“Was that 5J02?”
“I’m sorry what?”, I practically yell, trying to keep the hint of annoyance out of my voice.
At this the lady gets up, yanks her mask down and almost shouts, “5J06!!”
It is not her voice that startles me but the extent to which she had to go through, to convey the message to me. Her teeth, which have stains of a bright red color are visible.
“Thank you and please enjoy your flight.” She doesn’t wait for me to move ahead before she shouts “Next!”
I grab my pink suitcase and try to run. Just that it didn’t occur to me before that running with two sling bags, a backpack and a suitcase would be difficult before. The broken wheel of the suitcase makes a whistle-like screeching sound that makes enough people look up. My yellow pants don’t help either.
It takes more than just my running skills to reach the gates. Not to mention, the few gentle jerks and pushes I have to make to reach there.
When I reach the gates, I can almost sense the look of annoyance on the guard’s face. You wouldn’t be happy to see somebody at the gates when the flight takes off in less than five minutes. He swings a metal detector front and back and it starts beeping this annoying high-pitched sound at my waist.
Great. Never have I ever once, been stopped for having a metal strapped up somewhere in my jeans’ pocket.
“Sir, do you possess any metal object in your pocket?” He asks.
Now my hands are profusely sweating and they leave wet imprints on my pants. Of course, I don’t have a metal object. At the back of my mind, a tiny thought plays: “What if you have a blade that you never knew about?” “Just, what if there’s a pocket knife in there somewhere.” I dig my pocket and fish out a spanner. With it come out loads of bills, candy wrappers, and a peanut. The guards’ eyes trace the peanut before meeting mine.
Obviously. The most normal thing to come out at an air-port security check. The spanner which was used last week to fix the door hinges had no other convenient place to be in except my skinny yellow pants.
“I’m afraid I’ll have to confiscate this.” The guard says. The lady checks my boarding pass with two swift glances and shoves me through the door. 15 seconds later, I’m in my seat, belt strapped on, the seats on either side of me empty.
I knew when I saw the cat cross the road, this wouldn’t be a good trip. First with me almost getting hit by a vehicle and now, nearly missing my flight. I look out and the blue sky meets my view. Just a vast expanse of a bright blue, with no irregularities or imperfections. I try to close my eyes and rest.
“Sir” A man’s voice speaks, “This isn’t your seat sir.”
My eyes shoot open and a middle-aged man’s face comes into view.
“This is 5J04.” He shoves the paper in his hand at my face.
“Oh my god. I am really sorry.” I stand up, forgetting that I’m strapped to my seat belt. “Gosh, I am extremely sorry. I didn’t realize.”
Amazing. Not even an hour into the trip and my hope of not being embarrassed already out the window.
“That is completely alright.”, The man says as if I didn’t cause them 15 minutes of trouble. The man and a woman, his wife I assume, wait patiently as I wriggle out of my seat, gathering all my belongings.
You could say the trip got off to a rough start. But I’ve kept a few slots open for any inconveniences that might occur. And now I’m afraid there’s not much place left. It isn’t the baby that is annoying. No. I’ve had enough experience babysitting to know how much an awake baby can trouble you. But it’s the constant going in and going out by the mother even when the baby is sleeping peacefully.
“I’m from California.” The woman next to me says. Her face is lined with freckles and she looks to be, about twenty.
“I’m from Canada.” I lie. Not that she has to know.
“Oh, that’s nice, my sister is living in Canada.”
Great, I think to myself. Not that I asked.
“Where in Canada are you from?” Her voice has a high-pitched cheer to it, just the voice you don’t want to be hearing on a three-hour flight.
“Oh wow, that’s amazing. Kelly lives in Ontario too.” Out of all the places I had to choose.
“I’m a confectioner.” She says.
“That’s good to hear.” No, she is not going to know about my occupation. I turn around, attempting to end the conversation, as she says, “And what about you?”
“I’m an artist.” That’s not entirely a lie, given the amount of drawing and measuring I do every day.
“That’s amazing to hear, cause Kelly’s an artist too.”, she says excitedly. Oh, enough about Kelly.
I nod and once again attempt to end this talk.
“You know back where I used to work at the bakery, in California,”
“You see, I really need to use the restroom” I glide out of my seat and before she has the opportunity to say something else, I scoot away.
Just a loud person, sitting in the wrong seat and almost missing a flight. Not a lot of things, right? Not a lot of things to make you want to give a two-star rating at the airline company’s website. No, that would require a lot more. Probably more than just the ramblings of a stressed man. I’m so engrossed with my thoughts, that I don’t feel it at first. Then when I’m about to unlock the door, I feel it fully: A gentle jerk. Like the one which we felt in amusement park rides, as kids.
Another jerk. This time like the one when the brakes of the car were applied so suddenly that it made you want to throw up. I fumble with the doorknob and it doesn’t open. Now what was it? Two turns clockwise and…
Another round of turbulence hits. This time I know its huge because my stomach drops and I feel a little bit of the orange juice I had earlier at the back of my throat. My hands grope around the doorknob and it doesn’t help that my hands are sweaty.
With a single swing, I almost jump outside and hold the wheel of a trolley to prevent myself from falling over.
What in the world was that? Nothing about the pilot’s poor flying skills were ever mentioned in the website. I try to push myself up and in doing so, I knock something else down. An empty water cup is fallen at my feet. I walk back to my seat, without bothering to look at the water cup.
Maybe music. Maybe that would help me calm down. I find the pair of cheap headphones in a plastic cover and put them on. Slow Mozart starts playing in my right ear.
How did I trust the headphones to work? My head feels drowsy and my eye lids start to droop. I’m faintly aware of the Mozart playing in my ear as I fall asleep.
After what feels like four hours, I’m finally at the immigration gate with all my luggage surrounding me. It was not the noisy scuffling of the feet of passenger’s but the flight attendant’s arm arm that woke me up. With a few half-awake apologies, I grabbed all my stuff and rushed outside.
Is that little girl really smiling at me? I can’t really tell. My mind is now starting to wake up as I become more aware of my surroundings. I can’t remember the last time I felt this good after a nap. I almost forgot the magical effects sleep had on your body. With barely four hours of sleep every night, I was struggling to make out if the digit was a 6 or a 9.
At last, it’s my turn and I fish my phone out. The man throws his hand forward without looking up and, “Passport” he says. I reach inside my jacket pocket and my hand comes out empty.
Strange. Didn’t I keep it here?
My pant pockets! It probably must be there. I grope my pant pockets but it’s not there either. I hunt for the passport in my carry-on bag, where I’m sure I did not keep it.
Now the man looks up with an expression of pure annoyance.
“Great.” He must be thinking. “9 am and already a nuisance to deal with.”
“I… It is here.” I say uncertainly. Now I’m opening the luggage and I can here someone yell at me from behind.
Why am I even looking for it here?
“Sir, is your passport still on the plane?”
Is it? If I knew, I wouldn’t be embarrassing myself with my blue ducky pajamas spilling out of the suitcase, on full display.
“You will have to wait at the gate sir.” He says.
With a last look at me with my suitcase contents’ all about the floor, he turns and says, “Next.”