Hit them running

>> Monday, March 21, 2011

So, I'm in transit today.

In one sense, sitting here at JFK, I'm halfway home. In another sense, obviously, I'm nowhere near home. It depends on how you look at things. Well, everything does, when you get right down to it.

Flying from Austin to New York, I found myself thinking of where I was in terms of mountain heights; JetBlue offers every passenger an LCD TV on the back of the seat in front of him, and one of the channels you can watch is a map channel showing you roughly where your plane is and how high you are and how fast you're going. I was occasionally looking at the screen, when I wasn't drowsing or looking out the window or reading an e-book; I was thinking, "And now we're one Everest high; a man needs an oxygen bottle to survive very long, though he might manage a few minutes without one. And now we're ten thousand feet over Everest; no hope there. Now we've dropped to the altitude of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'd be alright...." Which is a bit absurd, of course; if you find yourself hurtling through the sky at six hundred miles an hour suddenly sans airplane, where your air comes from isn't really your biggest concern, y'know?

It's not a fear thing, you have to understand, it's a perilous fascination. Remember that Ray Bradbury story about the astronauts scattered about in space after their ship breaks up, and they've been flung this way and that, and one guy is sunbound and another is falling into infinity, and then there's the guy who is falling to Earth? That always stuck with me because I have this terror-fascination of falling, of the idea of being in free fall and conscious of your increasing weight, or the significance of your weight, maybe.

Clouds look like snowbanks. Like arctic plains. You could jump down and land on them. But not really.

The other thing it reminds me of is something Stephen King once wrote about how every time he flies, he imagines a flight attendant opening an overhead bin and rats pouring out. It's not a sensible thing, but it's a vivid image. There's no way for all those rats to get inside an overhead bin, but plenty of reason for them to be in there anyway: after all, if you were a million rats and wanted to drop down on somebody's head, clawing and biting and squeaking, that would really surprise someone wouldn't it? What a great way to get someone. They'd never expect it, which makes it pretty perfect. (Toilets have been done, anyway; rats coming up through the sewer pipe and ending up in the bowl. It's almost disappointing when there isn't one on there, rat-paddling around in angry circles.)

Thinking about it, I'll bet if you had to open a door to get away from the rats, you'd be okay if the plane was an Everest our lower, you'd just have to hold your breath. And I'll bet you could land on those clouds, too--the trick would be to hit them running.


3 comments:

John the Scientist Monday, March 21, 2011 at 8:21:00 PM EDT  

It's not the rats in the toilet that bother you so much as the snakes.

Nathan Monday, March 21, 2011 at 9:55:00 PM EDT  

It might also be a good idea to whip off your pants and tie the leg holes shut at the ankles. You could use it as a parachute...at least slow yourself down a some.

Hey...every little bit helps, right?

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