wonko's Big East Coast Adventure, Part I

Steve and I woke up at the asscrack of dawn this morning, which is not something that happens often. Why did we do this silly thing? Fortune! Glory! Adventure! Excitement! But mostly because my boss told me to!

Steve kindly drove me to the airport, where I courageously braved the security checkpoint and boarded a plane to Chicago. The plan was to board another plane in Chicago and end up in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I will attend a class for the next week. As is His custom, however, God has once again punished me for having a plan.

I boarded the plane and was happily surprised to discover that I was seated in the very frontmost row of the coach cabin—the row with lots and lots and lots of leg room. I settled in for the flight, plunged into a book, and ignored the world. Eventually, they started an in-flight movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. It was free, so I tuned in. Not a bad movie, actually, although I kinda missed the ending.

At some point in the flight, the captain made an announcement asking if there was a medical doctor on board. This made everyone perk up in their seats and look around to see who was dying. I’m still not sure what was going on, but there was a doctor on board, paramedics met us at the gate, and someone went away in an ambulance. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Before today, I had fainted two times in my life. Once was in a health class in high school, where we were watching a gentleman give a lovely presentation, complete with graphic slides, demonstrating why beating up your wife and children is a Bad Thing. The slides themselves didn’t make me terribly squeamish, but they started me thinking about broken bones and how it would feel to have a bone broken very slowly, cracking and shattering gradually, the pain shooting through my every nerve…I felt the blood drain from my head, thought “Hey, this is weird,” and regained consciousness a moment later with my head on some guy’s lap and my girlfriend giving me a very, very strange look.

The second time, I had just finished watching From Dusk Till Dawn. I stood up and went to the bathroom. Midway through the peeing process, I felt the blood drain from my head and thought, “Hey, this is weird. It’d really suck if I fain…”. I heard some crashing noises, felt something hit me in the back, and woke up very confused on the floor of my bathroom with shards of broken glass on my chest. I had fallen backwards, knocked everything off the bathroom counter, and broken the floor-to-ceiling mirror on the bathroom door. By some incredible bit of luck, I didn’t have a single scratch on me, nor had I pissed myself. Still, that was twice. I wondered if maybe something was wrong.

Today, as the in-flight movie reached its sappy romantic climax, I felt the blood drain from my head. “Hey, this is weird,” I thought. I regained consciousness an uncertain amount of time later with my arms stretched out in front of me, hands clasped and resting on the tray table, and my head lolling to the left (luckily not yet on my neighbor’s shoulder). I was also dripping with sweat, even though the plane was nice and cool. I attempted to regain my composure. It didn’t look like either of my neighbors had noticed the spell, so I acted as if nothing had happened. Fifteen minutes later I realized that the book that had previously been sitting on the tray table was now on the floor, which meant I had knocked it there. Oops.

I’m still not sure what caused this or any of these fainting episodes. In every case, I was conscious enough of what was about to happen that I was able to take some deep breaths, make sure my knees weren’t locked, etc., but in each case, none of these things did any good. I don’t think this is just something that happens to people. Is it?

Anyway, I arrived in Chicago fully intact and feeling well, but found that my connecting flight to Raleigh had been canceled due to weather. This entailed much standing in of lines, after which I was treated to a whirlwind, white-knuckle tour of downtown Chicago by a shuttle driver who drove me to the wrong hotel (who knew there were two Radissons in Chicago?), from which point I took a cab all the way back to the right hotel (which was about five miles from the airport). Chicago is pretty and covered with snow, but dear God I will never, ever drive a car here. Never.