'Good morning Peter!’ it was a very cultured voice that said this on the car phone.‘Oh, hello, Declan!’ I greeted my boss. And, treating him like a customer and, because I had a complicated intersection to negotiate, with heavy traffic, I added: ‘What can I do for you?’ I must have sounded somewhat tense because his voice sounded extra relaxed:
‘You are on a busy road, aren’t you!’
‘Actually, yes I am, Declan, in the middle of an intersection, trying to make a turn.’
‘Don’t let me stop you, Peter’ A casual laugh came from my car loudspeaker. ‘I just want to ask you to go to South Australia tomorrow. There is a new architect in Adelaide who wants to know more about the flooring products we have. I shall fax all the details to your home.’
‘Oh, thank you very much. Yes, I’ll take care of that.'
‘Right Peter, I leave everything in your good hands!’ Click and he was gone. And so was my opportunity to complete my right- hand turn and some cars behind me started to sound their car horns in irritation.
The following day my boarding the plane to Adelaide went without a hitch as Marilyn from my office had booked for me and my ticket was waiting at the airline’s airport counter.
The weather was beautiful, with a deep blue sky devoid of clouds. With an air of expectation I settled myself into my seat and routinely checked the pocket in front of me for the latest in-flight magazine. There were always articles which interested me: from far away places, with the latest designs in fashion, interesting products or pictures about the life-styles of the rich and famous. Just paging through the glossy pages never failed to transport me into a different world.
‘But why was the plane not taking off?’ I wondered. The passengers had all been seated quite a while ago, and, yet, it remained motionless. Becoming increasingly fidgety in my seat I started to observe my surroundings in more detail.
Most passengers on board were obviously business people, in suits and ties and on the other side of the aisle there was a sports team, with tall, burly young men and their manager somewhere between them.
Nearby was an air hostess, stunningly beautiful; her hair style and face was that of a classic Hollywood actress with a figure to match. She reminded me of the actress Grace Kelly and momentarily I forgot my impatience and my appointment in Adelaide. ‘Why did such a creature become an air hostess when she could be an actress or a top model?’ I asked myself.
She smiled across a row of seats to a young man in a window-seat and I started to concentrate on their conversation.
‘Will you, please, apologise for your remark?’ she smiled at him as if in reply to a compliment.
‘F… you! Get that bloody plane going, you c…’ The young sportsman had blond, closely-cropped hair and when trying to stand up, it turned out that he was too drunk to do so, leading him to fall back into his seat. All this team mates seemed to agree with him and muttered similar expletives.
The airline Venus showed no emotion. She looked at him with her beautiful blue eyes and her sweet lips whispered softly:
That young man’s face got a shade redder and his eyes bulged with hostility: ‘Get that f….. plane in the air you b…’
Again his mates supported him and the air became blue with expletives.
Was this woman real or a mirage? She showed no effects whatsoever but gently leant into the row of seats towards the culprit.
‘Get off the plane!’ She smiled at him as if he was the only man in the world!
‘S…. are you getting this f…. plane flying or not? What a c…. you are.’
And, again, he was supported by a chorus of shouted words that would make a sailor’s tattoo blush!
During a break in all that commotion, I could make out her gently uttered words:
‘The plane is not leaving with you on board!’ She gracefully nodded reinforcement to her statement.
I looked around the other passengers. The sports people were obviously too intoxicated to perceive reality, they kept the stream of swearwords coming out of their cake-holes. The rest of the plane just sat there with vacant faces conveying apathy.
A feeling of rage overcame me as no employee should be exposed to such a situation. I tried to stand up in support of this lady and had a lot to say about rat bags and riff-raff but was stopped by a restraining hand on my shoulder. Spinning around there was an air steward standing behind me who obviously could read my body language and forestalled my participation.
Smiling at me reassuringly, he calmed me down and made me sit down again.
Glancing at the situation, there was suddenly the pilot calmly explaining to the culprit that the plane simply would not leave with him on board.
‘Furthermore, I have called the airport police - they are on the way now!’ Still, it had no effect, neither on this man nor on his mates.
Sure enough, two stern looking officers in dark blue overcoats appeared and without ado, they asked the man for his airline ticket. This was given to them after much fumbling and was immediately pocketed out of sight. The man now had no ticket!
‘Come with us!’ This command was shouted and strong arms reached out in an attempt to yank him from his seat.
Slowly, as if in a dream, the young man heaved himself out of his seat and staggered to the aisle. There, he was grabbed and, more dragged than walked, forced to leave the plane.
The captain, now showing his disgust in his face, offered an invitation to the other young lads: ‘Anybody else want to leave the plane?’
I do not know what went on their minds, if they were thinking at all, but it was suddenly very quiet. Too quiet.
Although I had a feeling of triumph, after all, justice had prevailed, and civilisation and good manners had been reinstated, I still would have expelled the manager or leader of this group as well because he clearly did not exercise control over the group he was responsible for.