The Breakfast Table

A Driveway Experience

Margo, I had a driveway experience this morning … something readers won’t have in the future, if and when they “read” all their newspapers at a site like Slate.

I unsheathed my morning Globe, and saw the banner headline, “Plane Crashes Over Nova Scotia.” We ran two maps of the crash route, and one of them called out two towns, Peggy’s Cove and Blandford, which are just a few miles from my house in Nova Scotia. The plane seems to have crashed into St. Margaret’s Bay. If I had been standing on my front porch, I would have seen it go down. Yikes.

At my actual breakfast table, I made a few sardonic comments about the phrase “water landing,” which flight attendants still use when they cinch those life jackets around their waists. There is, of course, no such thing as a water landing, except in the movie Air Force One. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a commercial jet will disintegrate when it hits the water. I muttered to my family that there were probably a dozen survivors, at best. I was wrong. There were none.

I once interviewed a Delta pilot, who told me about a scene in a Steve Martin movie–I think it was Roxanne–in which he takes a newspaper out of the vending box, scans it, and is so disheartened by the day’s events that he thrusts it back into the box. That’s the way the pilot told me he felt every time he saw a headline about an airplane crash. And that’s the way I felt this morning. I wish I could have placed the paper back on the driveway, and gone on with my little life.