Don’t you just love vacation — the relaxation, the fun times, the friends, the new adventures, the memories made. I love vacations. Coming home from vacation, not so much. And not just because coming home means returning to the daily grind. Returning from vacation has proven to be a very dangerous thing for me. (Remember that time I got lost, missed my plane, got sick, broke my toe, and on and on?) Perhaps I should just stay on vacation. Sounds good to me.
A few years ago I was flying home from vacation and was seated in a window seat next to an old man who had an oxygen tank and breathing tubes. I had a sore throat, so when the flight attendant began serving beverages I requested hot tea. In case you didn’t know, hot tea can cure any ailment. It can also set your legs on fire. I’m not sure what happened–maybe the flight attendant didn’t set the drink down properly, maybe I bumped the drink, maybe a puckish fairy snuck in and pushed it over. Whatever it was, my cup of scalding hot tea went from the flight attendant’s hands to rest briefly on the tray before making a tragic turn into my lap. My legs were on fire! The water had just been boiled, and the heat was searing through my pants. I was in agony. It was so painful that I couldn’t speak or even scream. My mouth was gaping open, but there was no sound coming out. I looked like a crazy fish. My first instinct was to pull the fabric of my pants (which was soaked in hot tea) away from my skin. But I couldn’t move–I was strapped in with a seat belt and held in place with the lowered tray table. Beyond that, I was blocked into the row by a man with an oxygen tank who couldn’t move.
I couldn’t make a sound, much less call the flight attendant back, and I began bucking in the seat, trying to get the tea off. Eventually the person in front of me turned around to figure out what the heck I was doing. Apparently she didn’t like me pulling and pushing her seat all over the place. When she realized what was going on she immediately called for the flight attendant. The woman assessed the situation, then helped the poor old man out of his seat before helping me climb out of my seat and walk to the bathroom. By the time I closed the door on the tiny washroom and was able to peel off my pants, my skin was covered in blisters. The flight attended brought me an ice pack–which is a fancy way of saying “she grabbed a large trash bag, filled it with ice, and shoved it through the door.” I was in so much pain I didn’t want to move again, but unfortunately, the plane was now making its descent. It had taken so long to get me out of the seat, and now the flight crew was insisting that I get back in it.
I begged the attendant to let me just stay in the bathroom, but she wasn’t having it. So, I attempted (with a moderate measure of success) to position the giant trash bag full of ice onto both of my legs and still fasten my pants. An interesting look, I can assure you. Then I had to waddle out of the bathroom and back to my row, where they helped the old man out of his seat, I gingerly crawled in, sat on a wet cushion, and buckled up for landing.
As we touched down, the head flight attendant’s voice came over the loud speaker. She warned everyone that there was a passenger who needed medical treatment, and everyone was to stay seated until that passenger could be evacuated from the airplane. After we arrived at the gate, two flight attendants came back to our row and helped the old man stand up again. (The poor guy probably was scarred forever after flying next to me.) Everyone else in the plane assumed he was the one who needed the paramedics–he had an oxygen tank after all. But no, I was the fragile passenger who had to be seen by medics. I climbed out and the two attendants helped me walk to the front of the plane, where I was put in a wheelchair and rolled by paramedics to the nearest bathroom. (Apparently that is the preferred place of doing a medical exam in an airport.)
Once we arrived in the bathroom they found a cleaning lady and sent her in to clear out the bathroom, since both paramedics were male. Then they rolled me in and proceed to examine my injuries. They determined that I had second degree burns all over both of my legs, and that I should probably go to the hospital. Then they rolled me back out of the bathroom. A helpful airline staff member brought my luggage over and placed it in my lap. (IN MY LAP! I had burns all over my thighs! Was she insane?) I tried to move the suitcase off of my legs, as she proceeded to push me in the wheelchair to the airport exit. Then she left me outside, sitting in the wheelchair, to wait for my ride.
Ahh . . . if only I’d stayed on vacation.