Get a job. You know what job—with the water jug, the cake for special occasions, and that guy who keeps calling himself “Horace” despite all the official documentation that refers to him as Gary.
Work right into the evening. Stack your desk with papers so important there are multiple numbers on them. Drape yourself in a purpose so visible it comes in rich blues and reds and forest greens and pinstripes and pleated khakis, a purpose that “Horace” will notice and comment on to the guy in the adjacent cubicle: “Wow, that guy in the corner cubicle sure does have a lot of future earning power.” He could, and probably will, be called as a witness to testify to your good work ethic. Consider taking “Horace” out to lunch before your flight. He likes tapas.
In the security line, when someone offers you the chance to be white, take it. Not so white that you can’t tan, just olive enough to exploit your newly acquired mostly whiteness, along with your three-floored colonial with a fence and a ball in the yard and a dog that nobody could decide what to name until your son settled on Flerbert H. Herbert.
Produce more offspring. Yes, your son’s great and special and specific in his singleness, and we mostly love him, but you need to establish that there were at least two to five things you were responsible for and many objects against which your face was photographed.
Do not have any religious affiliation. Not even Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, especially not Muslim, since, at the end of the crash, you’d be greeted by a throng of enthusiastic virgins. “And what could be better than that?” the claims adjuster would ask.
Sure, the Christian God offers salvation and a glorious eternity, but, as a man of the flesh, you never really saw the appeal. People often associate religion with death and a religious death with peace. Do not be peaceful. Be restless, concerned, wildly confused about the way the plane just keeps going down, like it has no idea what defines a bad idea. Maybe even throw your hands in the air.
Your first mistake was getting seated in 16B, because the woman in 16A is looking out her window, holding her cap with one hand, and is really terrified now. Lean over her and stare at the wing. I mean, really see it fly right off, watch the wires split in two, the metal tear like tissue, and really internalize the terror. “How do you internalize something you feel instantly and all at once without actually understanding?” you ask the lucky woman in 16A, so close to your face. She thinks it’s like a crepe, the way people keep claiming it’s not a pancake. “But how is it any different?” she asks you. “How?”
When the guy in 16C elbows you and suggests you steal the peanuts and some Cokes while everybody is busy running around like chickens with their heads cut off, tell him no. You like peanuts. The way they are salty yet sometimes nutritious, depending on the manner in which they were prepared. “Digestion of peanuts would decrease my suffering by about 15 percent,” you say. “No wait, 25 percent. But you go ahead, sir.”
Rip your oxygen mask from the ceiling. Later, when they find it broken and realize that you ran out of air before anyone else, someone is sure to exclaim, “Oh God, this man was truly an honest sufferer.” Keep suffering. Keep suffering until you feel the very last bit of it. Think about all the things you’ve done, all the things you never did, and all the things you tried to do but weren’t emotionally capable enough to accomplish. Think about your wife and how you never installed the cabinets she asked for because you like dark brown and she thought dark brown was too “library” for a kitchen. “How is something too library?” you asked her. “That’s not even an adjective. Nobody says, ‘I am so much more library than you.’”
Now, why would you have hurt her feelings like that? Ponder this, how you’ve always disappointed her, the way you never understood why she needed you to come home in time for dinner once in a while, to enjoy the pasta before it clumped like a cold sack on your plate. “I was doing it for you, for our estate, don’t you realize?” you say, but she can’t hear you. You are merely talking aloud, and, frankly, the woman in 16A has had enough of these questions of yours that have no detectable context.
Feel the oxygen slip out your mouth and wonder about pavement. Remember past experiences you’ve had with pavement against your skin. Falling off your bike, tripping on your shoelace, a stubbed toe here and then there. You always hated that kind of pain, its subtlety somehow affecting you much more acutely than the obvious pain of a broken bone. Decide what will hurt more: the snapping in half of a body or the snapping in half of a body.
And, if there’s time left after all of this, you might consider getting your master’s.