I was headed home from college in Virginia, on a flight out of Roanoke. Roanoke is not large. The airport has all of five gates. I once checked in only 45 minutes before my flight and the lady said she wasn’t sure I’d be able to board on time. I couldn’t help the look I gave her. Did she really think that walking up the escalator and down two gates would take more than five minutes?
Small airport means small planes. The one I was on this time had maybe thirteen rows, consisting of three seats each, two on one side, one on the other. I was on the side with one seat. That’s what I preferred, since it was both a window and an aisle seat. I like being able to look out the window, but I also like being on the aisle due to having a bit of claustrophobia.
It was spring or summer (not sure which), warm enough to be muggy. I happily pointed the air vent on me as I buckled in and pulled out a book. I was reading and ignoring the people around me when a snowflake fell on my book.
No joke. It’s summer. I’m INSIDE an airplane. And a snowflake falls on me. I picked it up. It was cold and melted on my finger. I looked around, befuddled, but eventually went back to reading. Then another snowflake appeared.
“It’s snowing on me.” Not sure who I was talking to, but I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. There was SNOW landing on me while I was on an airplane. I looked up to see the guy across from me looking a little confused. “It’s snowing on me,” I explained.
He got that wide-eyed “ohhhh” look that you give someone when they’re talking crazy.
But I wasn’t crazy. There were snowflakes falling on me! “No, seriously. I don’t know what’s going on, but there are white balls of frozen liquid falling on me.”
He did that patronizing nod thing, and said something to the affect of, “Yeah, uh-huh. I’m sure there are.”
I don’t remember if I argued with him for much longer, but I soon realized there was no way for me to prove I wasn’t crazy without insisting someone stand right over me and watch for something to fall in my lap, and—let’s face it—that would just be awkward.
I resigned myself to being the nut that my fellow passengers would tell their friends and families about. I got a tiny glimpse of what it must feel like to be labeled crazy when you know you’re not.
I sat there as one or two more itty bitty snow balls fell on me and tried to come up with a reasonable explanation for what had happened. One that didn’t make me conclude I was hallucinating. The best I could come up with was that the humidity and warmth had made condensation build up in the air vents of the plane. When they kicked the AC on, the very cold air froze those droplets of condensation and some of them were blown out to flutter down into my lap.
I considered posing my theory to the guy across form me who clearly thought I was a head case, but I had a feeling that would just make me look conspiracy-theory-crazy on top of the regular crazy.
So I bit my tongue and chalked the experience up to learning empathy. Or at least good research for writing a character.