Thursday, 1 December 2011

One of those flights to the wild west

As I walk around the city streets of Perth, I notice several men with crazed eyes.  They look at me and probably notice the woman with crazed eyes and wild hair.  It's eight hours since I walked out my front door in Melbourne and I haven't even left the country.

There was one thing after another.

Initially everything was running like clockwork.  The train arrived one minute after I did.  Perfect.  After a stop at the ATM, the airport bus was waiting and I walked straight on.  The traffic flowed smoothly out to Tullamarine.  I went straight to a kiosk and checked my bag in.  So far, so good.  Time to get some lunch and walk around before being sealed in the plane for four hours.

(This proved to be a good move.  At the end of the story it was more like six hours in the plane.)

Looking at people in airports is one of my favourite things.  People have a lot of stuff.  People are running late.  People need to go back and forth through the security point three or four times before they believe they really do need to take the change and keys out of their pockets, confess to the carriage of aerosol shaving foam or deodorant, or reveal what they are hiding in the folds of their nifty mini-umbrella.  As a frequent traveller, I've got the process down to a fine art.  I know which jewellery and which shoes set off the sensors -  I don't wear them.  My umbrella is packed in my checked baggage.  If it would help, I'd have the fillings in my teeth popped out before I went through.  (That's never been an issue - so far - although there was an incident involving a particularly sturdy under wire bra sometime last decade.  Canberra airport, I think.)

The other thing I love about airports is the bookshops.  And there's time to browse!  I don't buy anything (my e-reader is well stocked) but I never tire of browsing.  There is a very enticing bookstore in the Qantas domestic terminal in Melbourne, if you're wondering.  Turn left after clearing security.

Anyway, boarding commenced on time.  People wrestled their stuff into their tiny space allocation.  The people already seated beside a spare seat hold their breath waiting to discover if they will remain in possession of the extra space.  You can feel their will to live seep out through their toes as you smile and say the fatal words:  "I'm in there."

The flow of passengers down the aisle thinned and we were all strapped in.  It was right on 3pm when when we should have been pushing back from the terminal.  Instead, the Captain tells us that a passenger has failed to board and has checked bags.  This means that we're waiting for either the passenger to turn up, or for the bags to be found and removed from the cargo hold.  Thirty minutes later there's another announcement telling us the passenger has been found and will be with us in five to ten minutes.   A low rumble goes through the cabin.  "I wouldn't like to be that person," I thought, as people craned their necks to catch of glimpse of the offender.

The passenger seemed oblivious to the glares of her fellow passengers as she walked down the aisle.  She was resplendent in a white gypsy skirt, royal purple blazer and chunky knit beanie and scarf in cream.  She was seated in 45A, just across the aisle from me.

The flight passed smoothly and we landed in Perth where we spent another fifty minutes sitting on the tarmac.  There had been a security breach of an unspecified nature in the airport.  As a result, we were stuck where we were and didn't have a time frame for release.  "Better out than in," I thought, under the circumstances.

People are strange.  We stand up, even though we can go no where. We become very tense, even when there is nothing to be done.  One man cracked my elbow with his knee as he climbed over bags in the aisle to find a long lost friend who was at the back of the plane.  When it was announced that we were free, he started to push his way back to the front of the plane with the compelling statement, "I need to get back to my seat."  Really?  Why?  We're leaving now!  You'll get there soon enough.

Thank goodness for the iphone.  I was able to tweet about my predicament and was pleased to hear back from a friend who acknowledged my plight.  At least someone knew where I was.

Suddenly the man beside me shook his phone and said dramatically: "They've shut down communications!"

I looked at him.  I looked at my phone.  Mine was fine.  Oh no, I was next to a panicker!  I hoped we'd be out before we needed to decide who to sacrifice.

Luggage arrived and then I joined the long taxi queue and drove off just in time to hit peak hour.  It took an hour to get to my CBD hotel.  It wasn't all wasted though.  I saw a man driving a red car change his pants while he was behind the wheel.  The traffic was moving so slowly there were several reasons why he may have needed to change his pants right there and then. I decided not to think about it.

I have a walk in wardrobe in my hotel room and the lighting in the bathroom reveals a woman who is in her late twenties.  Good lighting is just what I need after a day like today.

No comments:

Post a Comment