternity in hell; whether it’s a 20 minute or 7 hour flight.
Allow me to elaborate:
1. Deodorant: Do people use it? No. Most passengers STINK. It’s not an easy task to be sitting in a locked up space for what seems like a century as you’re inhaling toxic body odor. It’s simply impossible to read, eat, sleep, or relax while you’re fighting for one odorless breath of oxygen. And no, a toilet break will not suffice since it stinks even more in there.
2. Diarrhea: Is it common? YES. I cannot come up with one scientific or logical explanation as to why passengers always leave a deadly odor behind them in the WC after the half hour they spend inside working on their “number two”. Is it stress? Is it the cold? Is it the long wait at the airport? There are airport bathrooms you know.
3. Toilets: Must they be so small? Yes, because it’s absolutely crucial to urinate all over the floor (and yourself) while you hold on to the walls with your life in fear of falling into the disgusting toilet bowl. This deserves a typical Lebanese “TFEH”.
4. Children: Do they ever shut up? No. No, no, NO! Why isn’t there a law against sound pollution in airplanes? Punishment should include slapping the crazy out of those kids – or better yet, their stupid mothers who choose to ignore how irritating they are to others (because their blessed little monkeys come first – versus 300 annoyed passengers). Haven’t these so-called mothers heard of Bebecal? Guess what? It calms your screaming babies! Yes people, there IS something to shut those little annoying nuisances up; so why must we endure all that screaming because of purely ignorant mothers? People need to sleep! People need to relax! Isn’t it bad enough that people like me are stressed and worried about death throughout the flight? Is peace and quiet too much to ask for?
5. Food: Does it taste like food? No. In fact, it tastes like nothing. It’s revolting, but you don’t have a choice when you’re tired and starving after a two hour wait. I can’t say no to food. I always end up eating this airplane “food” and I always end up enduring the heartburn that follows for the next few hours.
6. Hostesses: Are they all anal b****es? Yes. I bet you that in her CV, a hostess must check the box that says “Are you an anal b**** that is rude, obnoxious, and with a stick up your ass?” Aren’t hostesses supposed to be friendly? Why are they so pompous and full of themselves? What on earth is so prestigious or dignified about being an air hostess? To me, it just says “I want free vacations because I cannot afford to travel myself. I also couldn’t get a real job because I have no college education.” So, pardon me if I find it absolutely ridiculous when a flight attendant snubs me off or gives me an arrogant, insincere, and sarcastic smile.
7. Singing, Dancing, Jolly Peasants: MUST they exist? Yes, to annoy me while my Xanax pill finally kicks in and I finally reach the point where there’s a possibility of me sleeping. This generally includes a group of old men (that possibly do not know each other) who all have the weirdest Lebanese accents (possibly their common point and the reason they clicked) who INSIST on singing horrible Lebanese songs in their horrible voices as loud as possible. This generally also happens as soon as the obnoxious crying babies finally shut their mouths.
8. Neighbors: Must they be talkative? Yes. Make no mistake; the person sitting next to you is always so eager to strike up the most boring, meaningless conversation with you. There is a process to this no matter how much you try to avoid it. If you so as glimpse in their direction, it’s over. If you mistakenly share eye contact, it’s over. They will find the lamest way to start talking to you; asking you questions like where you’re going, why you’re going there, where you’re from, what’s your bla bla bla bla . . . When that torture is over, they will begin telling you about their boring stories that date back to their childhood. They won’t even take a hint if you yawn like a whale in their face. Your best bet is to either abruptly fall into a deep sleep where you magically can’t hear them anymore, or to follow a ruder approach like putting your headphones on to continue your movie.
9. Seats: Must they break your back? Of course, or else you wouldn’t get the full airplane torturous experience. What’s weird is that the airbus should be an improved aircraft than those that preceded it, so why can’t their seats be inclined? What wretched designed these seats? I hate him/her with a passion. Forget the tactic of not sleeping the night before you travel so that you can sleep on the plane – those days are over.
Yes, I have a fear of flying – for more reasons than one. No matter how relaxed I am from a two week vacation, a few hours on an airplane changes that. As I sign out, I’m boarding an airbus heading back to Beirut. It will be a 7 hour flight of pure physical and mental pain.
Beirut, here I come!
Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo. Al Gore