The “Fasten Seat Belt” sign was still on. We seemed to be flying at altitude in a smooth and level fashion and I wondered if the flight crew simply forgot to turn it off. It happens. A lot. Having been a flight attendant, I didn’t want to be one of those people. I strive to be a considerate passenger, mindful of details such as hitting the correct button for the reading light and not punching the flight attendant call button instead.
Having missed my visit to the ladies’ room in the terminal — I had to go — badly. I trained my eyes on the illuminated sign, willing it to turn off. I was getting close to breaking the rule when I felt something hit my shoulder … something that smelled like vanilla and coconut. It was a pleasant smell reminding me of my happy days working on a boat in the Caribbean. My mind went to pristine white sand beaches and warm turquoise waters as I wiped the shiny liquid off my nylon jacket. Not having a napkin or paper towel handy I simply massaged the stuff into my airplane-dry hands thinking somebody had opened a bottle of hand lotion and the lotion popped out and shot over to me as commonly happens from containers under cabin pressure.
And then more drops fell onto my shoulder and started dripping down my jacket. What the … ??? Now it was getting serious. I looked up to see what was happening and SPLAT! Right in the eye! Was there a stowaway seagull hiding in the overhead rack? I wished I had a bandanna or a beach towel. Anything, because now it was stinging and my eye was on fire.
Off came the seatbelt! I started walking toward the rear of the aircraft. As the intensity of the burning increased, I picked up my pace until I broke into a run. The last time I ran down the aisle of an airplane was in the 1970s when I streaked a DC-10. Streaking was all the rage and I got roped into doing it with two other wild and crazy flight attendants. You may remember this from Flying High with Carole Jean, the book I wrote about flying with Trans International Airlines.
Breathless, I reached the back galley where flight attendants Marianne and Teresa were seated on their jumpseats waiting for the Fasten Seat Belt sign to go off. Barely able to speak, I frantically pointed at my eye, “paper towel!” I blurted. “Suntan oil got in my eye.”
They jumped into action in spite of looking a bit puzzled as to what the heck I was talking about. Marianne led me to the lavatory and said, “There are paper towels to your right, and flush out your eye in the sink. I’ll be right out here.”
I flushed, I patted, then flushed again. Whew! Now the stinging subsided and I could see okay, so I figured I was gonna live. When I exited I saw the First Aid Kit sitting open on the counter with a bulb syringe, gauze and bandages spread out. “I don’t need that. I’m fine!” I told Marianne and Teresa that something was dripping from the overhead rack above my seat. They exchanged looks with big eyes. “We’ll get to the bottom of this!” said Marianne and they took off like two super-heroes on a mission.
A flurry of activity surrounded seat 11C as I watched from the rear of the plane. The flight attendants were having a heated conversation with a tall, strapping but gentle-looking young man who was seated in the row in front of me. As I approached my seat, the two flight attendants were quite attentive, making sure I was alright.
I was thinking what’s the big deal? Ohhhhh, maybe they were afraid they would have to make an emergency medical landing? Or maybe they were afraid I would sue them? Or maybe they thought there could be residual after-effects from the goop that went in my eye and it could be one of those airplane incidents that wreaked havoc?
All I know is they couldn’t do enough for me and they couldn’t have been more helpful or professional. When the service came around, I ordered a chicken wrap and a rum and coke. Well! I felt like Mr. Goldstone in the play Gypsy!
Have an eggroll, Mr. Goldstone.
Have a napkin, have a chopstick, have a chair.
Have a spare rib, Mr. Goldstone.
Any spare that I can spare I’ll be glad to share!
Have a dish, have a fork, have a fish, have a pork.
Put your feet up. Feel at home.
Have a smoke, have a Coke.
Would you like to hear a joke?
I’ll have June recite a poem!
After I was showered with goodies, Marianne asked Lillian, my delightful seatmate, “Would you like something to drink?”
She glanced in my direction, “I’m on the fence. Vodka-tonic or just tonic?”
“Vodka-tonic!” I cried. “We’re drinking here.”
She laughed. We toasted. She said, “The fumes from that stuff are so strong I’m getting a headache just from breathing it. How’s your eye?”
“Fine. Really. But, I’m kind of a badass,” I smiled.
“I noticed. You get Vape Oil liquor in your eye and you say, ‘eh, whatever.’ ”
“Vape oil? What?! Vape oil? I thought it was suntan lotion. Vape oil – well that’s a whole different thing. Get the stretcher!” And I grinned.
Just then the perpetrator stood up (his head almost touching the top of the plane), looked me in the eye, and in a soft voice said, “I’m terribly sorry, ma’am. I hope you’re okay. I’ll be more careful in the future. Forgive me.”
Looking back I can understand why everybody was so concerned. Remember the woman who spilled hot coffee on herself and then sued MacDonald’s and won a ton of money? Stranger things have happened.
Me? I just think it’s funny. And gives me plenty of fodder for writing Carole Jean’s Capers.
Speaking of which – I did something on WordPress that erased some of my followers on Facebook. If you want to receive my blogs directly in your email, send me your address and I will add you to my list. firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!