Sunday, January 24, 2021

Fear of Flying

Zoë Sharp

Imagine for a moment that you’re in an airport departure lounge (if your memory stretches back that far). You are waiting to get on a flight. You’re a little nervous, however, because only a week or so ago, an armed group of people attempted to hijack the very same flight.


They wrecked the plane and stole bits of it.


Five people died in the course of the exercise.


(Many of them claimed the pilot had invited them on board.)


But today you are somewhat reassured to notice that the airport has installed another set of metal detectors before the jet-bridge leading to the aircraft.


Your flight is called. The passengers begin to line up in front of the metal detectors. Some of the passengers are sitting on the left side of the plane and some on the right side of the plane. At the moment, there are slightly more passengers on the left side than on the right side.


Some of the passengers are not happy about being asked to comply with this new level of security, saying they were not consulted about the decision to install the devices.


“You’re taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be, and you guys did it without any consultation,” one of them yells, going on to call the metal detectors “bullshit.”


Another passenger shouts at the security staff manning the detectors to “get back” and “don’t touch me.”


Yet another passenger refuses to go through the detectors and skirts around instead. “You can’t stop me,” he sneers. Ten other passengers follow suit and bypass the metal detectors.


The next passenger obligingly passes through the detector, but when it goes off he refuses to be searched. “Nah,” he says, “I’m not going to do that.”


The next passenger in line also sets off the detector and he does agree to be searched. When a (presumably legal) concealed handgun is found in his jacket pocket, he asks a colleague to hold the gun while he gets on the plane.


(The colleague refuses on the grounds that he doesn’t have a firearms licence.)


The next passenger is a woman who has been telling everyone that she has a loaded handgun as she is small in stature and that crime is “skyrocketing.” She dismisses the installation of the metal detectors as “a stunt” and refuses to allow her bag to be searched.


A further passenger claims the detectors are impeding the ability of passengers to board the plane and that they have been “strictly designed” for this purpose. “We now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals,” adds another female passenger.


A number of passengers who had been aboard the hijacked flight claim they saw other passengers giving reconnaissance tours to the hijackers, the day before the incident took place. They have signed a letter to the airline to this effect. These alleged tour-guide passengers are being allowed to board the plane today without restriction or investigation.


A BAME passenger who was on the hijacked flight was concerned that other passengers with racist tendencies would particularly point out her location to the hijackers. Strangely, all the emergency call buttons in the row in which she was sitting had been disabled prior to the hijack, so she was unable to call for help.


Another female passenger who was on the hijacked flight tells a TV reporter that she is nervous about boarding a flight where her fellow passengers are armed. The TV reporter suggests that the armed passengers might simply be trying to keep everyone on board safe. “I don’t really care what they say their intentions are,” she replies. “I care what the impact of their actions are and the impact is to put 435 (passengers) in danger … it is absolutely outrageous that we even have to have this conversation.” 


What about you? Will you get on that flight?


This week’s Word of the Week is grawlix, meaning to replace a swearword with a string of typographical symbols, such as @$&%£*!, especially used in comic strips. The invention of the word was credited to the late cartoonist, Mort Walker.


  1. Wait. This hypothetical plane flight sounds vaguely familiar. I'd SWEAR I read a book, or saw a movie, or SOMETHING, with that EXACT same plot.

    Give me a minute, I'm sure it will come to me...

    1. Really? And I'd thought I'd made it all up...
      (stands with hands in pockets, whistling)

  2. Nah. It couldn't be fiction. Fiction has to be believable!
    Brilliant, Zoe!

    1. Thanks, Michael. Yeah, too fantastical to ever be true fiction...

  3. Poor me. I am already on board, and the doors are locked. In the words of Bette Davis, “ Fasten your seatbelts, boys. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.” What Michael said!

    1. There are always the over-wing exits and the emergency slides, Annamaria, lol

  4. Zoë, that's absolutely brilliant. You should submit it to the NY Times, Washington Post, and WSJ. It perfect for one them. By the way, there's now another Zoe in my live (absent the umlaut). My niece just gave birth to Baby Zoe!

    1. Thanks, Jeff, but I have a feeling that might end badly...
      Congratulations on the arrival of another Zoe. How appropropriate for someone with so many Greek connections, as it's the Greek version of Eve, meaning Life

    2. Just to put a finer point on my new grandniece's choice of name--in relation to all things i zoi--her father's surname is the Romanized version of the Greek God Dionysus.

  5. Brilliant! I agree with Jeff S. above.

  6. The worst part is that I completely believed the first part of the story until it got really similar to recent events... sad, really, that regarding guns, we're more than ready to believe all sorts of stupid things from Over There.