THE PLANE TRUTH
Here’s a riddle for you… what has 200 legs, wet feet, and hides in a stairwell?
If you said, “100 airline passengers ordered to take shelter in a stairwell during a tornado warning,” you were right!! The rest of you… GET A CLUE!
Yep… there’s a first time for everything. And checking onto my flight from Omaha to San Diego, we experienced a first.
But wait… let’s back up… some of you may be new to us and our life. We are travelers, to put it mildly. Our ministry has had us travel over the years–couldn’t begin to say how many tens of thousands of miles. We traveled in cars, vans, trucks (in the cab, and in the bed and lying ON the cargo), SUVs, buses (both nice ones and er… “rustic/quaint” ones), trains, prop planes, jets, small aircraft (including a 4-seater with fabric body!), ocean liners, small boats, outrigger canoes, dugout canoes, jeepneys, motorcycle sidecars and hiking muddy trails and wading flooded rivers. And we’ve traveled everywhere from some of the world’s largest urban centers to the remotest jungle rain forest.
And oh, we’ve had our adventures, too! We’ve had delayed and cancelled flights… lots of ’em. Lost luggage? Of course! Once I got off a plane from Mongolia only to find I needed a visa to pass through China–even as a transit passenger continuing on to Hong Kong and Manila! Donna has been stranded on a dirt-road rural Philippine bus stop… on her own, with two small children in tow! I boarded one plane in Central Asia only to be told that the “battery is dead,” so I got to watch them “jump start it” before we took off to fly over the Gobi desert into a mile-high third-world city. I’m sure you’ve had that happen lots of times… sorry to bore you. Once on a transpacific flight, Donna had a drunk man try to negotiate marriage to Elisa (11 years old at the time).
But back to Omaha. We drove there from Donna’s mom’s little rural town in Iowa. Two hours on the highway, knowing there was threat of severe thunderstorms. In fact once we got into such rain that even slowing down to 5 mph, I couldn’t see a thing. Pretty scary when there’s on-coming traffic! Got to Omaha and walked up to the e-ticket check-in counter. Pretty routine to seasoned travelers like us. The machine spit out my boarding passes and we stepped aside to wait for the guy to call me up to get my luggage tags. In a few moment’s we’d be on our way to get some dinner before Donna brought me back to board my flight. WRONG!!!!
As we stood there, a siren went off outside (I’d say: sirens are not a good thing when you’re in a airport!) The counter personnel got all excited and explained how the siren indicated a temporary change in our lives. “There is a tornado warning. Everyone go immediately to the designated shelter areas until the all-clear. And stay away from windows!” Then in true TSA fashion, they added: “Keep your luggage with you at all times!”
EDITOR’S NOTE FOR OUR READERS FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: A mere tornado
“watch” means there are conditions which could produce a tornado; but actual
tornado “warning” means there actually IS one which has been sighted in the area!!
So we all had to drag our not-quite-checked baggage (“we” means us and everyone else who was checking in at all the various airline counters) and go to the “shelter.” Glancing at the forbidden “windows,” we saw solid sheets of water pummeling them as the wind drove the rain horizontally in powerful gusts. The shelter was the airport stair well (of course!!) So there we stood… some on the steps, some on the bottom landing, with rain water seeping in under the exit door, gradually pooling around people’s shoes. The more fortunate among us had our luggage up on the steps… the others kept nervously shifting their bags over as the water spread over the floor.
Well all good adventures come to an end (if they don’t end, they are more like “disasters,” I reckon) and we heard the all-clear and were allowed to leave our stairwell after about a half an hour of breathing the ever-more-stuffy air in that cramped space.
So now you know the story behind the answer to the riddle. And as for me, I could use a few less adventures.