I love airplanes. There is something almost sacred about flying.
So often I hear stories about people being seated next to someone who changed their life. There are also lots of jokes and eye rolling about ending up with the seat mate from hell, but I guess I have been fortunate. I’ve done a lot of flying and have always had wonderful conversations with my seat mates.
An unsettling thought just occurred to me. Maybe I’m the seat mate from hell. I can definitely say that this was not the case during the most bizarre airport experience I ever had. It all started when I arrived at a small town airport and found it completely barren of human life. With only 45 minutes before takeoff, the waiting room was empty; the rent-a-car booths were empty and even the lone ticket counter appeared to be deserted.
I drug my suitcase over to the ticket counter and leaning over it was somewhat relieved to discover a young woman in a room off to the side working on a jigsaw puzzle. She ignored me. I set my suitcase on the luggage platform and politely coughed. The young lady sighed, put down a puzzle piece and reluctantly walked over.
Now I had just bought a new laptop and had never travelled with one before and was a bit worried about losing all my work. “I have a laptop in my carryon bag,” I told her. “And computer discs. Lots of computer discs. Does it hurt them to go through the scanner thing?”
“You’d have to ask security about that,” she replied.
She finished tagging my suitcase and I wandered over to the departure area. The glass doors were still locked with still no sign of security, so I sat down to wait. About 10 minutes later the girl behind the ticket counter stepped over the luggage platform pulled a set of keys from her pocket and walked over. She unlocked the glass doors, walked around to the other side of a low wooden table, picked up the beeper gun and looked at me expectantly. I stood up and went in.
“Do you have any sort of computer devices in your carryon?” she asked.
I looked back at her. She knew I had a laptop. I had already told her I had a laptop. Then I realized that was back when she was the ticket collector. I took my computer out of its bag and then gamely asked her again, “Does your scanner hurt laptops or computer discs?”
“We don’t have a scanner here,” she said briskly. “So I’ll just need to get you to turn on your computer.”
I noticed that she was a lot more professional in security. I barely got the computer fired up when she snapped, “Good enough. Shut it off. I just needed to see the light.”
I couldn’t help wondering how a green light would tell her I’m packing a computer instead of a bomb. Couldn’t you make a bomb with a green light in it? I wanted to ask her about this, but thought better of it when the pilot walked in.
He glanced over at me, then looked at her and asked, “Just the one?”
She nodded. I was the only one on the plane. The plane was smaller than I expected. There was only one row of seats on either side. Every seat was an aisle and window both. I looked down at my ticket where Seat 4A was printed. Feeling a bit foolish, I made my way to Seat 4A and sat down. The plane started to move down the runway as the co pilot’s voice comes over the PA system. I could see right into the cockpit. I watched the back of his neck as he talked.
“If you are travelling with infants or small children, please hold them securely on your lap during takeoff.” He said without a trace of humour.
I looked around at all the empty seats and then double checked my ticket but was only mildly reassured when the destination didn’t read ‘The Twilight Zone’.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can visit her online at www.shannonmckinnon.com