Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Use caution when opening the overhead bins... contents may have shifted during flight.

I spent less than 2 hours on the ground at SFO yesterday night, all but 25 minutes on one taxiway or another. Despite my short sojourn there, I had many adventures (of the Chesterton1 sort.) I managed to retrieve my carry-on2 a moment before it vanished into the maw of SFO's baggage handling; I got lost looking for my ever changing departure gate3; and I got my head bashed by a small marble statue (I think that may have been the culprit) which fell, you guessed it, from the overhead bin.

After a mad dash across SFO and to the international terminal, I was almost the last person on the plane. I was grateful to find enough open bin space to stash my book-crammed carry-on, dropped into my seat, bent over to tuck my daypack under the seat in front of me and suddenly stars bloomed. When they vanished, the young man from the row ahead of me had in hand a small marble statue (roughly the size of a 16 oz can of peaches -- why I thought of peaches when this happened, I cannot hope to tell you) caught before it hit the floor. Not alas, before it had hit my head. Clearly one should exercise caution around open bins period, regardless of whether we've been aloft yet or not.

The flight originated in New Zealand. There are many tired and cranky people on board who would like nothing better to get to Philadelphia. By the time the flight attendants are fully apprised of all this, we have pushed back from the gate. Am I OK? Do we need to go back to the gate (please God, no, I can almost hear the chorus of thought bubbles around me wailing)? A large ice bag, and checks from the flight attendant while we waited in the long, long line for take off, and many prayers (on my part certainly and I'm willing to bet on many of my fellow passengers' parts) and the decision is made to go.

I can't tell you how glad I was to see Victor this morning. And my own MD.4

1. "An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesteron's definition of an adventure (from a column he wrote on the spectacular flooding in his London neighborhood)
2. The tiny plane I took from near my dad's can't accomodate carry-ons larger than a small briefcase. You leave your carry-on as you get on the plane and retrieve them when you get off. I got off, everyone else's bag was there, but no sign of mine. I flagged down a guy on the ground crew, who queried the baggage handlers, who dug through the checked bags loaded for transfer, wherein they found my bag. I now have 5 minutes less to make my (very tight) connection, but I have my bag and I am thankful! Traveling mercy number one.
3. Who knew that the flight to Philadelphia would be leaving from the international terminal? It had 3 gate changes between the time I boarded in San Luis Obispo and finally located the gate in the other terminal.
4. Who reminded me about Liam Neeson's wife (who died of a head injury that at first had seemed minor) and assured me that nothing like that would ensue; I told her that until she said that, I hadn't remembered the story. Another traveling mercy to be grateful for.


  1. This sounds so very painful. Sorry to hear that you got dropped on.

  2. Well, I am very glad that you are home, safe and checked out!!

    I hope all those fine folks from New Zealand enjoy their stay in Philadelphia, and that you continue the joy of your retreat!

    Much love.

  3. Oh Michelle! Ouch! Prayers and so glad that you are home, but sorry that your journey was marked with such events.

  4. Michelle, I'm glad the injury was nothing serious!

  5. It was an adventure, that's for sure. I'm glad that my brains were only temporarily rattled, but I could probably do without the "swelled head" jokes!

  6. Hope head/brain are doing well. I am curious as to what the statue was of... A saint?