The plane was going to crash. That was the only thing on my mind, and I’m pretty sure it was the only thing on everyone else’s. There were sirens blaring, people screaming, and those little oxygen masks dropping out of the ceiling.
In a movie, this would have happened in the dead of night, in the middle of a thunderstorm. Life doesn’t always make it that dramatic. It was around noon, in nearly clear blue skies.
Those of you who have never been in a plane falling out of the heavens might think that your life flashes before your eyes. It doesn’t. My guess is because the plane doesn’t fall as quickly as you would think. Since you’re about 25,000 feet up, it can take up to fifteen minutes to finally hit the ground. During that time your mind flashes to what the stewardess told you in the beginning of the flight, how your seat can be used as a floatation device. You remember her pointing to the exits, even though you have no idea where they are anymore. And you draw up those pictures from that safety booklet you glanced at to help pass the time, the one that showed the different positions in which to brace yourself in the event of an emergency.
As the plane falls, you wonder which of those positions will work best. Looking at the other passengers doesn’t help. Each of them is doing something different, and at least one is staring out the window, hypnotized, as tufts of clouds rush past, turning the plane into a giant kaleidoscope. The person next to you gets sick and vomits. The guy in the next aisle, who proposed to his girlfriend an hour before to a round of applause, fights with her over an oxygen mask. And a baby behind you—no doubt clutched in his loving mother’s arms—wails like a banshee.
As these things are happening, your life doesn’t flash before your eyes. Like I said, you’re too busy trying to figure out how to save it.