So much in this life depends on which side you’re on. I find this to be especially true when you’re inside an airplane.
I was on an airplane bound for Montreal and I couldn’t help but notice that only a hands breadth of metal separated me from the great outdoors.
On the inside of that thin wall we yawned, raised and lowered our food trays, and wrestled with big decisions. Coffee, or tea?
We tried to stretch our cramped legs and then glanced at our watches and discovered there were still three and a half hours left in the flight. When our television screens quit working we were annoyed.
Put us on the other side of that frost flecked window and how quickly one’s perspective would change. For one thing, it was 52 below outside and we’re going 600 miles an hour. That makes for an alarming wind chill.
Of course if you found yourself on the outside of the plane pretty much everything would be alarming. It would all be downwards from there.
There are two theories on falling. One is that it isn’t the fall that kills you, it’s the landing. The other is that when people fall from great heights they have a heart attack and would be dead before they hit the ground. I doubt the second theory is true.
After contemplating life on the other side, being in a warm plane with soft cushion seats and a couple flight attendants providing snacks and drinks suddenly seemed pretty decadent. As for having a heart attack as you plummet towards earth, we had an opportunity to test theory a couple days into our stay in Montreal.
Our hotel room was on the 19th floor. What it lacked in size it more than made up for with a glass window that extended from floor to ceiling. The view spiralled down to a busy intersection below leaving me feeling weak-kneed and a little nauseous.
Two days into our stay we were making our way skyward in the elevator. Just as the number 19 lit up and the elevator made that melodic soft ping noise which meant the door would soon open and set us softly on our floor, everything went frightfully awry. Instead of the door opening, the number 19 was suddenly replaced by a flashing F5 and the soft ping was drowned out by an alarm.
Downward we plunged with shocking speed. Our hair was practically shooting skyward just like in a cartoon. Darcy and I gaped at each other wide eyed. It happened so fast we were unable to muster up so much as an “I love you!” or a “Toodaloo darling!”
But as we hit the bottom floor — this is important — we did not have a heart attack. Instead we were spilled out into the lobby along with the human contents of the other five elevators. Everyone definitely looked surprised but none of them had a heart attack.
I always wondered what would happen if you were on the wrong side of the elevator door when a fire alarm went off. Now I know. As for being on the wrong side of the plane, I’m happy to leave that one to my imagination.
Shannon McKinnon is a Canadian humour columnist.