Brian nervously approached the sporting goods store. He was going to meet his hang glider instructor here. The shop owners assured him that Orville was the best and that he was well known for taking every safety precaution.
Brian hated to admit it even to himself, but he was just a little bit afraid of heights. However, it was a new year and the world was going to see a new Brian. It was time to confront his fears head on. Safely.
The bells on the door jangled as it opened. Brian held the door open for the family that was leaving, and then he took a deep breath. He walked in and looked around. Who could it be? Was Orville the tall bald man looking at camping gear? The teenager trying on tennis shoes?
He stepped up to the counter and asked, “Do you have a message for me from Orville? I’m supposed to meet him here.”
The sales clerk flipped through some papers by the register. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said.
Brian turned, not sure what to do next. In front of him, the racks of running clothes moved a little. The clothes were moved aside as someone very short passed by. Brian looked down.
It was a pig. A pig dressed in a sporty outfit, with sunglasses pushed up onto his head. The pig smiled. Brian blinked. “Are you…” He paused.
“Orville?” The pig asked. “That’s right. You must be Brian. You’re right on time. Let’s go check out the safety equipment. I want to make sure that your helmet is a good fit.”
“But I thought pigs can’t fly,” Brian said without thinking. Orville winced. Brian felt his face prickle red with embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I didn’t…I mean, I don’t…I just…I’m sorry.”
Orville sighed. “It’s all right. You’re right, you know. When you’re up in the air, you’ll feel like you’re flying, but a hang glider just glides. It doesn’t fly.” He turned. “Let’s go look at those helmets.”
Brian was measured and fit for a helmet and they discussed various brands of knee and elbow pads. Orville described the harness they’d be using and how it worked. Brian took careful notes.
When Orville listed some websites and handed over some brochures, Brian took them gratefully. The more he knew about everything, the safer he felt. Orville had him fill out some paperwork and explained the different payment plans.
They exchanged phone numbers and scheduled when to meet again. This was all sounding too real too quickly for Brian. Would he really be able to do this?
“Are you nervous?” Orville asked.
“Yes, I’m a little afraid of heights,” Brian admitted.
“A lot of people are,” Orville said. “We’ll start small on some training hills. It’s in the brochures.”
“Were you scared on your first glide?” Brian asked.
“No, but I’m not scared of heights either,” Orville said. “I’d always wanted to fly.”
“Then why aren’t you a pilot?” Brian asked. “Why can’t pigs fly?”
“I can’t pass all the medical requirements for a pilot license.” Orville smiled a sad half smile. “Pigs don’t see as well as people do, you know. My forward vision isn’t as good, and I don’t see all the colors that you do.”
“So you glide instead?”
Orville smiled a genuine smile. “It’s wonderful, you know. You feel so light and free. When you’re up in the air, nothing can touch you. You feel like somehow anything is possible. There’s nothing like it.”
“Wow.” Suddenly Brian felt less scared. He couldn’t wait to go home and read through everything. “Thanks Orville,” he said.
“I’m happy to help,” Orville said. And with a wave of the trotter, he left.