Travels and mortality

I got back from Italy about 1:30 am this morning and was feeling pretty ornery about that. It was a hard trip–a journey there early Tuesday morning and a delayed flight back late Wednesday evening. I was in Treviso near Venice but did not get to see Venice at all, thanks to the rain. (I did get to see a nice exhibition of paintings of Venice by Canaletto and others in Treviso, so it was not a total cultural loss which is good given that it was a busy business trip.) By the time I got home I was exhausted, and I had to ‘perform’ at work at noon today, including the fact that I was not prepared. My morning was thus frantic, I did my best with work but was 2 minutes late and had not enough photocopies for the numbers that had assembled. I spent the afternoon in my office whittling 90-some emails down to 30-some (more to work on tomorrow) and complaining to myself that my job was all about airplanes and emails, the science has gone out of it. All in all, I felt like it was a pretty poor experience the last few days. Then I clicked on yahoo! news and saw that a plane had crashed into the icy Hudson river.

Suddenly, one stops to count blessings. The plane was heading to a place where family members of mine live, and all survived the crash. This event was reminiscent of a crash in the 80s that has scarred me, and which was mentioned in the yahoo! article: the crash into the icy Potomac, about which a television movie was made that I can still see in my mind. Only a few survived in the Potomac, so it is a huge relief to hear that all survived today’s ordeal. And suddenly my hour delay out of Treviso, Italy looks trivial.

I take my life into my hands every time I book a plane ticket. I know this. I have great anxiety about flying, usually manifest as fears and dreams about missing flights, but also white-knuckled experiences actually on airplanes. I hate traveling, but I love having travelled. I have a passport that needs to be sent to the US embassy in London to have pages added, because it’s nearly full of stamps, and I’ve only been using it 4 years and some change. Having worked in the business of automotive safety at two different points in my career, I have the facts in mind that demonstrate that flying is actually safer than driving or being driven, but that does not somehow remove my fear associated with airplane travel. I’m sure it’s the control aspect: we feel in control when driving, and at the mercy of others when flying. I live on an island and have no choice but to travel a great deal for work, and I do travel a good amount for pleasure as well. Regardless, there’s nothing like a little airplane incident to make me feel grateful to be home.

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2 responses to “Travels and mortality

  1. It was an incredible story, wasn’t it? Yes, I thought of that Potomac accident too.

    Air travel is so safe, but so many people have a fear of it (I do – I’m much better than I used to be, but it’s still there). I think you’re right – it’s about the control. And maybe a bit of claustrophobia too.

  2. I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash, sounds like the pilot did a great job

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