Life in New Zealand
Author: Inventunus

Chapter 5
The Flight

I love flying. The best part is stepping off the exit platform onto terra firma. All the preceding bits I just bear as best I can. It’s worth retelling one such flight for several reasons, all of which escape me at the present.

At Auckland International Airport my family farewelled me, my Dad giving me a cell-phone as a going-away present. I’d never had one of these before so I was anxious to see how it worked and from what remote part of the earth I could send messages. I’d just completed ticketing formalities and heading for the farewell door when I suddenly remembered I’d forgotten to put my toothbrush in the hand baggage. Rushing back to the ticket desk, I was just in time to see the suitcase I wanted halfway along the conveyor belt, on its way to the packing room.

The stewardess had disappeared and, as this was an emergency, I leapt over the counter and ran along the moving belt.  I would have won the race because I got my hand to the suitcase in time. However, due to its weight (being packed full of sun-block cream and bottles of sprite) I couldn’t lift it off the belt. What happened next is pretty hazy. The last thing I remember is watching the suitcase disappear through a suitcase sized hole and my forehead hitting the top rim of this hole. Then everything went black.

In my semi-conscious state, we seemed to fall down a huge slide, objects crashing all around me. Before I knew it we were on another conveyor belt, slipping silently into the dark hold of the plane. Here in my groggy state I watched an automated robot pack me between upright suitcases. Still dazed, a massive bump growing on my forehead, I lay still contemplating my predicament.

If you’re ever in similar circumstances, the best advice I can give is to keep your head. Though I would have gladly swapped mine for another at that moment. The next thing you should do is  finish the task you began to do before circumstances took the control away from you. With considerable difficulty, I managed to open the suitcase and, fishing round between sun-block cream and sprite bottles, at last found my toothbrush. I withdrew it carefully and tucked it safely into my shirt pocket. Then successfully closed the suitcase.

I was ready to leave the hold. The robot had disappeared for a while but I didn’t want to bother him lest he took offence to my being there. No ready solution came to mind so I opted to play a game of mental chess to sharpen my mental faculties, in the hope that a solution would present itself. Happily this was what occurred, though I admit I couldn’t get past “pawn to K4.”

A light-bulb shone in my brain. The cell-phone. 

Extracting it from my jacket pocket and feeling all the numbers, I decided I’d first dial 111 which in New Zealand is the number for all emergencies. The operator asked if I wanted fire engines, police or ambulance services. I didn’t want any of those so I thanked her and rang off. Obviously my situation wasn’t an emergency. That was good to know. Instead I phoned home to my Dad whom I reckoned must be getting home about now.

Dad was a little surprised to hear me on the other end so soon. I decided not to panic him so began with a little light conversation.

    “Hi Dad. It’s me. Murray. Great plane. You should see the size of the hold underneath too. Reminds me of Jonah and the whale!”

    “Where are you ringing from, Murray?” he asked, a little puzzled by my previous remarks.

    “Well,” I replied, trying to position the exact location. “Let’s see. Probably just below Row H3.”

    Dad sounded stricken so I concluded the phone call with some positive news. “Don’t worry, Dad. The good news is that the cell-phone you gave me works really well, even here. Thanks Dad. Bye!”  …Click.


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