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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Near-Death in Mexico City, Part 3

For Part 2, click here.

Her side, continued:

We were seated in an emergency exit row, so I prepared for our impending responsibilities. I grabbed the comic-book style pamphlet from the seat-pocket in front of me and started memorizing the procedure for popping open the hatch and inflating the slide.

I wondered if the flight attendants would stop by for one last cram session, but they were nowhere to be seen. I craned my neck and spotted them settling into those funny flimsy-looking little jump seats and strapping themselves to the wall, seatbelts criss-crossing their chests.

Okay! This is really happening. Get your game face on, I thought calmly.

Surprisingly, I am reliably rock-solid in life-or-death emergencies. It’s only the everyday life-or-death situations, like raw chicken on the counter, that really rattle me.

The power (and exit signs) flickered on and off intermittently, and the turbulent trembling of the plane continued. Confident that I could satisfy my civic duties when it came time to open the emergency exit, I tried to get a sense of the craft. 

We were descending, but not gradually. The plane would make a steep drop, and then plateau for a bit. Drop, plateau. Drop, plateau.

It seemed to me that a crash would be less controlled. Maybe we weren’t going to die.

When we were low enough to see the orangey-haze radiating from the city, the plane’s behavior changed again. First we’d bank steeply to one side and then the other. One side window would reveal exclusively ground while the other showed only sky. Moments later, we’d roll in the opposite direction and the scenery would exchange.

We were careening through the air while swinging like a pendulum.
I started to feel seasick.

My Bob looked as though he was auditioning for a job as an ice-sculpture. He sat absolutely rigid and silent. I tried to reassure him with my limited knowledge of pilot training. (See? That semester of Air Force ROTC wasn’t a complete waste, Mom and Dad!)

What was Russ’s Bob up to? To my absolute horror and fascination, he wiggled his cell phone from his pocket and started dialing.

Within a few moments, it was clear that he had not called to bid his loved ones his final goodbyes. His terse, one-word sentences were the hallmark of a conversation with an automated menu.

“Yes! No! Yes! Customer Service!” he shouted.

I couldn’t believe it. He was calling to lodge a complaint before we even met our fate?!

Nope. He’d called another airline and was trying to arrange for a flight, and it wasn’t going well. “Don’t you know I’m a double-triple platinum member?” he hollered into the phone. Either he lost reception or the airline hung up on him.

He grumbled and started dialing again.

“Listen, babe. I’m on this Mexicana flight and we’re headed back to Mexico City because of stupid US customs. I need you to book me the first available flight on American Airlines for tomorrow morning. Tell them I’m a double-triple platinum member,” and then he rattled off his twenty-digit member number.

Suddenly, I realized we were very close to the ground. I hoped we were near the airport or at least somewhere relatively flat and uncrowded.

This was it. 


If you really, really hate cliff hangers and you really, really don't want to wait until tomorrow, I have the next part mostly ready. Caution, PG 13 for violence, language, intense scenes, and drug references. Still interested? You can get a sneak peek at Part 4 if you click here.

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