I’m not a big pill popper at the best of times, but recently after finding a lump under my arm (nothing serious) and a last minute scheduled flight to Edinburgh, I was a little stressed. Based on this, my doctor prescribed me some Valium, a little bit of sensory deprivation he called it ‘in a bottle’ for my long haul flight.
Previously the only thing that had kept me sane on while ‘flying’ thousands of miles in air was the idea that on board my flight was the cure to AIDS and my ‘miracle’ flight was going to be ok, cause the world needed to be ok; that the pilot had an important dinner date he needed to keep at the other end, promise he’d made to his little girl that he’d be home for Christmas/ her birthday/ that school play – and he was going to honour that promise no matter what, because no matter where he was in the world he lived for her happy days and to keep that blood oath he’d made to her on the day she was born, that he’d always be there to see her face when she opened her presents on Christmas day/ her birthday…you get the idea, and is wife would be there too and she’d smile, a smile that said ‘you’re a good man’.
The pilot’s story would unfold in more detail as I made it closer to my destination, but with the recent spate of planes being pulled out of the air, I was concerned that my pilots wife had found out about 6 year old on and off affair he’d been having with a ground crew member in Hong Kong and now they were involved in a bitter custody dispute over their daughter – about where she got to spend Christmas, and maybe he had begun to think that without those Christmas/ birthday mornings he had nothing left to live for anymore. Valium was my only hope in making it to Edinburgh – I could only rely on myself from now on.
I’ll say at this point – I think it’s not wise to take a pill before entering customs, where upon getting through passport control you draw attention to yourself when both of your comfy and functional flight shoes fall off and you fall over them and fall on a customs official.
‘If you could just step over here with us madam’
‘It’s ok really, I’ve just taken a pill and it’s gone to my head’
‘You’ve taken a pill?’
‘Yeah, in case the pilot decides he can’t go on anymore’
‘Are you saying there is something wrong with this flight?’
‘Oh, I think I know what this is about – I’m not a terrorist’
‘Why would you say terrorist?’
‘I always get stopped at airports under suspicion’
‘You’ve been stopped before under suspicion of terrorism?’
‘It’s sorted now, Interpol got rid of the flag next to my name’
‘Ok, madam if you’d like to accompany us this way’
‘But I’ve got a flight to catch.’
‘You’ve just admitted to Australian customs officers that you were once detained by Interpol under suspicion of terrorism.’
‘You’ve taken it all out of context, this always happens’
‘I wasn’t detained – I was flagged, and anyway it was a mistake – it was to do with some fraud charges I was supposedly facing – but it’s cool, the embassy got involved and the safe house they put me in was cool.’
‘Madam would you like a legal representative present?’
‘No – I just need to get on this flight’.
‘And why this flight in particular?’
‘I bought a non-refundable ticket’
‘So you’re not coming back’
‘I think you’ve got it confused with a one-way ticket’
‘Don’t play smart’
‘I was just trying to help – and anyway my buzz is about to wear off so I need to hop on that plane’.
‘Do you really think you’re fit to fly?’
‘I’m fine – maybe it’s your captain you should be concerned about…’
‘Captain Stokes is a fine captain.’
‘I’m sure he is…. but tell me, has he told you about this wife?’
‘We didn’t know he was married’
‘He’s going through a bitter custody battle right now…won’t even be able to make it home for Christmas’.
‘We didn’t even know he had a kid’
‘You weren’t to know, how could you? It’s the kinda thing a man keeps bottled up. He’s just trying to save face. Imagine the unrelenting isolation he’s going through right now, coming to terms with the fact no one loves him, needs him or adores him anymore.’
‘His passengers need him’.
‘Do they? Or will we be mid air when it hits him that he never wants anyone to have to feel the pain he is feeling and so in one final act of trying to save humanity from itself he plunges one of your planes into the ground.’
Subsequently my flight to Edinburgh was detained as they led a confused Captain Stokes off the plane – in shackles for this own safety – I hated being right some of the time (even if now was not one of those times).
I hoped for his sake he was married with a young daughter that might love him again in time for Christmas.