Back when I was young and stupid I had occasion to fly to several important appointments 400km away. (I’m not young anymore) It was a rushed affair and I spent the entire day buzzing from one place to another to meet people and keep appointments. Toward the end of the day a friend picked me up for the run back to meet the last plane out. Along the way she stopped at her local watering hole and I bought us a couple of rounds, which is really not a good idea before boarding an aircraft.
As we drove toward the airport, clouds built up around the city and rain started to fall.
Once at the airport she produced a pipe of high grade dope and hurried me through it, (another bad idea) although we were running late I waited patiently as she emptied one herself then we staggered into the terminal. Once inside and out of the building storm I found a handling delay had choked the airport which was full of people in huge winding lines.
Paranoia started to set in..
As my flight got closer and it looked like I was going to miss it, several kind people let me through to the front of the line which only served to draw attention to us and increased my anxiety levels.
A quick check in and a rushed thank you to the people who allowed me to cut in on them and it was around the corner to the boarding platform…and straight into a high level security check.
Back then there were no security checks for flights within Australia except for very rare exercises; like the training exercise we had walked into.
Did she still have the pipe? Was there dope in her bag? Panic!
The dozen or so security staff ushered us through the metal detector and x-rayed our hand luggage. As we started to walk off a female officer stepped forward to stop my friend from picking up her bag.
“Hang on, I just want to check something!”
My heart beat was through the roof already and this just topped it off as I saw myself sitting in jail for the night.
She rummaged through the bag and produced a huge Bowie Knife nearly a foot long, I couldn’t believe it! It was just like the Crocodile Dundee “This is a knife” knife.
Surprisingly the staff just told my friend that she would have to leave it with them and pick it up as she left…
A quick goodbye and I could feel my hands shaking as I went out through the departure door and into the teeth of the storm, I was the last one to board and the ground staff were waiting in the rain for me, they did not look happy!
Head down and up the slippery stairs, I missed the little sign that said I should duck…WHACK! I walked straight into the top of the door and staggered inside, head spinning.
I turned down the aisle and stopped dead… the plane was full of really, really old people with gaunt looks on their faces, every eye on the bloke who had kept them waiting, every eye on the bloke that just walked into the door and interrupted the hostess’ briefing. I felt claustrophobic and the world closed in around me. The plane felt very small and I got an instant feeling of impending doom, if the door had still been open I’d have headed out of it again, but the door was up and the plane lurched as it started to taxi.
Now I've been known to have the odd premonition and the rushed day, the beers, the dope and the stress I’d just been through made this felt as real as anything Id felt before.
I settled into the only empty seat in the aircraft and started thinking about my life’s successes and failures and started thinking up excuses for St Peter, even on this cold day sweat beaded on my forehead and ran stinging into my eyes.
The hour long flight through the storm seemed to take forever and every bump and lurch had me silently freaking out.
No-one was more surprised than I as we taxied into the little country airport at the end of the flight.
It was only then that I saw the identically painted and very similar aircraft I’d flown out on that morning…identical but much larger, hence the feeling of claustrophobia.
Although they had remained silent throughout the flight the old folks outing had apparently been a great success judging from their chatter now they were safe at home, and their bus was waiting to take then back to their old folks home.
That was the day I gave up smoking dope…