Sincerely Sire Newsletter-August 2003

      Stop Your Crying and be a Woman!

I'm sitting at the airport in Indianapolis, Indiana at five o’clock in the morning trying to decide if I’m going to get back on that #%@! plane again, or any plane ever again for that matter.

At 10:10 p.m. on June 21, 2003 Roe and I boarded redeye flight 120 at Los Angeles International Airport. We did our best to get comfortable in the tight quarters for the 5 hour nonstop flight to Boston, Massachusetts. Our first real vacation in almost three years.

As soon as the plane took off Roe went to sleep. I put the headphones on, turned to some easy listening music and was actually able to doze off myself, quite an accomplishment for a control freak like me who only flies when his wife makes him.

So, about two hours into the flight, around midnight, my worst fears, are, of course, realized. “Ladies and gentleman” the captain booms over the intercom, “I’m sorry, but we have lost our hydraulic system — but he said, on a brighter note, “we have managed to save most of the hydraulic fluid.” Well, that made me feel a lot better right away. They had saved most of the hydraulic fluid. Hey, that was great — so when are going to crash? And then, “Please ignore the loud popping sucking sound emanating from the craft, that is just the backup pump working.” He went on to say that he was going to “just keep right on flying to Boston” — only another 3 hours.

While the rest of the passengers on the plane sat bolt upright in their seats and began to nervously debate their expected life spans, and the captain “just kept right on flying,” Roe, true to form, just kept right on sleeping.

I knew I was not going back to sleep. No way. I was very very scared — the hydraulic system was out. What happens if the backup system goes out? Don’t the hydraulics control things like — THE PLANE!? You know, the flaps, the rudder, the landing gear — stuff like that.

As I sat with a sinking feeling in my stomach, gazing out the window into the black night, wondering if it were my time, sleeping beauty awoke and I made a command decision right on the spot: I would be heroic. This was my time to be a hero. I always knew my time would come. This was it. I would not tell her that we were in immanent danger of crashing. I was the man. I would be brave for both of us.

Unfortunately, at the precise moment I decided to be heroic, I spotted the caption emerging from the cockpit and walking swiftly —urgently? — to the rear of the plane. He was back in the galley for less than a minute and then he shot right back up to the cockpit. And then, a flight attendant dashed down the aisle back to the galley. Was that smoke I smelled? What was going on? Are we going to CRASH?! Where’s my mommy?

Roe had noticed none of this commotion and I still hadn’t told her about the hydraulics problem. I couldn’t believe she didn’t ask me about the loud sucking popping sound of the backup hydraulic system. She never notices anything. It drives me crazy.

Then, suddenly, with no warning, the plane dove and made a steep bank to the left and simultaneously the captain came on over the intercom and said “I’m sorry folks but there is smoke and some kind of an electrical problem in the galley and we are going to have to make an unscheduled — emergency — landing. We will be on the ground in fifteen minutes” . . . in what form I wondered?

Okay, that was it. Apparently it was my time. The flight attendants told us to put on our seat belts and be prepared to use the emergency exits and chutes. My mouth went powder dry. I looked at Roe, concerned about her, and told her what had been going on, about the hydraulics failure and so on. Was she going to be okay? I hoped she wouldn’t panic. I looked solemnly into her eyes and told her I loved her, and then — she put her hand on my shoulder and calmly told me not to worry, everything was going to be okay. She was cool as a cucumber. I will never forget this about her.

The woman should have been an astronaut or a bullfighter or something. She has no fear. The only thing she was concerned about was me. Well, if she really cared about me she could of at least pretended to be afraid, just a little bit at least. I mean why couldn’t she have said, “Oh honey, I am so scared.” But noooo, she’s got to make me feel like Chicken Little.

So, from the time the captain said we were going to make an unscheduled landing, to the time our wheels touched down, was the longest fifteen minutes of Chicken Little’s life. And hombre — she was just annoyed that her vacation was going to be delayed.

But as it turned out we weren’t out of the woods yet. Smoke began to fill the rear of the plane. I looked out the window at the emergency vehicles and fire trucks speeding along side our taxiing plane and thought “Just stop the plane, deploy the emergency chutes and get us out of here — NOW! But they didn’t and we had to stay on the plane another 30 minutes until they could find the plane a parking spot. Finally, at 4 a.m. we were allowed disembark.

It took them about four hours to fix the plane. Turns out the hydraulics had never been out, it was just a bad sensor, which caused the backup system to kick in. And the smoke, that was caused by a faulty electrical outlet to the coffee maker.

So here I sit, back in the air (Roe made me get back on the plane — 6 out of 138 passengers didn’t) knowing now, for sure, what I have long suspected: My wife is more of a man than I am. I hate it when that happens.

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