AC591 was a cramped Tango flight. I was wedged between a man who’s clearly had far too great a caloric intake, and a woman who was carrying a new born child. Between the vomit inducing stench of the fat man to my right, and the incessant crying of the infant to my left, I was sure to enjoy this wonderful five hour flight. Yes, five hours. On paper, it seemed far shorter. The ticket said that you'd leave Toronto Pearson at 8:30 am and arrive at 10:20 am at Las Vegas Maccarran International, a mere two hours. What most fail to realize is that Toronto and Las Vegas are three hours apart when considering daylight savings time. Do the math, and you find yourself nearing suicidal rage with every grunt and moan or eardrum erupting scream. The only reason I was stuck in this predicament was because hapless-motorist Mr. Prescott’s credit card didn’t quite have enough on it for first class.
One might ask why a talented fellow such as myself wouldn’t simply lift someone else’s wallet before we boarded the plane. Perhaps that of the fat man to my right, who probably purchases enough food in one month to feed a third world country with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The answer is: Since the flu scare, security in airports has become quite tight, and although I’m a risky bastard, losing out on the cash flow I was about to make with this Nevada gig for first class wasn’t very logical. Then again, at this point I was largely considering leaning over the waling child to pull down the emergency exit latch and send us all to kingdom come. I refrained.
There was a slight commotion ahead, in the forward part of the cabin. I tried to stand up in my seat a bit to see what was going on, but most other passengers were doing the same. All I saw was the backs of many heads. That was until a wave of motion surged toward me as panic broke out.
Everyone began yelling at the same time, but in the midst of the chaos I picked up a single, terrifying phrase.
The captain’s intercom came on, but was quite frankly being overpowered by the hysteria taking place aboard the plane.
Now, I’m not quite sure, but small places tend to do stupid things to people in a panic. Perhaps it’s better said that panicking stupid people do things in small places. In any case, one man, perhaps gleaning from my previous pondering, decided it was a good idea to run for the exit. Knowing a little bit about planes, I realized that opening the cabin to an extremely low exterior pressure at twenty thousand feet was going to make for a bad day.
I pushed over the blimp of a man, who just then woke from his abysmal slumber, and pushed my way through the crowd. Thing’s weren’t looking good, there were too many people in the way, and the man was already at the door, hefting on the lever. It was time to do some damage if I was going to secure my own personal safety. Unfortunately that meant that I would have to risk the safety of, well, pretty much everyone else. One particular gentlemen wasn’t quite cooperating with me as I tried to push him aside. After slamming my knee into the back of his, he quickly became compliant, in the way of falling at least. I stepped over him and continued through the mob, taking some people from behind in rear naked holds to pull them out of my path. The smart one at the door had finally realized he was pulling the lever the wrong way when I reached him. Just as he went to pull it down, (the way the big red arrow was illustrating) I palmed the back of his head and made sure that lever was the last thing he’d see for quite some time. The steel handle struck him on the side of the face, just shy of his eye in the temple region and he collapsed, unconscious to the cabin floor.
Now I turned around to something a little more disconcerting. Apparently, some of the passengers I assaulted weren’t quite sure who did the deed, but were rather content with swinging a fist at the nearest person. Lo and behold I turned around to see a veritable brawl taking place in the isle.
That’s when the air horn blasted, and an eerie silence, all but the humming of the engines and the periodic turbulence was heard. A sweaty and disheveled Captain stood in the isle, his knuckles bloodied. “That’s enough!” He yelled, “What is wrong with you people?”
I almost felt like asking him who was flying the plane, but I was afraid the joke wouldn’t exactly be appropriate at the moment.
“No one here is sick.” He reassured us. “Since February all passengers are screened, no one with even the slightest raised temperature can get on a flight. Christ they even take blood samples!”
He stood there, looking at all of us. I watched as most passengers avoided eye contact, staring at the used carpet as they attempted to shield their damaged pride.
Without a word, the Captain turned on his heel and marched down the isle toward the cockpit.
His staccato footsteps resonating through the winded chests of every passenger he passed.
What was I getting myself into?