Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Miracles at 34,000 Feet

And on the ground as well. Not sure which was more impressive. One was ordinary, if you happened to be in the right place at the right time, though spectacular. The other was... well, rare enough and so contrary to what I've seen of human nature that it may as well have been a miracle.

The two were different enough that you might not think they were connected, but the first led to a chain of events that ended in the second.

Monday Jordan and I flew down to Phoenix together. She had the window seat, I had the middle. A bit past midway through the flight the captain's voice came over the intercom, letting us know that while we lifted off on time, we were going to be about 45 minutes late landing. We'd had to detour south to the Texas panhandle before heading west. The reason was visible out the window on our side of the plane, a thunderstorm over Tucumcari. Also over whatever else we flew past for the next 25 minutes or so at about 500 mph. We were just about level with the cloud tops, and while it was late enough that the sky was pretty dark, just enough definition to tell the line of the top of the clouds, the nearly continuous lightning lit the clouds enough to keep us entranced while the show lasted.

Jordan had her smart phone with her and shot several sections of video of the displays, posting them on her Facebook page before we even left the plane. Those of you who know her should enjoy watching them. Please note that her phone camera shot a pretty wide angle so the view on  the screen severely minimized what we were really seeing.

The "real" miracle came later. Because we were running late, several passengers would be challenged in making their connecting flights that evening. We were requested to please remain in our seats so they could depart as quickly as possible. Those needing quick exit were asked for a show of hands, and the flight attendants noted that several were from the back of the plane.

If you fly enough, you have heard this request before on a late-arriving flight. I have.  It's never made a difference in my experience. Before the plane hits the gate half the passengers are standing in the aisle, hauling down their carry-ons, blocking anybody else's motion until they've gotten off themselves.

Not this time. That was the miracle. We all sat, politely waiting for those in need to get off. We waited for the flight attendants to ask if anybody else needed to catch a connector and finally inform us that all who needed to had now left. I don't know if any of them made their flights, but they were given the opportunity.

The flight crew told us we Phoenix people were awesome.

I agree. Mind you, not on my own behalf. I would have been waiting for a cleared aisle before standing anyway, so I could actually get out of there once my knees unkinked after sitting nearly 4 hours. By then my scooter would have been brought up to the walkway near the plane exit door and I could ride to the shuttle bus. It's the rest of the passengers who were awesome.

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