Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Surviving the Flu Season...

Last night my husband and I were awakened at exactly 2:37am by the miserable whimpering of our feverish six year old. It was then that I realized what those poor actors on “Lost” must feel like as they’re relentlessly dragged back and forth to that ill-fated island after having already narrowly escaped with their lives. Unfortunately I’m not pulling in a big fat paycheck and enjoying luxury accommodations at the Hawaiian Four Seasons to soothe my pain. Despite sincere compassion for my sweet little boy, I couldn’t shake the narrative script running through my head, which sounded a bit like the captain of a doomed flight to Déjà vu. It went something like this:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to thank you for flying Little American Germ Buckets, and welcome you to the never ending flight of the flu season. You may as well sit back and relax because your life is about to come to an excruciating halt, and your to-do list as well as any progress you’ve made at starting an exercise routine will just have to wait. I assure you, there are no premium seats on this flight.

Please stow all your good pillows and expensive bedding in an overhead compartment, otherwise they’re sure to be damaged by flying phlegm and related debris. We also ask that you turn off all electronic devices until such time as it is necessary to research any strange rashes and other unsavory side effects resulting from the various medications your little travelers will be taking. During this flight, we will not be handing out any sleeping supplies, because while I hate to point out the obvious, we all know that you won’t be needing them where we’re headed. If necessary, your seat cushions can be used as vomit protection devices or as something to beat your head against during the mind-numbing in-flight entertainment marathon starring the ever-chirpy Dora the Explorer and those perky Little Einsteins.

On this trip, you’ll have only two options for your in-flight beverage service: Pedialyte and a steady flow of caffeine in all its essential forms. Folding trays and seat backs should remain in their upright positions throughout the flight, because let’s face it – it’s your best chance of getting the puke into the double-bagged garbage bins. We’d like to ask those who still have a fever to sit toward the rear of the cabin —not to be confused with the “angry” rear of your infant after a heavy dose of antibiotic. Those passengers will be given special face masks with a steady flow of oxygen to be used before, during and after the diaper changing portion of the flight. Speaking of masks, I think it’s safe to say that you can totally disregard putting on your own protective masks before any minors seated with you, because we all know you’ll be taking this same flight on your own in about a week.

In the case of an emergency landing at a hospital or doctors office, passengers can purchase a special survival kit including several bottles of hand sanitizer to help avoid the myriad other unwanted maladies waiting for you in all medical lobbies, and a brand new package of “Fake Barf” to be placed just beyond your seating area to discourage other patients from trying to play with your children.

I would like to remind you that you are not allowed to tamper with or disable lavatory smoke detectors, unless you can’t take the cabin pressure and are forced to return to the smoking habit you successfully gave up ten years ago for your health. Emergency exiting is not an option regardless of how unhinged you may feel, and we do have US Marshalls on board to ensure no one escapes the aircraft mid-flight.

(3-5 maddening days later…)
Good news. We’re now beginning our descent and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing this flight, even if you didn’t have a choice… wait…I’m sorry, this just in— apparently we’re experiencing technical difficulties in the form of five full snow days ahead. I realize that your children are feeling better and have untold levels of cabin fever, your house is in shambles, your pantries are bare and the piles of laundry are starting to look like furniture, but it looks like you’ll have to ignore all that and figure out how you’re going to keep the lil’ buggers entertained for the foreseeable future. Our flight attendants will be coming through the cabin shortly to provide alcohol and extra large boxes of Kleenex. Thank you and we sincerely hope you don’t get “Lost” again.