Charming and I had a six hour flight back from New York to Las Vegas and, due to our late booking, our seats weren’t next to each other. When we arrived at the airport, we approached the Ticketing Agent and asked if there were anyway to switch our seats so that we could sit next to each other. She informed us that the only seats she had available together were in an emergency exit row and asked if we would be willing and, more importantly, able to help the flight crew in the event of an emergency. We quickly agreed, with our only real thought upon hearing, “emergency row” being, “leg room!”
We took our seats in the two-seater row, Charming on the aisle and me sitting closest to the emergency exit door – also know as the potentially gaping hole in the airplane – and began reading our books. I paused briefly to watch the safety demonstration video on the small TV hovering over our heads. After all, I was a volunteer emergency crew member and although it was a thankless job, I intended to take it seriously. I then returned to my book as we began accelerating down the runway.
Seconds into the flight, a sudden, loud, and extremely alarming humming noise erupted from the door on my right! I clenched down on my book with both hands as my stomach jumped into my chest, knowing that I was seconds away from being violently ripped from the plane. When that didn’t immediately happened, I tried to calm myself and then focus again on my reading. I couldn’t read though.
The humming continued and I allowed myself to quickly unclench one hand from my book long enough to reach down and tighten my seat belt. I’m not proud of myself, but I also had the thought, “Why hadn’t I forced Charming to switch me seats like I had wanted?” Rationally, I knew that one seat further from the door was only a marginal improvement, but it was a margin of safety that I wanted more than a boyfriend at that moment, apparently. I then allowed myself to briefly look up from my book and try to get one last glance at my boyfriend who had selfishly allowed me to sit in this death seat, when I caught the eye of the blond, middle-aged, flight attendant who was sitting in the seat directly in front of Charming and facing us. She saw the look on my face – which I can only imagine resembled that of a solider who had just realized that he’d stepped on a land mine – and she gave me a subtle wink. It was then that the shame washed over me. The wink told me that the terrifying hum was just normal airplane noise and that I was overreacting.
Here I was, the person who had volunteered to be this plane’s rock during good times and even more so in bad, and I had nearly shit myself during the first imagined sign of trouble. I then lovingly glanced over at Charming, who hadn’t been phased by the noise, and conceded that maybe he didn’t owe me an apology after all.