for emergency use only

Being six feet tall, whenever the occasion arises in which I must fly on a plane, I set an alarm for 24 hours before boarding so I can sign in online and get the first picks at seating.

Being six feet tall, there is only one chair on that entire plane that I focus, lock, and hone in on aquiring: 11A. The emergency exit window seat … with twice as much leg room.

As I write this, my long legs are quite comfortably stretched out to maximum capacity in front of me, without even coming close to reaching that pesky metal luggage bar beneath my frontward companion’s seat/emergency flotation device. You know, it’s really the little things that make life so much more enjoyable.

However, do not be fooled: there is one major pitfall to be seated in 11A. While the heavenly view of the clouds outside the smudged glass is often pleasant, the window besides that view belongs to the emergency exit door.

A door. In a plane. In case you’d forgotten, doors open. And as limited as my aviary knowledge may be, I’m fairly sure that rushing at 200+ MPH in the air is not the ideal place for doors to be swinging open and shut. This would cause mass panic and hysteria, with the likelihood of some small farmtown below to experience the first-ever human rainfall.

Now that is a very interesting mental image. What would you say if you were whisked out of your cushy airplane seat, forgot to grab your floatations device or read that airline safety manual whatsoever, and were now plummeting down into what seemed to be a large field of cornstalks? What would you be saying to yourself at that moment? Would you converse with the fellow plummeters around you? Would you try to do backflips and somersaults in the air, entertaining the flocks of sheep awkwardly staring up at you?

Anyway, this emergency exit door is essentially nothing but a big, red temptation. The entire flight, I find myself gazing haphazardly at the “pull/jale” lever, double and triple checking the multilingual picture instructions above to make sure I’d get it right. After all, the entire airplane is counting on me. I’d hate to get to such a climactic moment of my life, only to end up as a story on failblog days later.

But regardless of my opening-a-door-under-extreme-pressure abilities, my inner childlike itch to pull that red handlebar just for kicks and giggles was knawing on my brain more and more by the minute. I mean, there’s no way that if I pulled that lever, the door would actually open just like the Spanish man in the instruction pictorials said it would… right? There’s just no way the airlines staff would give me that much power over the future outcome of this flight. I mean, I could just threaten to open it and make the plane fly to Timbucktu or Iceland if I really wanted.

Kjirsten Johnson, future airplane hijacker. Kjirsten “hijacker” Johnson. Kinda has a nice ring to it.

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