I was on a particularly turbulent flight to America, so as we came to land everyone was expecting rough bumps. When we touch the ground - nothing. It was as perfect as could be. Then the strangest thing happened... everyone on the aeroplane started clapping. While this was a pleasant thing to experience, it was kind of strange... I mean, you don't cheer a bus driver when he successfully pulls into the station. But nonetheless, it was nice.
This moment stuck with me the next time I landed in an aeroplane, where I hoped the same thing would happen... but nothing did. It wasn't until a few holidays later, when I had accepted it was just a strange one off, that out of nowhere it happened again. This time there were a few cheers. It wasn't even a particularly windy flight.
This got me thinking that it took someone special on the flight to start the clap... so I decided that special person would be me.
I found out this was easier said than done. The next flight I was on was to Poland. I was hyped up. Nothing could to stop me. The second those wheel touched the floor I would induce group clapping, nay, cheering. As the wheels hit the ground many thoughts went through my head. When do I start the clap? Do I start it as the wheels hit? Are we safe then, or should I wait till we have stopped? Is it probably too late when we stop, because usually they roll for a while- wait! No! I'm missing my chance... People are taking off their seat belts. I look across to see Mike looking at me waiting for me to clap, after all, he has promised to join me. My hands approach each other at rapid speed. Then something strange happens... they stop. And not due to the force of them meeting each other. Somebody has placed an invisible object between them. However much I push they will not go together. I look up, panicking, to see people starting to stand. I am missing my chance. It's too late now. If I start clapping I will just look weird. People will avoid me at the baggage collection. I've failed.
The shame stayed with me throughout the holiday. I forced a smile at times, but I wasn't really there. I was still on the flight... with my hands two inches from meeting. The thought wouldn't leave my head.
When we queued up to board the plane, I knew I wouldn't let the fear hold me back again. Whatever happens, as this plane touches the ground I will be clapping. The wings could be on fire, I could be strapped to my seat flying out the back hundreds of meters in the air... but as I see the glint in the distance of the plane landing my hands will be banging together in rapid succession.
The moment comes. I have decided I will clap a few seconds after it lands, as it starts to slow to a safe speed, but before it stops. I know the plan, Mike knows the plan, and soon the whole plane will love me. I prey for a smooth landing to get everyone in the mood. The pilot delivers. If I was to pull out now not only would I be letting myself down but I would be letting him down.
I look at Mike. A big smile spreads across my face as I start to clap. It starts off slow, then faster, and louder, and faster. Oh how I clap. The plane fills with the applause of happy travellers. I am on top of the world. I look across at Mike, who is clapping too... though I notice slightly slower, and a lot quieter, with a rather embarrassed look on his face. Reality hits me. A few people have propped themselves up, turned around and starring at me. I am a sole clapper. My hands slow down. I had been caught up in a moment of ecstasy, one which wasn't shared throughout the plane. I collect my bag and hurry off... defeated.
Months pass before Norway. I was given time to get over my shame. I couldn't let this list item, something that seemed so trivial, defeat me. Even Mike started to doubt me, but as a true friend he promised to be with me till the clapping ends.
I looked around the plane. It was full of the usual people, most for business, a few for pleasure, one of which a family with a small child who made it clear she was scared of flying. Its a tough crowd. I visualise the plan. Many thoughts rush through my head. It's quite a late flight, so will people be too tired to clap? Will the little girls family clap, or be too busy trying to calm her? Will I have the guts to go through with it, or will flashbacks of Poland stop me?
The wheels hit the floor. I slowly count to three.
1... It seems like eternity...
2... a bead of sweat forms on my brow...
3... - I explode into a a thunderous clap...
The plane erupts. Passengers fill the isles with explosive applause. Everyone's won the lottery! England have won the world cup! The Pope declared another Christmas! Everyone cheers, but this time it isn't in my head. I make eye contact with the little girl, who now has a big smile. Her dad even whoops, which fires off a Mexican wave of whoops throughout. I am a hero. A king. A god. I have crossed off number 39.