THIS JUST IN
This is your flight attendant: Oxygen masks $15, seat belts $25

Holiday airfares rising” was the newspaper headline, and the last thing that I remember reading before dozing off. A few shadows slow-danced in the fire’s glow …

“Welcome aboard folks. This is Captain Bubba McCoy from the flight deck. Thank you for flying Hobson’s Choice today. We have perfect weather – except for the thunderheads and lightening. But at this time of year we expect that, so just relax. It is, however, unsafe for the baggage crew to continue loading the plane.

“Pardon the yawn folks, but I’m wiped out. What a night! The motel’s fire alarms went off and we ended up standing around the parking lot. Next thing you know, I’m on the shuttle back to the airport. I’m getting too old for this stuff – but hey, don’t go counting your pilot out! Now give your attention to our safety professionals.”

Flight attendant: “At this time, please turn off all cell phones, iPods, iPads, Bluetooths, BlackBerrys, and garage door openers. Battery driven bingo pads are permissible.

“Those who are seated in an exit row, please identify yourself to a crew member if you lack the ability to speak, nod, point, or blink.

 “Now everyone in an exit row raise one hand. Now everyone in an exit row clap your hands twice. Now everyone in an exit row say, ‘Mother may I.’ Super! Everybody’s passed the hearing test!

“Now say so if you do not understand the following crew commands: Wenn sie in einer reihe von sitzen neben einem notausgang sitzen. Don’t be embarrassed. Different people have different abilities.”

“This is Captain McCoy again, folks. Good news – we’re cleared for takeoff. Sit back and enjoy – oh, oh! Looks like we’ll be returning to the hanger for a recalibration of the afterhype in our left haberdashery. However, we may still reach Chicago in time for a few of you to make connecting flights – gravity permitting, as I always say. Think I’ll catch a couple of winks.”

“This is your cabin attendant again. Should the cabin pressure change, take a deep breath and hold it while you activate the oxygen mask dispenser overhead by inserting three five-dollar bills face up into the slot above the seat pocket where it says, ‘For oxygen mask, insert three five-dollar bills face up into the slot.’

“In the event of a water landing, life preservers can be purchased by credit card or with 35,000 frequent flyer miles. If you haven’t prepaid for your seatbelt fasteners, please have the $20 ready before takeoff.”

“Hey, Captain McCoy on the flight deck again, folks. We’re outta here! Hope you didn’t hear the snoring. My co-pilot left the P.A. on. Chicago’s fogged in, so we’re rerouted to Windsor, Ontario. Great news for any of you with family or friends in Windsor! The charge for the extra 40 minutes of flight time will be collected by our cabin attendants. Whew, am I ever wiped out!”

“This is your cabin attendant again. Tray tables can be lowered for $10, armrests and cupholders are rented by the hour. Your window shade must be raised by the attendant. Just press the orange call button. Let her know how long you’ll be looking out. You’re charged by the half hour – there’s a one-hour minimum. Overhead lights are only $5, which is less than any other airline. You can pay the attendant or you can swipe your credit card in the chair arm receptacle.

“There’s also a coin slot there to activate the overhead fresh air nozzle. If you need quarters, use the change makers on the doors of the pay toilets.

“In-flight magazines are available in your seat dispenser for $10. Today’s movie, for $20, is ‘The Tooth Fairy’s Dirty Little Secret.’ For lunch, our yummies include, for $30, your choice of pork rind patty on a biscuit with chips, the sardine and cheese soup, or the broccoli and oyster salad. Water and beverages will not be available, the cart having been mistakenly stored below with the baggage. This, however, means a substantial savings for you this trip.

“When we reach our cruising altitude, you may move about the cabin – for a fee of $12 for adults and $4 for children under 12 – and to avoid congestion, please keep to your right when walking the aisle.

“Hey, Captain McCoy again, folks. I thought I’d practice a few aerial maneuvers – just kidding. But we’re about to encounter a smidgen of unexpected turbulence, so you might want to be seated with your head between your knees.”

… “Fred, you’re snoring! Wake up!” For a minute there, Sweetie Pie looked unfamiliar, like some strange woman who had yelled at me in a crowd. I felt for my seatbelt. Then I understood. It was just a bad dream. The airlines will never go that far (wink, wink).

Fred Gehrung is a freelance writer who lives in the Marina. Fred has written features and humor for newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times. E-mail: fred@marinatimes.com