Being Stuck

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.”

“Do what?”

“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.


Bo said…
In one article I read they reported that one woman DID have a panic attack and actually locked herself in one of the bathrooms for several hours. How locking oneself in an airplane bathroom might soothe a panic attack is beyond me, but they did eventually get her out. I wonder if these people can sue for wrongful entrapment or something. Not that I want people to get all litigious or anything.
Anonymous said…
Not asthmatic, do have some food allergies but the thought of being stuck anywhere for that long makes me nuts! I'm with you--probably wouldn't even have left for the airport in that snowstorm, knowing at best it would mean a long wait in the airport. Did that once when I was traveling to Paris for business and was too embarrassed to let my co-worker know I wanted to cancel. Car service didn't show up, caught a cab and slipped and slid all the way to JFK..that's a good sign right there to turn around! Sat on the plane forever, got de-iced, sat some more and finally took off. Not fun.
Lynn Barry said…
God I hear ya loud and clear. My son Pat takes Jet Blue all the time and he is almost always delayed etc...but that episode made me sweat and feel sick too. do you think it is the lack of control? I have never figured out how my brother can explore caves and literally slide through cracks with little room between the rock and himself and I can barely tolerate being in a small room for long.
Good blog. I can relate.
Allergic Girl® said…
Bo--horrible, poor woman. panic doesn't follow logic though; she probably just wanted to get "out" but could only get "in"!

i would sue, not that i'm overly litigious but talk about mental anguish for no good reason other than poor communication!? jetblue better make some changes and fast.

Anon--i had that once too on a flight to paris as well, they kept us on the ground for a few hours, in a snowstorm, and i was going to get off the flight but the steward gave me a song and dance about how they'd have to get my luggage and that would cause further delays so i just stayed on and we got to paris, eventually.

Lynn--does your brother do that for fun!? that is amazing. i'd rather read a good book but then we all have different ways we relax. ;-)
Lynn Barry said…
Yes, my brother explores caves, sleeps out under the stars, climbs mountains, rides a motorcycle...ALL FOR FUN! I'm with you, I sit at the computer for fun. HUGS

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