I started this morning at 4:30 am with anticipation. For the first time in a few years, I was going to travel interstate for work!
I had been mentally preparing for this event having packed medications and RATs first into my bag. After hearing the horror stories of airport mayhem with lack of staff and lost baggage, I packed one back pack with enough clothes and all my needs for the next six days in Brisbane and all less than 7 kilos. I figured that I don’t want to be wasting time checking in baggage or lugging heavy things with me. I would have to make do with the absolute minimum.
As is always the case, these early times mean a taxi to the airport. The train station is too far for me and besides, I don’t like travelling on trains in the dark. Also, I don’t use Ubers (nor do I ever want to) but after today’s shocking taxi ride, I may have to reconsider.
The old taxi driver was hard of hearing and he was a lead foot. He was doing 120 km/ph in 80 zones and veered all over the road not sticking to one lane. What got me white knuckled was that he overtook FROM THE LEFT, (he did this a few times) into the path of merging traffic. I told him to slow down a couple of times and his turns were anything but smooth. He jerked his turns. There were times when I thought he was going to scrape the taxi against the wall, turning it at the last minute. I took his number down to report him – he was a danger and I sat in the back seat utterly panicked. In hindsight, next time, I’ll just tell them to stop but as I was on the freeway, I figured stopping on the freeway was just as dangerous.
Then on my flight to Brisbane, all was going well until drinks were served.
I had my cup of water and a cup of coffee in front of me and made a mental note to hold them both, one in each hand in case of turbulence. Within seconds of thinking this, the otherwise calm plane hit an air pocket so sudden, that all drinks flew up above our heads and smashed on the tables in front of us.
I was drenched! A collective groan from the cabin and some swearing.
Initially I was in shock but there was a lady a few aisles in front of me screaming that ear piercing scream. That’s what got to me – not the turbulence but the screaming. I hadn’t heard anything like it before (actually no, I have. That one time when Pud the cat got a fright and jumped with his claws out onto my ear while I was asleep. That was a decent scream from me).
People were trying to clean up the mess everywhere – and here she was still screaming and I was thinking, “please just stop” although knowing full well it was simply, her body’s reaction to fear. When you get a sudden shock, some people just yell it out and can’t stop the automatic response. It’s instinctive.
It’s funny how I reacted.
The lady next to me instantly asked me and the passenger next to her if we were alright.
My first reaction was looking at the coffee and water all over me – silent but in a daze – then I looked to the lady diagonally opposite me on the aisle just watching her. I was in some kind of a daze. Like time stopped? After a few moments, I snapped into it, realising I had napkins in my hand and automatically I just started wiping up our tables and repeatedly saying “I’m ok. Im good. I’m ok. I’m good. I’m ok.”
It took some moments to grasp what had happened. I found strange that there was absolutely no announcement made by the pilots, no apologies, no explanations. The stewards came by much later on just before the plane started it’s landing, with napkins in hand as they abandoned the food and drink service to “fill out the paperwork because of the incident” I overheard one of them say.
Everything about the flight was slightly off kilter.
Tonight at the hotel when I checked in, there was an emergency in one of the rooms so there was no one at reception for at least 20 minutes.
The bar area was entirely open, we could have gone behind it and served ourselves alcohol – not a soul about with only a sign saying “reception unattended due to emergency” and three of us just waited patiently until the poor flustered lady came in holding the biggest first aid kit I’ve seen in my life. She was apologising profusely and she managed to check us in despite the glaring from a couple of people.
She then mentioned to me that their kitchen isn’t open, restaurant is closed, there’s no breakfast service, no room service and to top it off, no restaurants or cafes nearby. (This is the reason I never travel at night. The risk of venturing out after dark in an unknown place in search of something to eat is a no-no for me as there’s little time to scope out your surroundings. (If push came to shove, I could eat my chocolate gold coins I was carrying for a team activity I was running).
By this stage, I was starving and I had my French class starting in 30 minutes so I bolted to a nearby corner convenience store to buy some 2 minute noodles and some cheese and crackers. I made it in time for my French class!
I’m in Brisbane to spend the next couple of days at a team workshop. I’m looking forward to catching up with my colleagues and meeting new ones in person. For the first time travelling intestate, I do have some niggling anxieties about catching covid (I just don’t want to spend 7 days in a hotel. If I’m sick, I’d rather be home) however, today was utterly bizarre and out of the ordinary in so many ways.
It’s not the actual scare on the road or scare in the sky, it was me observing myself in situations that are beyond my control and how I react to them. It was as if those moments in time, I was completely not frozen – but in limbo. Waiting for my brain – or adrenalin – to kick in, to do the next step. It’s the moment, when you click on a key in your computer, and that hourglass turns over.
If anything, it’s making me realise that it’s too early to be travelling anywhere. I’d be crazy to believe things are back to where they were. They’re not. People also are a little NQR (not quite right), you can feel it. It’s a quiet fear of just wanting to get through the next minute, day or situation without anymore shocks.
Services are likely to be disrupted for a while due to lack of staff or people being affected or isolated by covid. My expectation of customer service should be lowered and I need to be patient. People are obviously overworked and stressed. If our life before covid was in “high res”, it’s showing me now that our life is pixelated.
It glitches every so often and many of us deal with the glitches in our own way.
Others want to scream it out, others want to take some of their own control back and do actions that gets things to some semblance of order (me cleaning), others look out for others first to check if they’re ok.