In the past 24 hours, two of the public’s worst nightmares have become reality.
The first is the San Francisco plane crash. While Australia slept, an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crash landed at San Francisco airport. Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that two are dead, while a further 140 are injured.
The second is the surfer who was rushed to hospital after being knocked unconscious by a 15-metre humpback whale this morning at Bondi Beach. It might not be a shark, but a whale is still a very real threat in the water. I imagine running head-first into an elephant would be a similar experience.
The thing that strikes me about both of these incidences is that they’re threats that cross our minds, but we wave away with the reasoning of “Oh, that never happens.” Crash landings from reputable airlines never happen. Being attacked by dangerous sea creatures never happen. If we couldn’t reason away these very real possibilities, we’d never board a flight or swim in the ocean again.
I’m not a nervous flyer, but the take-off and landing still freak me out. There’s always that weightless feeling as you take off, where you suddenly realise that you are in a giant tin bucket several hundred feet above the ground and there’s no possible way physics accounts for this shit. (I calm down and remember my physics lessons approximately 30 seconds later, or as soon as the stewards stalk walking around.) And when you land, there’s always that bump, when you think, “Hmm. Will the plane topple over? Will we crash into the terminal? Oh well done, they’ve landed safely again.”
I can’t say I’m as calm about the ocean. I mean, I love going for a swim and all but the entire time I’m having a mild panic attack, imagining all sorts of sharks/sting rays/jelly fish/blue bottles/crabs/seaweed that could brush against my foot. I live in Australia, so this is a very real possibility. (I did see a shark once. It was approximately three feet long and probably couldn’t have bitten my pinky toe off, let alone a leg. Doesn’t matter. I’ve never sprinted out of the water so fast in my life.)
As much as our imagination goes into overdrive when we’re flying, or swimming in the ocean, or looking for lost children or Googling vague medical symptoms, reasoning is what brings us back to reality. Landing planes is practically all done with technology, anyway. If there was a shark in the water, there would be a warning. The lost child has probably wandered over to the toy section. You probably have a mild cold, not cancer.
But today, we’ve had two nightmares come true. Granted, this is nothing compared to what’s happening in Egypt, or Turkey, or even Australia’s shambles of politics. But these are fears of a different type altogether. This is along the same lines of hearing a bump in the night, only to find out there actually is someone in your house.
Which leads me to believe there must be a very pissed deity somewhere. Or perhaps its collective bad karma. Or maybe it’s just a chronological hotspot of bad luck. That seems like the sort of thing that comes in threes, doesn’t it? The mystical and the magical and stand up jokes always come in threes. These incidences feel very much like they fit into the category of threes.
We’ve already had two. I wonder what’s coming next?
Bondi Beach: Sydney Morning Herald
Plane Crash: News.com.au