My wife and I were seated in the exit rows on a 737 in the second leg of our trip - Miami to Mexico City.
737s have an annoying "feature" in the exit rows - the arm rests aren't real arm rests, but are solid block of metal containing your meal tray. Typically not a big deal, but I have massive thighs and felt a little pinched. Let's just say I was snug as a bug in a rug, provided bugs in rugs are vulnerable to blood clots.
We'd been in the air for about 2 hours. Since the flight was about 2.5 hours, it was amusing to me when the flight attendant came over the speaker and said "we were told we should review evacuation procedures with you." She told us about seat belts, and exit rows. I had a vague memory of them not doing it when we got on board, so I chalked it up to an in-flight checklist they somehow screwed up.
Pretty funny, though, them telling us about seatbelts this late in the flight.
This is obviously not necessary.
That's when they told us about crash positions.
Amusement metamorphosed into a cold trickle of fear in the back of my mind.
What's going on?
Crash positions are NOT part of my flying experience.
It has to be an emergency broadcast system sort of test. Can flight attendants do their jobs?
I looked around in confusion. Faces reflected confusion and fear. What was happening?
The captain explains the situation. The flaps are frozen in place (down) and we can't land with them. Flaps give a plane extra lift, and allows it to land at a much slower speed than without flaps. What we were going to do was basically like a person jumping out of a car at 15 mph. Yes, you can do it unhurt with some training. If I were to try it, I'd break both legs and probably eat a half pound of gravel. But we've got pilots. They've trained for this sort of thing. So I'm not going to be worried.
The flight attendant walks up.
He shows us how to open the emergency doors we sit beside to get extra legroom.
Suddenly the full burden of the responsibilities of Exit Row Passenger become clear.
What if I can't open this door? It would be just like me to break my wrist while opening the door, and somehow getting it jammed shut.
My alarm mounts.
"But look outside first. If you see fire outside the door, do not open it!"
My alarm remounts.
Fire? Now we have to make judgement calls? I'M A PASSENGER!
***flashback to right before flight, waiting to board***
CNN is playing its usual garbage; the only reason I'm watching it is because I'm addicted to staring at light emitting boxes.
They're doing a piece on how a spider walked all over the Pope and he didn't notice it, and it was all caught on film! Ha ha ha.
I can't resist being a boorish prick in front of a whole bunch of strangers, so I crack a few pope jokes in poor taste.
Me, not quite so proud as I would have thought. Didn't get a single laugh.
Certainty in my atheism is my only salve.
*** end of flashback ***
Man, if the Catholics are right, I'm in big trouble.
My wife and I make eye contact, lock hands, and kiss. Calmness floods me. If we're crashing now, I'm happy it's with her.
we get closer to the runway, and we all assume crash positions. I've always considered myself to be inflexible, but boy, was I able to stretch in this situation. I probably injured myself trying to prevent injury. I turn my head to look out the window. We are going fast. We touch ground in what feels like a normal landing, except for the speed. It feels like the pilot is standing on the brakes; we're bleeding speed fast. I clap a couple of times because I think we've made it. (yes, I'm that guy who jinxes the whole flight. I've ruined more Michigan State football games in the third quarter by saying "cheers to another victory!" than I can count)
Seconds go by and the plane bleeds speed down to normal levels. We come to a stop, and the plane erupts with applause. Racing across the tarmac are fire engines and ambulances, lights flashing.
We've made it.
60 seconds prior, I was wishing I would live.
Now, I'm wishing that we get to use the slide. I've always wanted to use the slide.
We're towed into the gate, with no slide.
Thus begins a 9 day trip that takes us from Mexico City, through Oaxaca, and into Puebla, where we honeymooned 11 months ago.
The camera was stowed for the flight out (who thought I'd need it??!) but we took plenty of pictures of stuff.
More to come on Monday.