I’ve been thinking about how fearful I was on the flights coming here. The first flight was KLM, which is an airline I’ve flown quite a few times and trust. The plane, however, was a 747, and looked old. The 747 is the plane I’m probably least trustful of because it’s the one that seems the most impossible: how could something that big get off the ground and stay off the ground? I was sitting just behind the wing and keep seeing the engine shake around every time we hit turbulence, and kept picturing it simply falling off.
The flight was pretty smooth until we were somewhere between the Sahara and our destination in Nairobi, when it got quite bumpy. I got very nervous, to the point that I needed some soothing words from a friendly stewardess, which quite helped. She made me feel better by telling me that on this route, between Holland and Kenya, they often get turbulence just at that point.
Anyway the second flight was Kenya Airways, and that fact alone made me very nervous. The question is why? The plane was another sort of Boeing, probably no older than the 747 I’d just flown. The flight attendants were just as professional and efficient as always. The flight was actually smoother than the KLM flight, though there was a bit of turbulence.
What I kept thinking about during that second flight was an article I read recently about corruption. It said something along the lines of how Kenya has the worst corruption level in Africa. So what I was imagining through the whole flight was maintenance workers installing substandard parts in order to skim off some of the money. Or management bribing inspectors. And so on.
My question, dear readers, is this: when I have these thoughts, am I being racist or rational? And if your reaction is that my fears are rational, then are you racist too?