I'm sitting in the airport getting ready to enter a hollow metal tube and travel at outrageous speeds thousands of feet above the terra firma. I just keep telling myself that, even though this does appear to be impossible and quite dangerous; people do this everyday. I also repeat other mantras like: "the pilot doesn't want to crash any more that you do" or "the airlines don't want a lawsuit any more than you want to crash."
I repeat the mantras. I internally chant the mantras. I make them into little songs and sing them over and over again in my head. But just as the tension starts to leave my neck and I feel like I can remove my finger nails from the seatback that is in front of me, a little voice in my head starts to whisper,
"Even though people do this safely every day, sometime people crash".
So I switch to my second mantra, "the pilot doesn't want to crash any more that you do".
The voice whispers:
"What if the pilot is having a bad day? What if he arrived home after his last flight to find his wife in bed with another man? What if he had too much to drink before take off?"
My third, and last mantra: "the airlines don't want a lawsuit any more than you want to crash."
The voice returns:
"If the airline can cut enough corners, save enough money on expensive airline plane maintenance, things like cheaper bolts on the wings, running the jet engines into the ground, the profits would be worth the risk of a lawsuit. What if the airlines maintain their planes like you maintain your car?"
By now my neck is tense. My fingernails have found the vinyl seat back in front of me. The passenger next to me is asking if I'm all right. My skin is whiter than white. The flight attendant is rolling her eyes in my direction. She has seen this before. She signals her partner and they start to prepare the wet sheet they will wrap my in to keep me constrained. The last thing they need is a portly balding Presbyterian minister running up and down the aisles screaming.
Thankfully before they take the sheet from its compartment another voice says, "This is your captain. We will be landing in about 15 minutes."
I can hold on for another 15 minutes.