It used to be one of my bigger fears: being stuck in dead-stopped traffic, in the summer, without a/c.
And then it happened.
This summer, Phil and I were heading south on the FDR when we came to a stop, a dead stop. We turned on 1010 and heard there was a tractor-trailer backed up on the on-ramp by Gracie Mansion . About 20 blocks down. It was early afternoon. The car had no a/c. No air, nothing. Phil put the car in park and settled in for a wait.
What? This is it? We’re just going to sit here? I could see a shady tree a few yards away, over the service road. That’s where I wanted to be, not in a hot car.
We sat for a minute or two before I blurted out, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Stay here. In the heat, in this car. Not moving. I hope you don’t mind but I want to get out and sit under that tree. Or catch a cab and meet you at home.”
He shrugged, resigned. It was too hot to do anything else. I explained further, I didn’t want him to think I was abandoning him.
“This is my worst nightmare”, I explained, “being stuck in a hot car on a hot day in traffic not moving. Doesn’t this get you nuts?”
He was rational: “I drive in traffic a lot, [he commutes to work 2 hours a day, in Jersey], I just accept it, there’s not much else you can do.”
As I was considering the concept of acceptance, the cars started to move. And before I knew it we were zipping down the FDR on the way to my apartment, where there was plenty of a/c.
“See? You survived. You conquered your worst nightmare.” He said. And he was right, I did. I think having him with me was very helpful but yeah, my worst nightmare was over.
Until I saw this news item this morning.
I feel heartsick for these people and outraged at Jetblue . All the more because that could be me next Thursday on my way to Miami. Jetblue, what the hell were you thinking not letting these poor people off the damn plane! I’m telling you now, if there’s even a threat of a snowstorm, I’ll take a flight the next damn day. Geez.
You may be wondering what a fear of being in hot, enclosed places, or in the case of the Jetblue flight, hot, enclosed places whilst a snowstorm rages on the tarmac, has to do with food allergies and I’m wondering that a bit myself.
I think it has more to do with panic. For many with asthma, there is a strong correlative with the propensity to panic. Not being able to breathe for days on end from a pernicious asthma attack does that. Food allergies, the possibility or the reality of a food making you sick, or getting sick, is troubling as well.
I think this post has to do with panic and with advocating for your needs. And learning how to do that. And when to do that. And when it’s better to accept what you can’t control [without sounding too 12-steppy, not that there’s anything wrong with that].
-Staying in a restaurant after the Chef says he didn’t know marzipan was made out of almonds? That’s a NO; leave right away.
-Doing the CLOSED MRI even though you really don’t want to, but meditating through it [as I did last Friday] that gets a YES; accept and move on.
-Being forced to stay on airplane for HOURS during a snowstorm? Being disallowed to disembark? After calling the port authority, Jetblue, the transit authority and anyone else you can think of who could get you off that damn flight, hmm I think this one involves invoking a third answer: always bring travel snacks and an emergency Xanax pill. Always.