I’m a white knuckle-flyer. I’ve traveled often on airplanes, but have always given pause to the fact that this large, heavy mode of transportation is carrying me somewhere by air...very high.

“Dixie, we need to go to our seats now,” my husband Dennis said on a recent trip, “come out of the cockpit.”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” I responded, continuing my self-appointed work.

“So, do you drink heavily, take drugs or have any marital problems?” I question the pilot.

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The whole flying thing has issues. You’re getting on a plane that will be traveling at 550 mph, 35,000 feet in the air...with assorted people and their luggage from various places.

I mention the luggage only because I know my own could cause a hernia for an Olympic weightlifter. Multiply that fact by how many people are on the plane and wow, that’s going to be a lot of baggage! I know the woman in 6F is the kind that would’ve packed 15 pairs of shoes.

I’m not an engineer, and I don’t pretend to understand the ability of a metal cylinder to travel through the air at a rapid rate of speed and get to its destination, but I’d have to say that the whole thing defies logic.

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My neurosis is facilitated by the airlines themselves. They set you up for disaster from the beginning. What is the first thing they tell you, or show you a video about, upon boarding the aircraft? How to handle an in-air trauma or water crash!

Airline fight attendants go through several emergency situations that might/could happen when flying. They robotically show the oxygen mask coming out of the ceiling to help you...but please affix your own, before you help the traveling young person next to you. Well that’s comforting. Most can see themselves saying, “Hey kid, you’re on your own!”

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Airplane travel is sophisticated now. You can have a cocktail, watch a movie, enjoy your computer...you can do just about anything while flying.

But what about traveling when you don’t have a clue abut the person operating the said mode of transportation? My husband always makes fun of me because I can’t sleep on airplanes. I always tell him I have to watch the driver.

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You used to get cool meals while traveling. You got fed! They would serve you something exciting, maybe beef or chicken, all presented in a Styrofoam container, with bread and maybe a cookie as well.

Eating took the edge off my flying worries. If I were up at a crazy height, at least I’d have a last meal that would keep me busy. That was until I was done and could re-focus and again worry about the pilot and his flying.

In our rough economic times, meals just aren’t provided anymore. They give you abbreviated services. What you get would be poor fare from a vending machine. People are bringing their own food on board.

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On several trips, I have been unfortunate in that I am in the middle seat, between a very large man or woman, and they have a snoring, passing gas, personal hygiene or large body issue that invades my ‘space’. There’s “Dixie in the middle”...it really should be a sitcom.

“Sir...sir,” I begin nicely, tapping the portly gentleman who has half of his person spilling over into my space. “Would you consider turning to the right, so I can utilize my tray table to eat the five peanuts allotted me.”

He responds by saying something derogatory about my mother wearing army boots.

I get more aggressive. “I was making the point that you have the left half of your body in my seat. And the bottom line here is, I want it to move.”

“So you have an issue with fat people,” he questions angrily.

“No, I really don’t, I like fat people.”

“Name one.”

“Uh...Oprah,” I tried to search my mind for people who fit within the ‘rounder’ standard. “Never mind, she was heavy and then got skinny again...got heavier and then I’m thinking she’s heading toward thin again.”

“So, your point is what?” he asks, slamming a sub sandwich that he’d intelligently purchased before boarding the airplane.

“I have no point,” I responded, his left arm rearranging my kidneys. “ I think this is a great flight. Hey, by the way, can I have your leftover crust?”