I have my usual routine of ignoring everything around me when I travel on an aeroplane. I have seen these non-events so many times now that they hardly register anymore.
Air hostesses acknowledge my presence. I find myself a seat and try to get comfortable. The cabin crew go through the customary security drill which they rush through as interestless eyes stare at them. And on and on. If you have ever travelled on an aeroplane more than once, you know the routine. You need to travel more than once though – you are too busy the first time to understand the futile complications of this travel.
Anyway, the whole experience of air travel is so mechanical, so mundane that any deviation is conspicuous. Well, during my last flight, one such deviation ruined my hour-long flight.
One of the regular tasks that a captain performs post-take-off is to switch off the “fasten seat belt” sign. He did switch off a sign this time too. However, it wasn’t the one I expected. He switched off the “No Smoking” sign. For a moment, I thought there must be a sane justification for this. But soon I realized the captain did do a mistake because everyone in the cabin crew behaved as if he has switched off the seat belt sign – they even announced, “The captain has switched off the Fasten seat belt sign”. I wanted to shout out loud, “Bloody he didn’t, he doesn’t know his switches”. That one small digression from the regular crushed my confidence in my captain.
You see, I have seen many movies and I know how many switches the pilots surround themselves with. So all I could think was if this guy can mistakenly press a switch he wasn’t supposed to at this point, what says he can’t do that again. Maybe he will switch off the engine next? And don’t tell me about stats and the in-built checks in aeroplanes against such human brain farts. That doesn’t calm my mind when I am thousands of kilometres up in the air.
Well, I just couldn’t trust anything the guy did after this misstep. I thought he spoke too loudly or too gently. Or both! He turned unnecessarily, too suddenly. At one point, I even thought he was flying us on the wrong road.
That one hour made me feel like a nosey passenger next to a crazy taxi driver. You can’t stay silent because you don’t trust him – but you don’t speak because you bloody don’t trust him.
Anyway, the captain didn’t press any wrong buttons after that. Or so I like to believe. After all, I did land. Thank you auto-pilot!