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Fade to Black

by Casey White
August 22, 2002

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Fade to Black_Casey White- Note from Casey: If summertime vacations bring a lack of focus, I suppose this entry in People Watch will show evidence of that, and may look more like random notes rather than a completed reflection. But that's vacation for you, and this was part of mine...

My choice for flying these days is sneakers. Not much to set off metal detectors, and fairly comfortable. I am amused by the businessman who came through the gauntlet after me, having to take off his cowboy boots and run them through the x-ray conveyor. I am awed by the sheer number of sun-tanned people on my flight who were in sandals with their bare toes showing. Am I unusual to be stub-toe-prone? Those plane seats are full of potential stubs, I think.

Waiting 3 hours for flight leg #2. You know those automated messages warning people on the moving sidewalk that their short journey is about to end? To hear them for 3 hours brings one from curiousity, through annoyance, to a catatonic state where you don't hear much anymore. A bored teenager has taken the moving sidewalk back and forth 20 times so far, and sometimes backwards, to make it appear he isn't moving. I get bored watching him.

A young father is teaching his 6 year old son how to play the card shape game, SET, on the floor behind me. He is teaching the wrong rules. Mom is ignoring them, and reading a book. The security guard asks them to move off the floor, as they need to use that spot to select the fortunate souls who get special person and luggage searches.

On the 737, I see something I haven't ever seen on a plane before: A family of older mom & dad, along with two older teen boys, take 4 seats that are all aisle seats in two rows next to each other. They are together, but separate. What is interesting to me is that the dad does not speak to any of his family members for the entire trip.

On the steady climb up, we nearly level off, but after experiencing some turbulence, the pilot begins another steep climb in a different trajectory. I look out from my window seat and see another large jet, no further than 400 feet away, and climbing toward and then above us, but in a different angle. I'm thinking this is too close to being a "close call."

Near me is another older teen of 19 or 20 who is traveling by himself. He is sporting all of the expensive store fashions, and he pulls out a portable DVD player and a set of headphones. He has a remote control for the DVD player, whose screen is about 4 in. x 6 in. The remote has about 40 buttons on it. He proceeds to watch "Casino," and holds the remote about 1 inch from the screen to fast forward past the FBI copyright notice.

I'm looking out the window. I love flying due West just after sunset. Above the clouds, you get this tremendous show of constantly changing and fading hues of red, orange, yellow, aqua, turquoise, and black. The SET boy is seated just in front of me. He has access to the plastic built-in shade on the window through which I am viewing this natural light show, and he shuts it completely. Thanks, Buddy.

The flight attendants come down the aisle with complimentary pretzels and drinks. They offer a bag of ice to SET boy, who has now developed a nose bleed. Coincidence - honest. The beverage service disrupts the DVD movie, which apparently wasn't very good, and it is replaced by "Black Hawk Down."

The family a few aisle rows up is still not talking, and in fact, no babies are crying (a rarity for my flights,) so I close my eyes and drift off to a mixture of fleeting thoughts - jumping from great moments experienced on my vacation, to tasks at work that await my return, to thoughts of terrorists on planes flown not so far from here. I pray a prayer for a continued safe flight, and then I fade to black.

Comments (2)

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Barnabas writes:
August 23, 2002
I don't know whether Casey White is a writer of fiction, but his gifts of observation and description indicate that he might be. What an evocative piece of writing!

Casey White from USA writes:
August 23, 2002
Son of Encouragement, indeed. Thanks, Barnabas. Everything written in each of my column submissions is true. I simply write down what I partially observe!

I also observe that your columns are of excellence, and more so!

- Casey

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Fade to Black
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