Sky Ops Surprise: That one time I was an under-cover agent
The goddamned rivets blew my cover.
For nine months, I ran a quiet operation. I blended in, asked around a little, mostly kept to myself, just watching. I was on assignment with, well, let’s just say a loosely affiliated group of big brains who wanted answers.
It was an information seeking mission. It was never supposed to get dangerous. So when I found myself mid-mayday on a plane plummeting toward the earth, I got to thinking how life isn’t exactly fair.
Little did I know that was just the beginning…
(to keep reading, click here.)
|Inside Southwest 812.|
Extraordinary experiences call for extraordinary stories. I learned that four years ago after I lived through an April Fool’s Day emergency landing on Southwest Flight 812.
I was in grad school at the time, studying airport security, among other things. I’d planned a course paper for my narrative theory class that would translate my research about emotions in airport security lines (see here) into creative nonfiction. After I learned what it feels like to plummet 26,000 feet in four minutes, I knew my paper would have to change.
On a lark–partly to impress my professor who had a strong penchant for spy stories and detective novels, and partly because wacky ideas sound reasonable to the sleep deprived–I retooled my story as if I were an under cover agent. The premise is that the emergency landing blows my “cover” and I recount surveillance techniques, what it’s like to be tormented by the “Inquisition Squad,” and how I eventually got out of hot water and back to work.
Using performative writing and autoethnographic techniques, I wrote an essay that feels more like a blog post than a scholarly article. (Although rest assured, there’s plenty of nerd work toward the end.) I’m thrilled to report the piece, entitled “Sky Ops Surprise: When Near-Death Experience Exposes Undercover Ethnography” was just published today in the journal Departures in Critical Qualitative Research.
|My 48 hours in Germany a few years ago included reenacting the events of Southwest 812. That was something.|
I’m proud of the piece, not only because it shares one of my most interesting life experiences, but because it was so damn fun to write. Even the scholarly bits where I talk about the ethics of speaking for others and co-opting narratives after having my story re-envisioned by a German filmmaker (yes, seriously).
Please read it (click here) and let me know what you think!
NaBloPoMo May 2015
May 1– To selfie or not to selfie
May 2- Helping things grow
May 3- All the feels
May 4- When your imagination wears you out
May 5- ‘How Porcupines Make Love’: Because, why not?
May 6- A man who makes me laugh
May 7- That elusive quality of nature
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