My Fear Of Flying


There are lots of reasons to dislike airline travel these days.  Long lines, long waits, intrusive security check-points, cattle-call boarding and poor on-board service to name a few.  And then there is the likelihood of someone traveling on your flight with a contagious illness.  Growing up I remember airline travel as glamorous and exciting.  Not so much anymore.

During my second career, as a non-profit executive, I flew up to 50,000 miles a year.  That earned me lots of upgrades (remember those?).  One time I found myself sitting next to John Denver though I didn’t realize it until half way through the flight while he was sleeping soundly next to me.  Most of the time I flew coach and had all types of traveling mates – the good, the bad and the ugly (in behavior).

The agency I worked for was called the Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry.  I loved my job but I feared having to explain it to someone on an airplane.  And so I often told a white lie about my career.  I was a neonatal ENT doctor on one flight and a librarian on another.  Just easier to explain than fighting prejudice.

Then one day I realized there was a difference between what I AM and what I DO.  For all of my life I have been a musician and a singer.  To support that habit I needed a “real” job and so I had careers as a college professor, non-profit executive and PR/marketing consultant. That’s what I DID.  But what I AM is a musician.  And when I fly these days, that’s what I tell people. Of course, now there are so many ways to take your music with you, that travelling on a plane has become more enjoyable.

Two years ago I was ready to close my PR business and retire.  As luck would have it, a dear friend was also ready to retire after running the best acoustic instrument store in the Mountain West for more than 50 years.  A few conversations later, I bought the Denver Folklore Center, where we specialize in acoustic instruments and we are one of the top Collings guitar dealers in the US.

When my friend, Amy, heard what I had done, she said “your circle is now complete,”  a very nice way of saying that what I now do to support my music habit is to help other people support theirs.  And I no longer fear the conversation about work with seat mates on airplanes.  I still dislike the airport and airline experience and I worry about getting sick every time I fly.  I suppose that’s just the price we pay to get from here to there more quickly.

Article Shared By: Saul Rosenthal