Saturday, April 21, 2007

Plane down

I am a bad person.

I was working out at the gym this afternoon. I was on a treadmill, going nowhere, but running just the same. I looked up to the television monitors to see the CNN newsflash that one of the Blue Angels had crashed. My first response, which I hope nobody at the gym saw, was to clap. I got a big grin on my face and I clapped about four times. Finally! One of those terrorizing blue airplanes -- the ones that blast air pollution and noise pollution all over the skies of San Francisco in October during Fleet Week -- had crashed.

I had always known it would happen. I secretly hoped that it would just happen in San Francisco, taking down the Bay Bridge. But South Carolina seemed like a good place for it, too. Just another air show gone awry. I could imagine a bunch of horrified bystanders who had just seen six aircraft fly to the east, their eyes darting all over the sky as the aircraft returned to the airport minus one, a giant cloud of smoke coloring the sky black. A great way to show those people that a bunch of airplanes flying in formation, and making a lot of noise, is just the stupidest thing on the planet! It’s even worse than a NASCAR race!

I’ve never understood air shows. They seem like the biggest waste of fuel to me. A gaggle of people looking up at airplanes. Sure, airplanes are cool: they are gigantic metal tubes that somehow seem to get off the ground and fly around in outer space. When you’re on a plane, you don’t usually have a sense of the speed you’re traveling. In days gone by, you felt a little special in a plane. Above the fray. Nowadays on a plane, you are sitting between the fray.

An airplane flying from one place to another makes sense to me. A plane taking off in Wichita should get those people the hell out of Wichita, safely landing them in Atlanta. An airplane taking off and flying around in circles and releasing purple smoke while Eye of the Tiger blares over the loudspeakers surrounded by people eating hot dogs and elephant ears standing next to the landing strip’s runways makes no sense at all. No sense!

I was terribly embarrassed for myself after I clapped. I sheepishly glanced around at the other gymbots who were treadmilling next to me, at the stair climbers climbing in place, at the elliptical users busy elipticizing and going nowhere. Nobody seemed to notice me. If they did, they had decided I was indeed a bad person and they shouldn’t look at me. Maybe they had better things to look at anyway. I was kind of gross and sweaty, and I’m sure some of the muscle boys around me were looking much fresher.

I have a conscience. It only took me two seconds after my initial response to realize it was inappropriate. I didn’t really feel elated. I felt bad, because a plane crash likely meant someone had been killed. Perhaps many. It meant some houses had burned to the ground. It meant thousands of onlookers would never be able to get on a plane again without heavy doses of Ativan. It meant my tax dollars, which had already been wasted on the Blue Angels, would be further squandered investigating and retooling. And it meant I might not have anything to complain about come next October, when the Blue Angels aren’t terrorizing the residents of San Francisco once again.

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