August 2, 2017

"The man who takes the aisle seat next to me looks about my age. He’s tall, walleyed and bushy browed. Cologne, khakis."

"He does human things: clicks his seatbelt, reaches into a pocket, places a phone on the armrest between us. Then, contorting, he goes to another pocket and sets another phone facedown on his thigh. Two phones. It’s clear: We’re doomed. Here’s what happens in my pre-takeoff anxiety attack: The man toggles between devices, glancing — deviously, I decide. My heart batters that hush from two minutes ago. I throw side-eye behind my sunglasses. I read my neighbor’s texts. They’re in an app with orange bubbles, in an alphabet I don’t recognize. I twist and turn in my seat, giraffe my neck, telekinetically press the 'call flight attendant' button, gulp enough air to inflate a balloon, cloud my sunglasses with tears, sweat through my dress, think: This is it, the plane will be hijacked, I’ll die, and my fear that flying in an airplane is reckless and dumb will be confirmed...."

From "My $1,000 Anxiety Attack," by JoAnna Novak (in the NYT).

This description of irrational anxiety about hijacking is interesting. There's so much detail about the man's looks — and his writing — and yet there's not the whiff of a hint about his ethnicity. This goes to show that in the NYT, your mind may be spiraling wackily out of control and yet you maintain stiff discipline in the crucial center of political correctness.

32 comments:

Roughcoat said...

Terrible writing. Miserable person.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Wouldn't it be the kindest thing to put her out of her misery?

Imagine this limp dishrag in the hold of a carrack crossing the Atlantic. In a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Or in a boxcar headed to Treblinka or Vladivostok.

Lady, I hate to tell you this, but you're simply not fit to live. Pity? You have it. May it do you good.

What do people like this do when forced to cope with no cossets? Explode?

Bay Area Guy said...

Very Seinfeldian - an article about nothing. Nothing happens. Neurotic New Yorker writes about her feelings on airline. Yeehaw!

MadisonMan said...

Why did she pack an espresso machine in her carry-on? And how did that get through Security?

Kate said...

Like "Seinfeld", the entire episode/event would resolve in under a minute if one person turned to the other and spoke their mind.

Also, why don't more people fly 1st Class? This is like that Ann Coulter brouhaha. Such drama because you're packed like sardines. Treat yourself. Have a drink. Be Queen Betty.

rhhardin said...

New Yorkers don't profile except for maleness.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why did she pack an espresso machine in her carry-on?"

Maybe just don't drink coffee is what I'd say to her.

As for getting through security, the piece ends with her talking with the security agent who's going through the bag encountering the machine. The agent is anxious too and recommends taking Xanax and, on top of it, drinking.

I think less is more. If you've got this anxiety problem, don't drink coffee and alcohol, don't take pills, and if that doesn't work, don't take planes. If you can't do something without a substance, don't do that thing. Pare back. Life doesn't have to be complicated. Do less.

Fernandinande said...

Cologne = hint.
Xanax = crazy chick, stopped reading at that point.

The Atlantic: Warning! Intelligence Can Lead to "Pattern Detection," Which Is Racist

MadisonMan said...

why don't more people fly 1st Class?

I fly Delta. 1st Class is typically twice or more the price. I will spring for a Delta Comfort ticket though, which is an intermediate step up from Coach Class. The extra money pays for a marginally better seat (and "free" drinks!!)

I've flown 1st Class once or twice. Won a trip once, on Facebook, and I've been upgraded.
Cross-country (or international) it's more likely worth the cost. For a 2-hour flight? No.

Laslo Spatula said...

" If you can't do something without a substance, don't do that thing. Pare back. Life doesn't have to be complicated. Do less."

The people I work with wouldn't want to see me without my meds.

I am Laslo.

John said...

The pick shows her in a middle, coach, seat. From the text it is clear she is in business or first. (row 7,wide armrest)

Why?

Also why is this crazy woman allowed on a plane at all?

John Henry

BDNYC said...

Bushy browed? Dog whistle if I ever heard one.

John said...

Perhaps she needs a companion monkey.

John Henry

Tommy Duncan said...

Ann said: This goes to show that in the NYT, your mind may be spiraling wackily out of control and yet you maintain stiff discipline in the crucial center of political correctness.

When the gulags are completed that stiff discipline will help keep you on the right side of the razor wire.

SeanF said...

Ann Althouse: If you can't do something without a substance, don't do that thing.

So, Ann - no anesthetic, or just no surgery?

Earnest Prole said...

Juan Williams said more or less the same thing and was fired by NPR. He did not mention ethnicity, but he did use the M-word.

Michael said...

God, what a crybaby. Plus bulimia. Essential that that extra little "issue" was introduced. I once got off an airplane in D.C. on a milkrun flight to NYC. Back in the days when the pilots thought it a matter of honor to fly through the center of thunderstorms and to arrive within a minute of scheduled arrival times. Flew through a nightmare of a storm, hellish, and landed at what was then called National. The stewardess I was chatting with said the weather was even worse on the way to LaGuardia. Fine, I said. I walked off and took the train the rest of the way expecting to hear in NY that the plane had gone down . I had not . Pilots have adopted the more sensible approach to thunderstorms in this new era: they avoid them at all costs.

Michael said...

MadisonMan
First Class to Europe is more like four times the cost of Delta Comfort. 2,000 in the back if you are lucky versus 8,000 up front. I cannot justify that even if I can lay it off on a client. Domestically I always go for First because it is often less than twice the cost of coach. Makes all the difference. I wear noise cancelling headphones to drown out the incessant announcements on Delta.

Bay Area Guy said...

Stay away from all crazy liberal women. Don't even sleep with good-looking ones. They will eventually export their craziness to you.

Rick Turley said...

True story. I had the unfortunate experience of being stuck at Heathrow during the August 2006 liquid explosives scare. When I finally got a seat on American to get back to the US, they seated a young white woman with henna tattoos next to me. When I asked about them to make conversation, she said that she was just married in Morocco. American placed her on the flight as a courtesy. I asked where her husband was and she said he was flying back at a later date. Uh, oh.

You can judge me all you want but I did feel some anxiety every time she got up to use the facilities and I kept close watch on the tracking monitor they put in business class those days. I didn't really relax until it showed we had made it to the Canadian border as I figured we wouldn't get blown up over land when we had just flown over the ocean.

Caligula said...

"why is this crazy woman allowed on a plane at all?"

Commercial air travel makes us all at least a little crazy.

If crazy people were not allowed on planes, the airlines would all go bankrupt.

JLScott said...

Michael, depending on how long ago that was, it was probably more what ATC was willing to do rather than pilot bravado.

Darcy said...

I empathize with those who have had an (albeit irrational) scare on a flight since 9/11. I had one where I was sure I was sitting next to someone dangerous on a red eye from Denver to Detroit. I was paralyzed with fear and therefore would have been of no use to anyone else on the flight. Ugh. I still get ashamed thinking about how I handled my fears - my cowardice and my paranoia both - over what was likely just a middle eastern (Muslim - he had thrown his Quran on the seat next to me forcefully before he first sat down) man who was fearful of flying.

I remain in awe of the people on Flight 93.

Lucien said...

From the headline, I expected to read that the guy whipped out a MAGA hate or had pro-Trump texts on his phone. But no.

The subject doesn't seem to understand that there will never be another hijacking because the cockpit door will stay locked and closed. One would have to smuggle explosives on board and get to use them to blow the door. That's why airlines should give passengers switchblades when they board. Any terrorists can be mobbed and stabbed to death. (Just kidding, if there were switchblades distributed then some poor guy would be stabbed for whipping out a MAGA hat.)

Clyde said...

Problems of First World white people. (And I say that as one of the tribe.) Whatever that poor woman is doing for her mental illness, it isn't working.

Alex said...

Am I the only one concerned that the TSA agent needs to take half a Xanax before her shift?

Jupiter said...

"This goes to show that in the NYT, your mind may be spiraling wackily out of control and yet you maintain stiff discipline in the crucial center of political correctness."

Why, no, Althouse. She simply did not notice his ethnicity. You racist!

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Good informative or persuasive writing sets forth clearly in the first paragraph the major point to be made in the piece to follow.

Good fiction begins with imagery to captivate the reader. "It was a dark and stormy night...."

The referenced article seems out of place on the "Opinion" page.

But that is the way of writing these days.

Newspaper articles that I would begin as: "A fire on the 2400 block of Elm St. last evening caused major damage to a residence. There were no injuries or fatalities. Cause is to be determined."

Would now begin: "Imelda Garcia stood on the sidewalk in front of her home this morning. She gestured as she spoke of her childhood in the home, and later the beginning of her own family as a single mother."

mockturtle said...

It's a wonder that this fragile snowflake manages to survive from day to day. Was she brought up in an incubator?

mockturtle said...

Well, I guess a snowflake would melt in an incubator. How about a cooler?

Rocco said...

From the article:
"Then, contorting, he goes to another pocket and sets another phone facedown on his thigh. Two phones. It’s clear: We’re doomed."

Good thing she wasn't seated next to Hillary Clinton.

wildswan said...

What I struck me was the note at the bottom of the article which explained that this is one of series of articles on "Disabilities." S0 - there are other articles about other New Yorkers behaving in similar ways or - how would they be differently trivial. I want to not read the articles. I want to be above this curiosity - yet I feel myself drawn -just the way she felt she had to get off the plane.

So I did read another in the series. It was written by a 12 year-old girl with a serious, progressively disabling disease. She wants people to see the happiness, the lightheartedness the disabled feel or can feel. She put Miss Xanax to shame and me, too, in a way.

Here is what she said about her efforts to get a book published with a disabled heroine who has her own outlook.

"Mia Lee, my sassy, YouTube-loving heroine, differed too much from the convention of what a disabled kid is supposed to be like. There are very few stories about kids in wheelchairs, and there are even fewer with a disabled person who is cheerful and happy. Disability is always seen as a misfortune, and disabled characters are simply opportunities to demonstrate the kindness of the able-bodied protagonists.

For once, I want to see the disabled kids not in the hospital, but in the school cafeteria eating lunch with their friends. I wanted young readers to think of disabled kids not as miserable people to be pitied, but as people living normal lives in spite of their challenges. I want young readers to see disabled kids as friends, people to gossip with, to take selfies with and to go see movies with on the weekends."

Really, there is hope even for NYC.