I love to read. I have gone without sleep telling myself, "just one more page.” Trust me, I do not look pretty with dark circles under my eyes! Because of my love of reading, I have missed planes while sitting at the departure gate, and one time I missed a landing.
I'd traveled to Austin, Texas to assist a client, and was on my return flight home. Hunkered into my First Class aisle seat, a perk of the frequent business traveler, I grabbed my book, a Jonathan Kellerman novel I believe, that I had tucked into my briefcase while boarding; I put my bag under the seat, buckled my seat belt, and buried my face in my book.
The plane taxied, and the flight attendant probably did the prerequisite safety lecture. I wasn't paying attention. I was in a suburb of Las Angeles eavesdropping on Dr. Alex Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis's conversation about the murder. Watching Milo open Alex's fridge to get himself an orange juice, I was a fly on the wall as I got deeper into the story.
Suddenly, I looked up because I felt the wheels touch down. I was amazed at how short a flight it seemed; I hadn’t even gotten a beverage. I looked around the cabin; everyone had their heads between their knees! I was perplexed.
I smiled sweetly at my neighbor across the aisle and asked him what he was doing. He looked at me with the whitest/wildest eyes I had ever seen. “We've just had an emergency landing!" he stuttered. Okay, I thought the ride was a little bumpy. But, an emergency landing? Really?
An engine had caught fire; maybe it was two engines, I don't remember. I learned the flight attendants had first done the “pilot has turned on the seat belt sign" thing and walked the aisles. Since my seatbelt was fastened, they hadn’t bothered me. Secretly, I believe they were book lovers too, and just assumed reading was how I calmed my nerves.
I was told they had done all the instructions on how to assume the crash position, including how to exit the plane in the event we did indeed crash. My aisle mate mentioned they were polite, professional, and remarkably calm. I cannot comment on this. I never heard a word of it. I was reading!