Or: The fact that the story was listed under “local news.”
Reading the details didn’t make anything any less strange. Apparently, yeah, that’s exactly what happened. A regional airliner crashed in the middle of Africa, and it was a crocodile’s fault. More or less. One of the passengers had zipped the animal into a duffel bag, apparently to smuggle it into the destination city and sell it.
I imagine things a lot – it’s not only my nature but my job description – but I have to confess to conducting through my entire life until today without ever imagining myself smuggling crocodiles inside carry-on luggage. But I also have to confess that once I did imagine such a thing, one of the earlier thoughts on the agenda had something to do with a duffel bag not being my first choice of container. It’s possible the smuggler came around to a similar conclusion after it was too late to do much about it. The story didn't say.
Here’s another thing I have to confess, though: The luggage-selection issue wasn’t the very first thing I imagined myself doing differently. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a smuggler of prehistoric reptiles while I have been a journalist (speaking of prehistoric), but the very first thing I thought of doing differently was to not bother with the phrase, “pandemonium ensued.”
When an airliner is on its final approach and a crocodile chews its way out of somebody’s carry-on and follows the passengers and the flight crew into the cockpit, it’s really only news if pandemonium doesn’t ensue.
But that’s fine. I really try not to make it my business to second-guess. I’d rather try and take what lessons I can from every experience, be it my experience, your experience or a passenger on the rare flight that was even worse than flying Northwest Airlines during the 1990s. So here goes:
- It’s tough to feel like you’ve got it rough when you read that 20 other people not only had a day in which a crocodile crashed their plane, but it was their very last day. But any writer of any kind of fiction can be excused for feeling a little sorry for himself when he reads a line like “The crocodile reportedly survived the crash but was killed by a blow from a machete” and grasps just how daunting it is to compete with reality.
- While I don’t spend a lot of time concerning myself with whether there’s an afterlife, I find myself certain that if there is one, there needs to be beer and they need to charge for it. Because if any of those 20 victims is any kind of storyteller at all, how is every other angel going to buy him a beer if it’s free?
- In the future, I will either get more worked up or less worked up over other people’s ridiculous carry-on luggage, but never again the same amount.
- Same with bad days in general.