(By the way, note the end of the Leslie Street Spit curving out from the upper lefthand corner.)
I have a friend for whom the romance of travelling to far climes died out years ago. While he still enjoys vacationing overseas with his wife, Robert must frequently fly to Hong Kong or Thailand or Mumbai or Rome or Frankfurt or even Wisconsin on business. He has seen all sorts of shenanigans from all sorts of passengers on all lengths of flight in his time. Destinations? Terrific! Travelling? Terrible!
I thought I would share this little tale of the type of nonsense Robert has witnessed. The incident reminded me of a psychology prof’s warning that as we age, we don’t necessarily become better or worse, we simply become more the way we are.
All passengers were aboard the plane bound for Europe, but its takeoff was delayed for an hour. During this lull, an older woman in first class told one of the flight attendants that she had dropped her book.
Normally a dropped book would not present a great deal of trouble, but this woman’s seat was one of those newfangled pods down the side of which a slim object might disappear, never to re-emerge. The flight attendant apologized for the loss. The passenger, a doctor, did not accept the apology, but insisted on having the book retrieved; she was almost finished reading it, she said, and needed to learn its conclusion.
The space into which the book had disappeared was too narrow to insert an arm. Since the plane was still docked, the flight attendant slipped out onto the boarding bridge and returned with a cornbroom. She explained to anyone listening in first class — and they all were — that luckily one of the other personnel had ridden her broom to work that day.
Although the broom handle was narrow enough to reach the book, all it could do was bump against it. How to get some leverage? Away went the flight attendant to the bridge again, hoping for more inspiration. She found it, in the shape of a large white metal crank, used to manoeuver the accordion-canopy should the bridge control equipment malfunction. “We’ve got the pilot’s white cane now,” she smiled. “Let’s see if this will help.” Handing the crank to a co-worker, she picked up the cornbroom so that the two of them could work the implements like a giant pair of chopsticks.
Meanwhile, word had gotten out as to what book the doctor had lost. Since there was still plenty of time to kill, a third flight attendant made an announcement to the entire plane: “If anyone is carrying a copy of Robert Ludlum’s Road to Gandolfo, or has read it, could you please speak to one of the attendants.” This request proved popular, with many passengers offering up copies of one or another of Mr. Ludlum’s 27 novels, or standing ready to explain a plot from memory, but not, alas, of that particular story.
With two servants of the air working together, one with the metal crank and the other with the cornbroom, they were finally able to fish the paperback up through the slot until one of them plucked it out with her fingers. The whole first-class section broke into applause and cheers.
Everyone cheered, that is, except the novel-reading doctor. Grasping the precious rescued reading material, she inquired of the original flight attendant, “Now, what about the bookmark?”