"The Captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt signs. Please ensure all seatbelts are fastened and all trays are secure in their upright position. We will be landing shortly so on behalf of Qantas, thank you for flying with us and we hope you enjoyed your flight."
The detached, almost robotic female voice coming from the intercom overhead closed up her speech, a faint buzzing sound invading my ears before the intercom was switched off. I blew out a breath, ruffling my bangs in the process. It had definitely been a long flight. Add in the overweight woman on my right who used me as her snugly pillow, even jabbing me in the ribs twice to tenderise me for maximum softness, and I was more than ready to get the hell off.
"Want some of my nuts?" the pimply teenage boy on my left said, offering me a half eaten pack of peanuts. When I shook my head for the umpteenth time, he sniggered, also for the umpteenth time at what he thought was an impressive display of sexual innuendo, and stuffed a handful into his mouth, chomping enthusiastically with his mouth open, bits of crushed nut tumbling from his gaping pie hole to land on his once white shirt. Accompanying the remnants of his flight snack was at least half a can of coke and the tartar sauce from his complimentary meal. Being the unfortunate person sitting next to him, I had been included in the spray of coke that burst out of his can when he shook it vigorously before popping the tab, wondering aloud if the inevitable spray of his drink would exceed a radius of one foot. It did.
Needless to say I had come this close to shoving the can down his throat while it was still fizzing, and had even imagined the entire scenario, where I would conveniently wonder aloud if an aluminium can preventing someone from breathing would indeed kill them or just impede their ability to talk.
His parents, who were seated behind us, slept through most of the trip, the sound of their snoring a cross between a fog horn and a freight train. So as well as my sticky t-shirt and soda drenched hair, I missed out on my usual eight hours of beauty sleep, instead jamming on a pair of headphones at full volume and struggling to hear the movie that was on replay. I tell ya, watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon five times with thunderous snoring as background noise only ensures that you memorise every facial that Duck-Face actress and Shia LaBeouf make throughout the entire movie, while missing every piece of dialogue save for the groaning and moaning of the Decepticons. So yep, all in all, fun times.
Which may be why I very nearly broke out into a chorus of hallelujahs when I felt the landing gear descend and then hit the runway, and all but mowed down an elderly couple who were taking their sweet time vacating the row in front of me. Yes, I suppose I should have taken into consideration the fact that Mister Elderly had a walking stick and Madam Elderly was sucking on her inhaler like it was candy and she was a five year old with a sugar craving, but come on! If they'd just spent the better part of twenty four hours in a tin can in my prime seating position, no bad hip or asthma problem would stop them from sprinting right off this hunk of junk.
Of course, as my luck would have it I was one of the first off the plane, only to be one of the last to collect my luggage. Don't think it was because it took me for ever to find the baggage claim. Oh, no, once I was off that plane, I was one of very few people walking with purpose, my stride long and fast - well as fast as any five foot four girl could manage without breaking into a headlong sprint.
One of very many perks when you have a father who's a pilot in the air force and a mother who's a doctor without borders is that both parents shuffle you between countries while trying to do their respective jobs at opposite ends of the world. So you name the airport, and I can pretty much verify that I've seen the inside of it at least once. And since all airports pretty much have the same layout, I'm proud to say I located the baggage carousel faster than a starving mouse seeking cheese on a mousetrap. And then I waited. And waited some more. Heck, even Mister and Madam Elderly hobbled on over, Grandma still sucking on her inhaler, Grandpa teetering and tottering on his polished walking stick, which I'm shocked to say bent a little under his weight. Must have been one of them new ones. They just don't make things like they used to. While I waited for my travel worn case to spew forth from the Gods of Luggage, I watched Mister Elderly scrabble for purchase on his own pristine suit case, heaving it out with a surprising amount of strength, almost clipping the poor fellow standing next to him before grabbing his wife by the arm and leading the way out. Who was holding the other up, it was hard to say.