There’s Smoke in the Cabin!!

“Obviously you don’t have children. You have no idea what’s it like to travel with a small child.”

I had asked the plus-sized woman if I could please use the last washroom stall. The only available stall. She was changing a toddler’s diaper on the unit that unfolded from the wall. The child wasn’t in the way. She was. I was now a bit afraid to leave my small cubicle after being loudly scolded. Luckily, she had completed her task when I exited the stall.

I washed my hands and proceeded to walk towards the dryer when the woman, with her back to me, bumped suddenly into me with her ample backside.

“Oh, you again! I can’t believe you were in such a hurry when I was busy with a small child.”

Her voice was louder than earlier. Uh-oh. I did what I do best. I apologized.

She repeated. “Obviously, you don’t have children.”

I could hold my tongue no longer.

“Actually, I have two children. With their own set of problems.”

Yes, God has blessed me with enough patience to raise two daughters who have bigger struggles than my own.  Enough patience for most days anyways. Okay, the majority of days but no one’s keeping score!

Really, what would this woman do if she had a larger problem than me asking if she could move over a wee bit?

I proceeded to the airport’s waiting room, trying to recall we’re all God’s children. Love thy neighbour. Really, we don’t really know what troubles other people are going though, right? This was a tough one. I said a prayer for her. It wasn’t easy but I asked God to help her cope.

We boarded the plane soon afterwards. I was hoping I wasn’t seated next to her.  I may have prayed I wouldn’t be. Whew! I wasn’t.

We received the usual safety speech about applying your own oxygen mask before your child’s. Suddenly, a strong smell of burning rubber filled the plane. Along with smoke. Even, the flight attendant looked concerned.

Pilot Garth announced,” We have encountered an unusual situation. The APU cart has blown itself up and hemorrhaged. The auxiliary power cart is not part of the plane but is needed for the plane’s engines to start. We apologize for the temperature in the cabin. We can’t exchange the air now. We’re looking into getting a part. We will keep you posted.”

Passengers were given the opportunity to exit if they wanted to cool off. My sister, Nina and I instantly took them up on the offer. Our faces were flushed red with the heat. Middle-aged women and heat don’t mix well. We knew our limits.

There was quite a bit of camaraderie among the passengers now back in the waiting room. I texted my two daughters and my husband there was smoke in the cabin. Monique texted back,” OMG, Mom, I love u so much!” I laughed, realizing I had neglected to inform my family the plane was still on the runway. I savoured her text a minute. Then, reassured my family our plane wasn’t about to crash!

It didn’t take long for the remaining passengers to exit the plane. It was hot. The pilot referred to it as “stifling heat”. The pilots and flight attendants weren’t allowed to abandon ship, er, the plane for security reasons.

The part to be replaced had to come from London. Two hours away from here in Windsor.  Our plane was to be delayed four and a half hours. WestJet distributed unlimited bags of chips- with about 15 chips per bag- and unlimited bottle water. The airline agent told us that this rarely happens. And that perhaps she should order a round of drinks.

Passengers were given the opportunity to rebook for a flight tomorrow. We lost about a quarter of our group. A female passenger was beside herself, sobbing. Her father was dying, and his pain medications were being “upped”. She didn’t know if she’d get there before he passed away. A flight attendant saw to her immediately. Other passengers were missing their connecting flights. They were to be put up in hotels once they reached Calgary. A lady with a ten y. old son, who had never flown before, ordered wine. And kept drinking. She was getting louder and funnier.

Nina and I spoke with a passenger who had 4 frozen Windsor Pizza pizzas on board. And frozen fish. I wondered how horrible the cabin would smell when we boarded. It had been terribly hot. Nina had frozen venison salami in her carry-on. Funny, what people pack in their carry-ons. And, here, I just worry about my glasses and contact lens solution and electronics. I must start packing food. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

The announcement came on that pizza was being delivered. Eight pizzas to feed 70 people being allowed three pieces each. Airline sized portions? The miracle of the dough and anchovies? There wasn’t enough food for all initially but miraculously more food appeared.

Another announcement…one hour more delay. People stayed upbeat but were getting tired. Some people were sleeping sitting straight upright, their necks bent at odd angles. Others read, chatted amongst themselves and most, like me, just drank more coffee. And played on their electronics. When there’s smoke in the cabin, blog!

You can tell a lot about people by how they deal with lost luggage or in our case, delayed planes. And, I was fortunate enough to be in a room full of passengers who coped well when life hands you a lemon. Or as I like to say, when life hands you lemonade, just add tequila!

And, the lady that scolded me? Well, I had tried to be the better person. Remember the prayer I said for her? Well, her toddler remained amazingly quiet throughout the delay. It ended up being a seven and a half hour delay. Our plane didn’t leave until close to 11pm for a four hour flight. And you know what? I never heard a peep out of that woman or her toddler. Prayers answered. God helped her cope today. The woman even gave me a smile on the airplane. Well, how about that?

 

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