Family Practice: Business or pleasure?Written by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not one for airplanes. I am fully aware of the statistical data that should more than assure me that everything will be OK, but I also have an unreasonable, overactive fight-the-flight response that kind of scares the bejesus out of me. I will fly when it makes sense and I am in awe of its amazement factor. However, flying still makes me feel like I’m in a toy plane dangling from a string.
I’m much more rational when I’m not the one in the plane and don’t feel overly nervous about others flying the friendly skies without me. My husband Mike’s recent business trip to Massachusetts was no exception. My parents had just flown safely to Hawaii, so Mike would obviously be just fine, too (according to my fairly baseless and illogical train of thought). Of course, I did decide to check a flight tracker around the time he should be landing just to feel extra good about the whole thing. Big mistake.
Instead of doing the boring, predictable thing and arriving at the estimated time, Mike’s plane started circling the little dot representing the airport and then completely disappeared. Apparently, the disappearing just indicates that the plane has landed, though I think the loved ones of airline passengers would much prefer a smiley face, thumbs-up symbol or something of the like. Either way, leg one was finally the success I assumed it would be.
However, the spontaneous little detour around Philadelphia International Airport’s surrounding airspace was just long enough to make me wonder if Mike would still be able to catch his connecting flight. I eventually decided to text and ask him, hoping he wouldn’t actually text back until a couple of hours later. I imagined him performing a “Home Alone” style airport run that culminated in a spectacular, just-made-it-on-board success story that would prevent him from communicating with the outside world until he had safely landed in Hartford. No such luck.
I received a text back almost immediately and learned that he did, indeed, miss his flight but would be back in the air less than two hours later. It was around this time that I started realizing the nor’easter snowstorm that had been predicted a couple of days earlier was no joke. I thought for sure that a wife who worries wouldn’t be subjected to her husband, who rarely flies, flying right into the path of a macro-scale storm, but I’ve been wrong before.
As the day dragged on, Accuweather.com did its best to keep me nervously on the edge of my seat. Mike tried to help me pass the time by giving me odd, cryptic jobs to perform from home. “Can you look up this number of a company in Atlanta and then see if this guy on Facebook works there?” Considering my husband doesn’t know anyone in Atlanta and doesn’t use Facebook, I added “Mike might be leading a double life” to the flying and weather-related concerns I had already established for the day.
Of greatest concern was the airline passenger flight delay torture Mike was no doubt experiencing.
He went from spending hours in a large, crowded airport terminal rearranging his flight schedule and tracking down his conference transportation buddy (aka, the mysterious Mr. Atlanta) to hours in a cramped plane waiting in line on the runway. I thought about searching for that “Passenger Bill of Rights” I have heard so much about as I pictured the love of my life hungry, miserable and ready to bust open the emergency exit. I couldn’t help but text him to check in on his surely fragile state of mind.
I relayed my concern that he had been on the grounded plane for so long and passed on my best wishes with the timeless sentiment, “Hope it doesn’t suck too much!” He replied with a calm and collected, “Nah — just reading.” I immediately realized that I had mistaken my husband for our 3-year-old in the same situation or, more likely, me.
It then occurred to me that sitting in a plane in a snowstorm reading with no one depending on you within 500 miles is probably much more relaxing than being at home with three screaming kids, an unremitting spouse and a house/life full of issues. In fact, sitting on that runway may be the most relaxing thing Mike has done all year.
I’m not usually one for airplanes, but perhaps the claustrophobia/acrophobia/agoraphobia 1-2-3 punch that is air travel might still be worth a few quiet, carefree hours to myself. If nothing else, I’m glad my better half had the opportunity to experience such a thing. Lucky dog.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.