A cricket at 30,000 feet.
On a flight to Milwaukee last night, on a plane that could have fathered a Cessna. Not by much, though. I would challenge that paternity suit.
I had to duck into the plane to find my seat. Once I found it, it was easier to simply back up into my row and fall into my seat than try to gently sit down as one would on a fully mature plane. The challenge being that there was simply no room for my legs. It seems the plane could care less for my head or my legs, only my torso seemed welcomed to join the revelers in Milwaukee.
Having lost my round of Twister, I began to unfold myself and my attention went to the flight attendant who appeared quite busy. She was using a small nail file to cut into this empty plastic jug of water. She appeared quite dedicated to the task and happy to ignore the passengers as they climbed over each other to fit into their cubbies . . . Sometimes in life you can be curious, stop and ask questions, other times you figure “let humanity do its thing”. I chose the latter and left the flight attendant to her nail file and plastic jug.
Moments after the plane took off she began her ritualistic procession down the aisle seeking to satiate the thirst of compacted passengers and make them feel appreciated with a small taste of ale on a count of the fact that the dead-beat father of the Cessna was delayed an hour AND their is no wi-fi. Did I mention there was no wi-fi? The last vestiges of civilization cast aside in order to save money (and because who goes to Milwaukee on a Friday night, no less!? “These people must have no loved ones. Cut the internet! We can use the left over gas to come back through NY and stay the night!”)
Her distribution of hemlock appeared welcome by the sardine-like crowds on the plane. A few passengers are even overheard rethinking their Twitter tirade of complaints after catching sight of her magic airline cart of swill. It doesn’t dawn on them that either way she wins, because THERE IS NO WI-FI, IDIOT! By the time we land your tweets will just go into your queue and you won’t even know how to retrieve and resend!! So, we sit back, captives, in this plane which appears more and more like a flying UberXL. We boarded and a massive slingshot has done the rest.
Then, half way down the aisle something happens. You can hear her yelp and something pops. Me and my tiny school of fish turn to look at her as she is holding the plastic water jug from earlier. She is looking for the lid. No, she’s looking into the jug. Then the floor. Then she yelps again. . . “What?!!” Could it be that I’m on a plane (flying UberXL) with a flight attendant who’s on her last bag of hallucinogenic honey roasted peanuts?? (I hate honey roasted peanuts on planes. I almost prefer they just say “I have nothing for you to snack on, asshole!” and just walk on to the next person)
I exchange glances with my fellow fishies and like heads in a tennis match we go back to her, to each other. Back to her. To each other. (Quick aside, I think tennis courts should be twice as long in order to make it more challenging and less burdensome on the neck). And now she is holding two small plastic cups. She is pressing them together. She appears to have captured something. . . I don’t see anything. She on the other hand is fixated. Pressing the two cups together with a fastidious commitment, you can see the cups give a bit under the pressure of her 20 years of flight attendant service to the people of the sky. This lady has forearm arm strength. You want her on that wall! You need her on that wall! . . . I digress. . .
She walks by me toward the front of the plane looking intently at her invisible captive. Perhaps a small pixie? (I’ve always believed) As she walks by, the gentlemen across the row looks at me. We both laugh. I, mostly going along with him because he seems to know something I don’t, . . . Ok, fuck this. Finally I can’t fake it anymore. . . I ask, “what is it?” At this point hoping I’m not the only one NOT on opioids (Because, you know it’s a thing, right?)
From behind his big Texas mustache and his big grin, he says, “It’s a grasshopper!” I leave his face of southern hospitality and gaze up at her and she is shaking little Jiminy Cricket back into the big plastic water jug. . . I swing back to my new friend and the unknown, but true, last survivor of The Alamo. He says with the same expression, hand gesture and all, “I would just dip in salt and eat it!” Making the gulping sound. He follows with, “Protein!” I nod in agreement . . . (It’s what you’re suppose to do when face-to-face with Wild Bill). I smile back at him and wonder “Why are opioids such the in-thing?”
I look at the flight attendant and she seems happy. I offer a brief comment to her as I catch her eye. “I don’t suppose you are going to just open the window and let him out are you?” . . . She smiles back at me like a stranger would to a child eating dirt on the playground . . . “Glad he’s not mine”
Why do I tell you all this? (Besides the fact that if i don’t write this down, I’ll realize that I have in fact been turned into a sardine and I am currently off to market) I tell you this because it was such an out of body experience. As a witness to humanity. At a time when we are surrounded by chaos, calamity and INhumanity, there are moments, clues, that demonstrate that WE can pick and choose what we care about AND, most importantly, whether we take action. The people flocking to help in the aftermath of the recent hurricanes across South Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. The earthquake in Mexico. Just a few examples, but there are countless more every month. We have the opportunity and compassion to say “I can do something” and that little decision (or big decision) makes a difference.
This flight attendant decided to save a grasshopper. It’s not a starving family or displaced child. But, it means something to her, to get it off the plane alive and back into a better habitat. It will likely bring her great satisfaction.
What do we hesitate to do for others that might demonstrate compassion? And with it the satisfaction knowing we did something good. By this, I don’t mean to suggest you trap something between two plastic cups and set it free 800 miles away. I mean, don’t hesitate to possibly look like a fool, at first, in order to do something that ultimately demonstrates the compassion that we all, in our hearts, want deeply to believe still exists across our nation. A compassion that we desire, and have faith in, will deliver us out of these crazy times and back to a place where saving a cricket wouldn’t even register to anyone who happens to witness it while packed in a small plane bound to Milwaukee. . .
That’s it. . .