I Am A Worrywart; Is That A Bad Thing?

How I would look providing aid and comfort to a fellow traveler. If I had done so.

I worry too much.  My husband often tells me that.  But there’s nothing like a near-death experience to put things in perspective.

My 2 daughters and I were on a flight into Chicago last Saturday.  Weather was bad on the ground so we circled overhead for about 45 minutes before the captain said we were good to go.  He turned on the fasten seat-belt sign and warned it might get a “little bumpy”.

It was a “little bumpy” the way the dentist warns you may feel a “little pinch” with a shot in the roof of your mouth, or the Ob/Gyn says that childbirth may cause a “little discomfort”.

After a couple of rough bumps, the plane lurched violently to the left; the arms of the seat dug sharply into our ribs.  Then it lurched violently to the right, snapping the seatbelts into locked position.  Then it dropped.

Several women were screaming, including one across the aisle from me.  The poor man right behind her, a Caribbean gentleman who had never flown before, called to God for help.  I assume lots of people were praying. I know I was.  He, however, was shouting.  “JE-sus.  JE-sus. DEAR Lord, SAVE us!”  Every 30 seconds or so he would fling his arms up and call out “JE-sus!”

I grabbed each daughter’s hand and held on tight, trying to impart strength and calm.  At least I thought I had each daughter’s hand, but in all the hubbub I had grabbed two of Gwen’s, and Liz was outside the protective circle of love I was building.  I dropped one of Gwen’s hands and fished for Liz’s, ignoring her attempts to pull away.  She took time during the crisis to flash me a look of annoyance. 

But I held on with a death grip anyway.  Because that’s what it might have been.

The thing is, I had already pre-worried this whole scenario. 

In my pre-flight worrying, I had covered just about all of the major disasters that could befall us: hijacking, terrorism, and going down due to bad weather or equipment malfunction.  I had even outlined a few scenarios that were, in retrospect, a bit unlikely.  Things like contracting Legionnaire’s Disease from the recycled cabin air.  (Although that might still come to pass – it has only been a few days and I don’t know what the incubation period is for Legionnaire’s.)

In the bad weather scenario, I saw me gripping the girls’ hands in a circle of protective, calm, strengthiness.  I fantasized about us joining spontaneously in prayer, and exchanging one last, loving look as I whispered, “God bless you”, right before the end.

By now you’ve probably figured out that we did not end up scattered across the south side of Chicago.  I don’t think you can access WordPress from the 5th circle of hell.  The pilot touched down smoothly, and then hit the brakes so hard we all pressed our feet to the floor as if it would help him stop this Instrument of Death.  The cabin erupted in applause and cheering as the plane slowed, just like in the movies.

Only the handholding part of my pre-event worrying actually came to pass, and that was marred by Liz’s undramatic attitude.

The Caribbean gentleman sat with his head in his hands after the worst of the ordeal, which seemed to last forever, but was probably all of 7 minutes.  In the thick of it I wanted to reach across the aisle to hold his hand, but I couldn’t break the circle with my daughters.  I risked a glance at him as we landed and he looked at me and said, in his beautiful, singsong island voice “It is too much.  It is just too much.”  I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant, but I agreed whole-heartedly.

What I’ve taken away from this experience is that pre-event worrying has a definite place in one’s preparedness arsenal.  Without it, I probably wouldn’t have come up with the calm handholding strategy and may have spent my last moments on earth screaming my fool head off.

As to the Caribbean gentleman, when I last saw him he was shakily stepping off the plane and vowing never to fly again.  Without flying, I figure he’ll make it back home sometime around October.  If his ship doesn’t get blown off-course during a hurricane.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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27 Responses to I Am A Worrywart; Is That A Bad Thing?

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    So glad you made it safely home. Is Liz still shooting death rays of annoyance at you?
    Reminds me of a flight I was on many years ago, when we had to land in a snowstorm. Apparently, the runways had not been cleared so the pilot had to land extra-hard to make sure the wheels were on the ground, not just on top of the 2 feet of snow. Made good use of that handy little bag in the seat pocket.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That was the only good thing about this. I was too busy being terrified to feel sick. Apparently fear works as well as Dramamine. Which is good, because I was worried that I hadn’t brought any.

      Like

  2. Jackie says:

    Thank the good Lord I read this after my first flight, which was also to Chicago and happened a mere month ago. This was traumatizing to read, let alone live through – So glad you’re all right!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’ve been on bumpier flights, where I was afraid I was going to lose my lunch, but never on one where I thought I might lose my life as well. But air travel is much safer than automobile, blah, blah, blah…

      Like

  3. carol says:

    hysterical!
    love you guys!

    Like

  4. egills says:

    As my parents say – if we were supposed to fly we’d have wings… says the woman who has a panic attack walking over a bridge! Planes just scare the cr*p out of me and if I can get somewhere without having to step one foot on them I’m happy.
    Glad to hear you survived the experience although now you have more fuel for your worrying!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m not really a fearful flyer. I just like to worry through all possible scenarios that might involve a bad outcome, and flying offers a lot of material.

      Like

  5. Whew. Glad it turned out OK. I’ve been in a couple near-disasters, but I still love to fly. It really is way safer than driving. I know, I know, that doesn’t help you.

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    • pegoleg says:

      No, really, I don’t have a problem with flying. I enjoy it. I just like to pre-worry the possibilities for most situations, and this one turned out to be actually terrifying. I didn’t expect that.

      Like

  6. Big Al says:

    Wow. Been on a couple of those too. I’m with you. I think the pre-worry plan is the way to go. Can’t hurt. The only thing I did differently was to learn to speak Jive. You know, just in case.

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  7. Glad you made it out in one, living piece. The WordPress universe needs you here. I was on a flight on a small plane (every seat was not only an aisle seat, it was a window seat too!) into a small airport with a nasty crosswind. You get worried when you can see the end of the runway from a window that is supposed to allow you to just look out the side but it all went well. And after all, what doesn’t kill us make us full of humorous tales to tell other people. Like yours.

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    • pegoleg says:

      I like your attitude, Chris. I haven’t been on a little plane like that in years, but instead of danger, all I remember about the experience was the barfing. I have a bit of an issue with motion sickness.

      Like

  8. Sandy Sue says:

    You’ll be happy to know you weren’t in the Fifth Circle of Hell (Anger), but rather out on Hell’s patio where weathermen and flight attendants get grilled to crispy perfection.

    Like

  9. Libertarian says:

    Another hilarious story from Peg-O-Leg!! I can just see the annoyed look on Liz’s face!! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about it in person, dear sis!

    Like

  10. They say “a little bumpy” or “a little turbulence”, but what would happen if they said, “Hold on tight, this is about to get crazy scary!”?

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  11. I’m so glad you and your daughters made it safely, Peggy!

    I’ve been flying fairly often over the last thirty years since moving 1000 miles away from home…I don’t hate it, but it’s not my favourite thing to do! The worst flight I’ve ever endured was on a small commuter flight between Toronto, Ontario and Columbus, Ohio in the late 80s…my mom, my oldest daughter (who was a year old at the time), and I were the only females on the plane full of businessmen. The plane was so tiny that I had trouble standing upright (I was about 5’6″ tall then). There was a couch with seatbelts attached to it running down one side of the plane instead of seats. The flight was very bumpy, and the commuters glared at me as I proceeded to use every barf bag on the plane! Never again…

    Wendy

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You poor thing! Those little planes are the worst. A family friend took me up in his plane when I was about 11. A big treat, except that I barfed all over. For some reason he never asked me again.

      Like

  12. poetgranny says:

    You had me laughing with tears at the 5th circle of hell. You have a wonderful knack for showing the thin line between terrifying and hilarious. I too am a total worry wart. If all is well, I will invent a list.

    Like

  13. Pingback: Embracing the Whack-A-Mole Philosophy of Life | Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

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