Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On Good Authority

Holy Christ, I am so unbelievably bored at work right now that I am seriously considering filing. That's how slow it is. I've read all the internet I can stand, so without anything else to do, I thought I'd share the below with you. Apologies extended to those who have already heard this story.

When I was flying home from Texas recently, our plane hit some powerful turbulence. I've been on bumpy flights before - I remember a flight through a storm in which the sound of thunder played percussive counterpoint to the score of passengers throwing up. But this was different. This was the kind of turbulence you see in movies or tv shows. The plane shook, then dropped about five feet. People screamed, stuff flew off the beverage cart. The plane continued to shake. It's a bit like an earthquake: it's not the unexpected rumble that's unsettling. It's the fact that it doesn't stop.

I was sitting in the window seat of the last row. The rest of the row was taken up by a family: father and son next to me, mother and two daughters across the aisle. When the shaking began, the son made a worried noise and turned to his father, who told him with a calm and matter of fact tone of voice "It's okay. Don't worry. It's okay." He turned to his daughters and said the same thing. Hearing him say this immediately calmed me, too. I thought "Yeah it's scary, but I can deal with it."

I'm not someone who inherently respects or trusts authority. Part of this may come from growing up during the Viet Nam war. Part of it may be my loner nature, and part of it comes from being a recovering cynic and smart-ass. I decided a long time ago that the rules an authority gives you are for their benefit, not your's. Once the shaking stopped, I found it funny that an authority figure saying that everything was okay was what I wanted and needed, even though I knew he was no better informed about our situation than I was. But he was right. His role of "opinion leader" completely changed how I felt about the plane's rocking. It kept me from going into full Jerry Lewis mode.

I was glad he was there. As a "thank you" I gave his kid my Skittles.



Gosh I hope the above posting is grammatically correct! Okay, maybe my recovery from being a smart ass will have to be a one-day-at-a-time proposition.

11 comments:

Iva said...

I think a lot has to do with the "Father Figure" saying it was OK. Was he older than you? I used to find that when someone older than I said it was Ok, I was immediately calmed. However, these days it is hard to find many people older than me...so I just go with the flow and/or panic.
Mom

Iva said...

Make that second "than me" than I.
Mom

k.c. said...

"yours," not "your's"

otherwise you're pretty well in the clear.

and i didn't know you were in recovery. what for??

the hanged man said...

I'm in recovery for being a smart ass...although I seem to have lots of relapses!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hanged Man,
People are really grammar conscious with their comments. Do they think it's NPR or something? I'd be writin' down that shit as you feels it dog.

Julie said...

When I was reading your story my first thought was the same as Mom's. Even if he wasn't old, the man wasn't saying it was ok because he knew it, but because his love for his children made him want to dispel their fear. Maybe that's what calmed you.
Julie PS You're a recovering WHA???? Since when?

Erin said...

Mom,when do you "go with the flow?"

I love you, don't kill me.

Glenn Hopper said...

Greetings from another hanged man ...

the squid said...

I like the part when you talk about being a loner. It reminds me of Pee-Wee Herman. As for grammar english typing you real well,

the hanged man said...

Thank you, Squidward. Speaking of Pee-Wee Herman, there's an interview with him in the Onion AV Club this week. Unfortunately, it's not a very good interview.

Now get back to work. City hall needs you.

Number 2 Sister said...

Mom, you were right the first time -- the second reference should be "than me" because the subject of that clause is "people who are" and "me" is an object (or something like that).

Anonymous -- sorry, dog: some of us were English majors. We can't help being grammar conscious. It's a bit like OCD . . .