I had a fabulous time at BlogHer12. Despite a few personal kinks, it was so much fun!
I’ll recap it all tomorrow, but first things first.
Unless you are living under a rock, or just completely ignore me (and, really, who could blame you?), you know I have a tremendous fear of flying – one that’s only intensified as I’ve gotten older. The plane crash made it somewhat worse, but it was there long before that.
My normal M.O. is to get really numb before I fly. Xanax and a Bloody Mary is what my doctor’s prescribed me in the past. Well, the Xanax, anway. I prescribed the Bloody Mary part.
Yesterday started out as one of the worst days ever.
It was Luca’s fourth Birthday, and I’d booked a noon flight so I could get home to celebrate with my big boy.
My cab ride to the airport was a nightmare. I was so carsick by the time we got there that I could barely walk or talk without the fear of puking everywhere (alright, alright, the hangover from 3 am karaoke may have made things a touch worse).
I stepped through the airport doors and into complete chaos.
Two security breaches had the entire terminal on lock-down and it looked more and more like I wouldn’t make it home to my birthday boy.
While checking in for my flight, I did something I rarely do…upgraded to a better seat (and, no, not in first class Meredith). My original seat was at the very back of the plane, but I wanted more room since I was feeling so bad. The $49 was worth every penny, if it meant I could breathe a little easier.
I joined the mob of people in line and waited for TSA to open back up. Still so sick, I was sitting on the floor throwing up in a Toys ‘r Us bag (I took the toys out first of course), because I didn’t want to lose my place in line.
It was unbearable, and I barely held it together. I’m shocked I didn’t beg someone to hold me and gently stroke my hair.
I finally got through security and ran to my gate.
When I reached the gate I realized the running had been for nothing, because United Airlines held the plane at the gate for EACH AND EVERY PASSENGER before taking off. No other way to put it, they were just awesome!
I approached my new seat, at the front of the plane.
Excuse me, I’m sorry, that’s me…
I said to the man in uniform sitting on my row, as I pointed to the empty middle seat.
“No problem!” he said, with a smile.
Also, sorry if I smell. I just ran across the airport. My pants sorta fell down, too.
Yes. These was, indeed, my opener.
Laughing, he said,”You don’t smell.”
I asked him if he was a pilot and he nodded.
OMG. I’m SO HAPPY to sit next to you. I hate flying! I’m gonna ask you so many questions about the noises and other stuff.
I then immediately thought to myself…
That poor, poor man, almost four hours sitting next to ME. He just may jump.
So, as to not be responsible for someone ending it all, I decided I’d just shut up and sit quietly. Or, maybe I’d just talk to the guy on my right…who actually did smell.
But, you know what this awesome man did?
He proceeded to explain to me every single thing about noises, and flying, and what was going to happen next and why, and all the wonderful things about planes that I didn’t know (planes are super smart, you guys), and anything else you could think of – FROM TAKE OFF TO LANDING.
We did not stop talking to each other the entire three hours and forty five minutes. Mostly about flying, but we drifted to other topics, too. Like his beautiful wife…who made his face light up every time he spoke about her.
I didn’t think one negative, weird, creepy, morbid, Allison-Thought the entire time I was on the flight.
I….I….I…wait for it….I didn’t even order anything to drink other than Coke. I haven’t done that on a flight since I was like three years old or something.
This awesome, class-act, devoted family man, and lifelong pilot, had just finished flying across the country, and was hitching a ride back to Houston.
I’m sure all he wanted to do was sleep.
Instead, he got stuck next to a girl who told him things like…
I just puked in a Toys ‘R Us bag in the security line.
And, who went on and on for twenty minutes about the injustices of the world, and then randomly broke into We Are The World.
Oh, oh! What’s your name? I talk about stuff on the internet and I really want to talk about the pilot who took away my fear of flying.
“Maurice Sanders,” he said.
And there you have it folks. My hero has a name and it’s Maurice.
So, Maurice, I just want to say thank you and tell you how much I appreciate YOU. And how I’m pretty convinced that I changed my seat at the last minute and wound up next to you for a weird, fate-y, kind of reason. I’ve never met someone who’s been so kind, classy, knowledgeable, gracious, and patient to a complete stranger in my entire life. You turned a so-far-awful day into an absolutely wonderful one. And, ahem, I hope United Airlines knows what an asset you are to their team.
On a final note, I tweeted about Maurice earlier today.
Had best flight of my life yesterday sitting next to
@united pilot Maurice Sanders. I AM NO LONGER AFRAID OF FLYING. (blog post to follow).
— Allison Zapata (@allisonzapata) August 6, 2012
I got so many positive replies, but this one really stood out to me…
I couldn’t agree more. And while it may not seem all that extraordinary to some, it meant so much to me and completely turned things around when I really needed them to be turned.
So, I’ve never asked this before, but if you have the time, I would love for you to share this. I’ll be your best friend and promise never to sit next to you on an airplane.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful week!
Update! You guys are so awesome for sharing my story, and it WORKED!!
@allisonzapata We’re sending your post & tweets to Maurice so he knows what a difference he made. We hope to see you on board again soon.
— United (@united) August 7, 2012