Your flight begins like any other. The plane takes off, climbs steadily to 30,000 feet and levels off. The pilot keys the intercom and in his dreary, dreamy monotone, begins to speak:
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 207 to New York. Flying time to LaGuardia is a little over three hours, so sit back and relax…
Your eyes snap open. What did he say? Is he jerking you around? Is there something wrong with the plane? What was that about “sit back and relax?” Why would he have to tell you that if the wings hadn’t just fallen off?
You look out the window and sure enough there aren’t any wings, just a bunch of buttons and sticks where the wings used to be. You let out a small whimper and frantically push the flight attendant button. She arrives in seconds – a perky little fella.
“No wings,” you say, in the calmest voice you can muster, nervously shrugging your shoulders. You shake your head and jab a thumb at the window and frown: “no wings.” You twirl back and forth in your seat a few times and say it again, “no wings.”
“I don’t understand –”
“– there ain’t no goddamned wings on this goddamned plane!” you shout. Tears fill your eyes.
“Sir, you’re in the first row. The wings are back there.”
You press your face against the window and look back along the airplane. Sure enough, wings.
“There’s only one,” you say, through clenched teeth.
“There’s another one on the other side.”
You calm down a bit and stare at the little TV in the bulkhead. After awhile the flight attendant comes on and starts jabbering about the weather in New York City. Why does she keep going on about New York City? It’s almost self-conscious, this jibber-jabber, like…like…
Is she jerking you around? You peer out the window and down at the ground, far below. Sure enough, New York City is completely gone.
You pound on the flight attendant button.
“It’s–” your chest is so constricted you can barely get a breath “–gone.”
“New York City, the whole city, the whole city is gone,” you say, babbling, really. You spin back and peer down at the ground. Nothing.
“I don’t understand, sir. What do you mean, ‘New York City is gone?’”
“I mean the whole goddamned city isn’t there!” you scream, pointing out the window. Several passengers look up from their pretzels in alarm.
“We’re flying over Iowa,” she says.
“Then how would you know what the weather is doing in New York City!” you shriek, and clench your teeth, your face turning a crimson shade of purple.
Ladies and gentlemen, the head steward coos from the front of the cabin, if you look out the left side of the aircraft, you’ll see the Hayden Prairie State preserve, the second-largest tallgrass prairie in the state of Iowa.
Well, isn’t that convenient, you think. Why is he jerking you around? Why would he want you to look out the window unless he was planning on sneaking up and shoving a needle into the back of your neck?
You look out the window. Sure enough, there’s the Hayden Prairie – ouch! Dammit!
You called it. They just stuck you with a needle, and now you’re falling to sleep. This flight crew is jerking you around, for sure.