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The Airplane Crash Playlist

26 Mar 2012

‘So you all know I’m petrified of flying. It’s one of my phobias,’ the British aid worker said.

 

‘I feel like we talk about your phobias every week,’ said the female Australian aid worker.

 

It was Sunday evening and there was a football match being projected onto the large screen. Around the table were a half dozen aid workers, several rounds of empty beer bottles, a fresh round of mostly full beer bottles, and three half finished pizzas.

 

‘That may be so,’ said the British aid worker.’

 

‘It is so,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Anyway, in my sadistic need to feed my phobias, you know I gather all kinds of obscure information,’ said the British aid worker. ‘So I mentioned my fear when I was having a beer with one of the UN pilots and I asked him how long it would take for an airplane to crash.’

 

He paused for a swig of beer and a long glance at the football match and the others took the queue to do the same. The beer swigging and the long glances at the football match are like a metronome for these conversations.

 

‘He said it would take about 30 minutes to crash from a cruising altitude,’ the British aid worker continued after a one of the Chelsea forwards missed a header at the goal.

 

‘That would be gliding down, right, like if the engines failed? I mean, if the wings fell off it would go down a lot faster than that,’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘Well I didn’t ask that but, yes, I assume 30 minutes would be for a controlled descent,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘It must be,’ said the Canadian aid worker, ‘otherwise the thing would spiral downward like a javelin.’

 

‘Absolutely,’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘Like a javelin - my nerves are a wreck just thinking about it,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘What point are you getting at?’ said the female American aid worker who was probably also a bit skittish about flying but would not admit to it.

 

‘The point is: what would you do with those last 30 minutes before you crash?’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘Probably scream my head off,’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘Well, yes, but after that,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘You can’t scream for 30 minutes straight, can you?’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘Bet I could,’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘I’ve experienced 30 straight minutes of screaming before,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

There was laughing and then drinking and then the British aid worker said, ‘Ok but the question stands: how would you spend the last 30 minutes?’

 

‘I think I would grab the first cute guy I see and make a run for the lavatory,’ said the female Australian aid worker.

 

‘Ok, so what would you do with the remaining 25 minutes?’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘25 minutes and 30 seconds,’ corrected the British aid worker.

 

‘30 seconds for zipping back up and straightening your coiffure, no?’ replied the American aid worker.

 

‘The airplane is crashing - who gives a fuck about the zip-up and the coiffure?’ said the female American aid worker who was not enjoying the conversation.

 

‘Actually, the coiffure is rather a problem - I have this stubborn cowlick that requires minding,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘Actually it needs some minding right now,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Oh, thank you, honey,’ said the British aid worker sarcastically.

 

‘I just want you to look your best, sweet cheeks,’ said the Canadian aid worker in the same tone.

 

‘Anyway there’s only what - like four lavatories or something?’ what if someone gets there before you?’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘What if someone genuinely needs to take a shit?’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘Why bother with the lavatory?’ said the Canadian aid worker, ‘You’re going to die anyway, right?’

 

‘Especially if you’re in business class - there’s more leg room,’ said the female Australian aid worker.

 

‘Good point,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Ok, but if pilot miraculously saves the day while you’re right in the middle of it - then what?’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘Then your caught with your tiny pecker balls deep in the closest hole you could find,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

The group ordered another round of drinks and the waiter collected two of the pizza trays before going off to fetch the next round. There were two minutes left before halftime so the conversation paused while they took the first cold sips from the new Tuskers and watched a penalty kick. When the players ran off the pitch for halftime, the discussion resumed as though it had never been sidelined.

 

‘So you scream for what a minute? A minute and a half?’ said the British aid worker. ‘Then, maybe some miserable, terrified woman lets you take your pathetic little Jimi for one last round of the old in-and-out. That’s another five minutes, right? Then what?’

 

‘You probably need a good 15 minutes if you want to go again,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘No. Put on some Creedence or Pink Floyd, push the seat back, and take a little nap until the end comes,’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘What an asshole,’ said the female American aid worker.

 

‘What? Even with the plane crashing you would want to talk afterward?’ said the American aid worker.

 

She punched him on the shoulder while he was taking a drink and he spilled the Tusker on his lap.

 

‘That’s the point though,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘What? To talk about your feelings after sex before you die in a plane crash?’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘No. The point is what music would you listen to for those last let’s say 30 minutes while the plane is crashing,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘OK, I’m with you,’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Sure, and you wouldn’t want spend the whole time flipping through albums looking for the right song,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘Yeah, you would start rocking out a few seconds and then realize, “No, this just isn’t it. Not right for the occasion,”’ said the American aid worker.

 

‘So you need a playlist,’ said the female Australian aid worker.

 

‘Exactly. That’s the point. Would you wish you had a 30-minute best-of playlist ready to go?’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘An Airplane Crash Playlist,’ said the American aid worker. ‘I like it. You’re onto something here.’

 

‘So would you choose your favorite songs of all time or songs that remind you of special times in your life or songs that you think might be appropriate for the context of being in a plane crash?’ said the female British aid worker.

 

‘That’s the question,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘Plus what if the forensics team finds your charred remains holding the iPod and looks through the playlist?’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Yeah,’ said the American aid worker. “Hey, Harry, come take a look a this. This poor son-of-a-bitch was listening to Lady Gaga when the plane went down.’

 

‘A lot of factors to consider,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘You guys are so morbid,’ said the female American aid worker.

 

‘Anyway, it’s a relevant issue to consider and, according to my phobia, it’s a scenario that’s quite likely to happen,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘Especially with how often you fly between field offices and the regional office,’ said the female Australian aid worker.

 

‘So you’re saying my odds are even higher - thanks for that. My phobia just loves having you around,’ said the British aid worker.

 

‘I can just picture it,’ said the American aid worker. The loudspeaker comes on: “This is your captain speaking. We have just lost our engines and will begin crashing now.” Everyone goes nuts. There’s screaming and fighting and fucking all around and this guys takes out his iPod.’

 

‘And orders a glass of Sherry,’ said the British aid worker. ‘I that would be my preferred last drink.’

 

‘And would you tip your bowler with the top of your cane?’ said the Canadian aid worker.

 

‘Sure. “God save the Queen’” and then Jimi Hendrix “Highway Chile” right into oblivion,’ said the American aid worker.

 

The second half of the football match was starting so they ordered another round of Tuskers.

 

 

(Not from the author: Yes, I have made an Airplane Crash Playlist and no, there is no Lady Gaga on it)

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