I DREAM of the day a fast train operates between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Because if I have to get on one more plane in the next few years, I feel I may never live to tell the tale.’
It’s taken me eight very long years to be able to get on an aircraft without some form of intervention – from being shamed into my seat by a child travelling with me to pharmaceutical or alcoholic support.
Unfortunately due to yet another flight from hell, I am now right back to square one, but rather than a broken, shaking mess, I am slightly more amused.
You see, this time a knight in shining armour came to my rescue in the most vulnerable and embarrassing of moments.
Now as a feminist it pains me to admit what is about to unfold before your eyes as I see myself as a strong independent woman, not the proverbial maiden in distress who needs rescuing.
But with my ‘terra’ rising the further we got away from terra firma, I was sinking into a catatonic condition and needed immediate rescue.
It started innocently enough – I was on my way home after two days of journalism training at a beachside hotel in Manly. Not too shabby really.
I failed to really heed the first warning sign – a fire at a traffic control tower at Sydney Airport.
Bravely I sailed on and into the terminal.
Even the announcement that my flight had been delayed for at least an hour (normally a news update that makes my deodorant fail immediately) didn’t seem to bother me too much.
By the time we took off about 8pm (with no food for six hours) I was ready to eat my neighbour’s arm.
The airline had promised us free food and drink because of the delay so I was on high alert as we took off.
However, with the food trolley just two rows away we suddenly went headlong into a dark and thundery storm; with the plane shaking violently before dropping like a horror ride at Movie World.
After my initial “we’re all going to die,” squawk my first reaction was to look at the air hostesses – a sure guide as to the danger level.
They had dropped as quickly as the plane and were racing down the aisle to their seats.
The captain tried to cover their retreat by making light of the situation but I knew the shit had hit the fan.
My anxiety erupted uncontrollably from within me.
I started shaking, shallow breathing and tears poured down my face.
This was the end.
I looked at the men next to me to see how they were coping – they were probably the last people I would ever see (and they weren’t Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling).
However the man to my immediate left could obviously sense my distress and turned to me and smiled. He then proceeded to ask me questions about myself, where I had been and his life as an Australian Indiana Jones (truth be told, though, he was just an archaeologist – no hat and no whip) for 20 minutes to distract me from the impending fear of death.
I am so grateful for what this man did for me.
And it wasn’t just his quick thinking distraction technique that saved me from doing a Marge Simpson, running up and down the aisle, screaming “we’re all gonna die” – it was his name.
That had me in fits of disbelieving laughter long enough for the plane to land.
It was Michael Jackson.
So wherever you are Michael, my knight in shining armour, thank you.