It was one of those surreal moments where you were like, OK, this is it.
I hope my affairs are in good order. Did I clean out my sock drawer last Saturday? Was the iron off when I left?
The flight was quite light that evening (note the lyrical cadence of this phrase). I had my favorite aisle seat, there was an empty middle seat and a man had the window seat.
We would take off shortly, stop in Washington, DC, to pick up more passengers, and then head to London. Simple. It was easy. This was at a time when smoking was still allowed on airlines. The thought of that now makes me cringe. Anyway, we left Detroit smoothly and headed east.
Mr. Window Seat started it as soon as we left Detroit. He leaned over to me and asked, “How long is Wash’ton?”
“About two hours.”
” How long ? »
“I am not sure”
During this interrogation, he kept fiddling with a wristwatch the size of an old alarm clock. There were a billion dials stacked on top of each other in different colors, and I was sure there were sound effects included.
He made me nervous. He made me an offer: “Are you going to Paris with me?
“Absolutely not, you insufferable moron. He curled up in his seat, pouting. We landed in Washington, picked up the extra passengers and left. The lights went out. I think the powers that be do this in the hope that all the passengers fall asleep at 5.45pm so they don’t ask for water every six minutes. In other words: “Just go to sleep and shut up.”
Halfway across the Atlantic, I put my book on the middle seat. I got up to walk a few laps around the plane, and when I got back I realized that somehow the book had fallen between the seat and the seat back. I leaned over but couldn’t feel it.
Mr. Charm asked what was wrong. I explained the problem. I guess to get into my good graces and to prevent me from stabbing him with my nail file or throwing face powder in his eyes, he cautiously offered to look for him. Our row of seats was in front of the right exit door, so there was room there for him to poke around.
He crawled over me and bypassed our seats. I could hear him fumbling in the dark. Soon, a strange smell started floating around. A few minutes later, he crawled over to me in his seat and handed me the book.
“Please, I have to tell you something quietly, lean towards me,” he whispered.
Based on his past behavior, I said, “I don’t think so!”
“Madam, please, this is very important. Please.”
He looked upset so I leaned over to hear him say this: “To look for your book, I had to light my lighter…and I lit a small fire.”
“Shh…you don’t have to tell anyone.
“We’re probably 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean – there’s no ‘little fire’ and, yeah, I’m telling someone.”
I rushed out of my seat and found a flight attendant and whispered to her what was going on but urged her to be quiet until we could figure out what he had made. So she did and then yelled, “FIRE?”
I wanted to slap her. We both lay down on the floor under the middle seat. The smell was coming from a lifejacket canister. The lighter had ignited the paint on the canister, causing it to bubble. Luckily, that’s the only damage. All fires were safely extinguished. He must have had a lighter the size of a blowtorch to bubble this paint.
Shortly after, airlines banned all smoking on flights. However, they fail to ban idiots from stealing. The time may come when they can. But for now, I’m still allowed to fly.
Susan Keezer lives in Adrian. Send him your good news at [email protected].