A few weeks ago, my wife opened a beer in the kitchen. Ordinarily, that means that things are fairly normal in the
On a recent flight to
Shortly after take-off (we couldn’t have been 100 feet in the air yet) a loud, screeching, ear piercing wail of a noise could be heard above all else. I’m sensitive to noise anyway and it was driving me crazy. I looked all around and everyone was reading, or sleeping, or otherwise preoccupied. My wife (who was with me on this particular trip) saw my increasing agitation and when I asked, “Do you hear that??” She just told me not to cause any trouble and to settle down. I glared at the flight attendant and after making eye contact; I raised my hands and shook my head in a “What the hell is that noise” type of gesture. He got up, walked to the back, shut off the noise and came back to my seat to report, “It was only the smoke alarm.”
Smoke alarm?? We were approaching 10,000 feet and the smoke alarm was going off and I was the only one who seemed the least bit bothered by this? Fire is a bad thing on an airplane, right? Finally, the pilot announced, “Folks you might have heard a high pitched noise back there,” (duh), “I just wanted you to know that there’s no cause for alarm. Sometimes a bit of the de-icing fluid makes its way through an inlet back there and when it comes into contact with some of the hot engine parts, it smokes up. That smoke gets sucked into the lavatory through a fan and well, it sets off the smoke alarm from time to time. Have a nice flight.”
So… there’s no fire, just burning fumes from the de-icing fluid and enough smoke in the bathroom to set off the alarm. No big deal. I guess. I was a bit agitated and I wasn’t sure what bothered me more, the exposure to the fumes, the loud noise, or the benign, lackadaisical attitude of the 50 passengers who seemed completely indifferent to what was going on around them. I guess that in the end, it was better than having some deranged woman seeing a bit of smoke and screaming “FIRE” at the top of her lungs.
So, in this post-terrorist attack era of commercial flight; don’t let yourself get too hypnotized by the routine of air travel. Keep one eye in your book, one ear in your iPod, and keep your senses a little bit tuned to your surroundings and if the beer explodes, clean it up for pity-sakes!
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