High (Altitude) Jinx, Epilogue

My family flew with two airlines on our recent trip.  Fortunately, the bird strike happened with the second, because the first might have charged us an inconvenience fee for the experience of being imperiled.  The second, on the other hand, was entirely helpful.

When we got back to the airport, all of the passengers rushed off of the plane so that they could schedule a different flight.  Meanwhile, all of the facts that made my family’s early boarding necessary guaranteed that we couldn’t rush anywhere.  We were the last passengers on the plane, the last into line, and the last to make alternate arrangements.  We did it all while trying to comfort a groggy toddler, even.

That sort of inconvenience doesn’t bother me though, because I realize the people who really deserved to be upset were the ones who worked at the airplane reservations counter.  Their peaceful morning was ended abruptly by two hundred angry former travelers.

As the harbinger of airplane trouble that I am, I’ve had opportunity to stand in a few of these lines.  I’m always impressed by the rabid frenzy into which otherwise decent human-beings descend when their travel plans hit a snag.  They always attack the people trying to help them too, as though the airline employees had arranged the entire situation because of an unfathomable personal vendetta.

In the specific case of our doomed flight, I guess the angry people figured that someone from the airport had deliberately thrown a bird into our plane’s engine.  Maybe it involved one of those clay pigeon launchers that the Olympics used in the skeet shooting competition, except one that fired actual pigeons.  Perhaps the flight crews participate, trying to hit the pigeons just like the Olympic skeet shooters, except with planes instead of guns.

Actually, come to think of it, the real question is this:  how is skeet shooting an Olympic sport?

Either way, an angry throng of bird-addled passengers swarmed the reservations counter and yelled at the innocent employees for about two hours.

Those employees deserve praise though.  They never grew impatient themselves, never lost their tempers or let the accusations affect them.  They kindly and efficiently helped every single person in line, and always had a smile ready for the next.  They didn’t seem insincere, either.  After watching them the entire time, I wanted to give them some sort of delicious snack as a reward.

Unfortunately, by that time my daughter had eaten all of our delicious snacks.  Also, she’d found an unexpected variety of trouble to pursue.

There is one thing in the world that my daughter might love more than her mother and me: dogs.  Most of our neighbors have them, so she discovered them early and has always adored them.  She’s usually content to point at them and excitedly babble, “Totty!  Totty!  ‘Ood, ‘ood!”  (Translation:  “Doggy!  Doggy!  Woof, woof!”)  When a dog walks nearby however, she demands a more direct course of action.

I think she feels the need to tell the dog that it’s a dog, the same way that she denounces garbage cans by standing over them and scolding, “Yuck yuck!”  She’ll run up to the dog, try to get eye to eye with it, and say, “Totty!”  We try to stop her, but she’s willful, wily, and stronger than you might expect.  Also she has some sort of special radar for detecting dogs.  She always sees them before me and vanishes before I know to be wary.

In the airport the dog she saw was part of the local police K9 unit.  I’m not sure why it was there.  I can understand wanting to keep police around just in case one of the angry passengers became unruly, but aren’t police dogs mostly used for detecting contraband?  Did the police think that, during our brief time aloft, someone might have decided to smuggle some cloud or sky (or possibly bird carcass) back to earth?

You may not know this, but people aren’t allowed to pet police dogs.  When I was told, I thought, “That seems unfair to the poor dog.”  My wife thought, “I wonder why?”  My daughter thought, “Totty!  Totty!  ‘Ood, ood!” and ran after the police dog anyway.

She kept us busy.  One of us stayed in line holding all of our bags–we haven’t figured out how to travel lightly with a child yet, so that person (me) carried a lot–while the other chased our excitable little darling.

Fortunately the police officer seemed to understand, so he kept the dog moving and out of reach, but that just made it look like our daughter was threatening.  Granted, she could probably crush a good size dog with one of her enthusiastic hugs, but we try not to advertise that.  If she did crush it, she’d probably bring it to me so that I could kiss it and make it better.

I get all the good jobs.


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