Of course, I had my trusty Blackberry with me, and amongst the vacationing and waiting for the next flight I was also juggling work e-mails and my social media activities, as any 21st Century multitasker would do.
Life was flying by as it always was, and then it was time to get on the plane.
After a fairly orderly (by commercial airline standards) boarding process we strapped on our seat belts and pulled out our reading materials.
We taxied to the main runway as I started to page through a Newsweek magazine. Then, it was our turn to take off, and the engines cranked up. I usually stop what I’m doing at this point but this time I was pretty absorbed in my reading.
Then, something different happened.
At about 120 miles an hour, the pilot decided to abort the takeoff. He slammed on the brakes. What followed was the longest 10 seconds of my life.
1 Second – “Uh oh, something’s wrong”
2 Seconds – “We’re stopping – why?”
3 Seconds – “He’s avoiding something”
4 Seconds – “Gosh, I hope he doesn’t hit something”
5 Seconds– “I should brace for impact – do I put my head down?”
6 – 7 Seconds – [life flashes before my eyes]
8 Seconds– “Please don’t hit anything”
9 Seconds – “Let’s get off the runway!”
10 Seconds – [exhales deeply as the plane slows down enough to exit the runway]
Turns out, the pilot got a airspeed indicator malfunction light just as he hit 120 MPH, and made the proper decision to abort the takeoff.
What was amazing was how it all seemed to happen in slow motion, and how I seemed to be able to run so many thoughts (and deep ones to boot) through my head.
It was one of those little life wake-up calls that couldn’t have come at a better time. In 10 seconds I was able to take stock of where I was, what I have done before, and what I want to do in the future. Mainly because I was darn happy to have a future.
I wondered why I couldn’t just take 10 seconds and do this self assessment when I needed to without the prompting of an event like this. That’s all – 10 seconds. Every now and then when the world is spinning a bit too fast, or the multitasking is getting a little out of hand.
10 Seconds. Without the dramatics. Just the thinking.
I think I’ll give that a try next time.
Postscript: After we got off this plane, the airline arranged another plane to take us to Portland. 2 1/2 hours later, we pulled away from the gate on this new plane. As the engines fired up, I kid you not, the lights in the cabin began to flicker and strobe, like we were in the middle of some kind of “Twilight Zone” episode. They tried to fix this problem by pulling back to the gate and restarting the plane, but alas, this plane was also not going to take us to Portland. Finally, on the third try on a third plane, and 5 hours after we were originally supposed to take off, we were on our way to Portland.
Isn’t traveling fun? 🙂