Drinkin' and Flyin' (and Sanity in Seattle)

I feel sorry for people that get on an airplane and fall asleep. When the engines quit running or there’s a mid-air collision, they’ll miss all the excitement.

OK, I don’t fly well. It’s the ‘height’ issue. Since I fly frequently anyway, I’ve tried various methods to overcome my phobia. I tried hypnotism a couple of times. Didn’t help. Reading on the plane? Who can concentrate when a wing is about to break off?

My wife holds my hand when we take off. I thought it was to comfort me. Turns out, she thinks it’s amusing that my hands get all sweaty.

Drinking helps.

On my first flight to Europe many years ago, a pharmacist friend gave me two Xanax tablets. He said, “Take one of these four hours before your flight. When you get to the airport, take the other with a drink of something.” For my ‘something’, I chose Jack and diet (Jack Daniels and Diet Coke). And let’s make that a double.

I woke up somewhere over Iceland.

Since then, I’ve come to understand that just a drink, maybe two, works just fine for calming my nerves. Best done before takeoff, but an in-flight toddy works, too.

Side note: people are under the impression you can’t take booze on a plane. I do it all the time. It simply has to be in plastic bottles of less than 3.4 ounces and placed the same quart-sized baggie with all your other liquids. I use ‘airline bottles’ I’ve saved. The same ones you sneak into the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium. (He did not just say that!) Yes, you do have to pull that baggie out of your carry-on while going through security, but I’ve never had a single objection from security. Now, where were we?

We were in the Atlanta airport recently and I ordered a Jack and diet. Make it a double.

Now, in most bars in America – including airport bars – doubling up is about $3 more. Not so at Hartsfield-Jackson. And my server had apparently seen enough rage to give me a heads-up.

“Just so you know, a drink is $9; a double is going to be $18. Didn’t want you to have sticker shock.”

Wha-what??? I was under the impression that prices at Atlanta’s airport had to be somewhat in line with street prices. What bar charges $18 for drink, even if it is a double? I canceled the drink and washed down my burrito with water.

Then I put my mad, wicked, ninja math skills to work.

A standard 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniels is roughly $25 in your local package store. 750 ml is approximately 25 ounces, or in bar-speak, 16 shots. At the price that restaurant was charging, this restaurant values that bottle of Jack at $153!

The Hartsfield-Jackson word of the day, kids, is “gouging”. Let’s say it together.

The first leg of our flight was harrowing. Nothing happened, but I did it completely sober. Sweaty palms, sweaty pits. Lots of deep breathing and prayer. A non-stop session of Angry Birds helped.

The layover was in Seattle, and I found a bar.

“How much for a Jack and diet?”

“7.50,” she said “Outstanding. I’ll take one.”

“Would you like to make it a double for $3 more?”

I can only conclude that I am willing to pay for some peace of mind, but apparently, I have my limitations.

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