Wish You Were Here

---current New Yorker


  1. Einstein never took planes. He hitch-hiked where ever he went. He told me so himself. We were on an on-ramp on I95 just outside of Wisconsin Dells. He said,

    "I never take planes. Say, do you have a spare doughnut?"

    I liked the guy immediately.

  2. Okjimm is here. Now I know I love this place. I liked the guy immediately.

  3. Amazing Einstein still could eat doughnuts. I risk one and heartburn has me crumpled up in a corner within half an hour. Maybe it's the airplanes...

  4. Flying is the great American occupation

    One squeezes all two hundred pounds of himself (if he is a big guy, or an especially big woman) into his seat, straps up, and smiles back at the reassuring flight attendant.

    I once sat next to the emergency exit. Considering the high honor and responsibility of finding myself there, squeezed in against the curved wall of the plane, I studied the latches, carefully read the instructions, tapped on the hollow door, and took my responsibility most seriously.

    After all, imagine, the plane is in flames, people are screaming, and it is up to me open that door.

    The guy sitting next to me, a stranger, looked at me as if I were crazy. Soon the people at nearby seats began to stare too. Even the flight attendant, an attractive woman, began to suspiciously glance at me. An old pro, she knew how to do it without being invasive or obvious.

    But I knew she was looking.

    I wanted to try the handle, just give it a little nudge and a squeeze, to familiarize myself with this vital instrument. So, in a contortionist's posture - after all I was wedged tightly into my spot, - I managed to clasp the handle. And held it most delicately, aware of what might happen.

    Then everyone began to stare at me. In this day and age, cloaked with a fear of terrorism, I could suddenly fling that door open and don my head scarf. Or perhaps I was just a garden variety nut, or a well meaning moron who could accidentally bring disaster to us all. Or at the very least delay the flight of our airplane.

    The air was tense. I was giddy with the sudden attention and power and focus I had received. Now my neighbor stared openly down upon me as if ready to immediately pounce. We were all good citizens here. Ready to act. Knowing the worst could happen. We all knew we live in a dangerous age.

    Delicately, gingerly, I let go of my grip on the handle, raising my hand up as if I were dropping a weapon, a handgun perhaps, to show everyone there I seriously grasped the depth of my responsibility, and would not treat it lightly. That I too, having knocked on the wall, felt the handle, studied the instructions, was prepared for an emergency. All I needed now was the Captain’s orders.

    And, yes, I hoped for them. Because I would be a hero! Thirty thousand feet in the air I would lead all my fellow passengers out of the door. What a triumph! What glory!

    Now what would Einstein have done if he had sat next to the emergency door?