Retro Post – Trapped at 30,000 Feet!

I was a blogger before the term even existed. According to Wikipedia, the term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. The short form, “blog,” was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999. I wrote this and posted it on on September 30, 1997. Here it is, verbatim. Formatting and graphics the same as they were 15 years ago.

Yeah, I like to live on the bleeding edge.

Trapped at 3000 Feet! – 09/03/97

When I actively search for excitement, I rarely find it. It’s only when I’m twiddling my thumbs, minding my own business, that excitement takes me by surprise. I’m on a plane traveling to Atlanta, and not five minutes ago, I got stuck in one of the airplane restrooms. No lie.

Airplane Restroom

I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs, but I was minding my own business, when I saw that the line for the bathrooms had finally dwindled and it looked like I might get a turn. Taking advantage of the situation, I jumped up and jetted toward the front of the plane. A flight attendant said, “It’s open”. I flashed him a smile of gratitude and squeezed myself through the door.

I did what I needed to do… blah blah blah, decided it was time to leave and reached for the door. The handle turned but the door wouldn’t budge. “That’s strange,” I thought. I turned the handle the opposite way and leaned on the door again. Nothing.

“It must be me,” I decided.

Several more times I turned the knob and pushed. Each time the door would rattle a bit but not open. Thinking that maybe I had consumed one too many glasses of wine, I convinced myself that the door would not open because of some fault of my own. Obviously, I had temporarily forgotten the mechanics of door opening. I was sure, that through trial and error, the door would eventually swing open to reveal flight attendants laughing at me and my poor door opening skills.

This did not happen, though. I rattled. I shoved. I made deals with God. Nothing worked. Finally, I had to resign myself to knocking on the door and feebly crying, “Help…” No one heard me. “Help, please?” With each cry for attention, my embarrassment grew. After 4 calls, someone finally heard my pleas and attempted to assist me. (For those of you who are saying to themselves, “Uh duh… you could ‘ve just rung the button to call the flight attendant.” Thanks for the advice. I’ve heard that 20 times now. At the time, I did not know there was a button. I didn’t look around and assess the situation. Panic was setting in. I WANTED OUT!”)

The woman, bless her heart, gave that knob tugs that nearly tore the whole door from the frame, yet still it wouldn’t open. She yanked and pulled for about a minute before she yelled, “Don’t go anywhere! I’m going to find some help!”

“Umm… okay.” Don’t go anywhere???

I started to calculate how many hours the flight still had left. 3 1/2. Way too long to be trapped in a restroom. Let alone, a restroom that is 2 feet by 2 feet and smelly to boot!

Before long, I heard muffled voices and several attempts were made to open the door. The roar of the plane engines drowned out all intelligible words, however, I got the feeling that at least 4 people “on the outside” were now involved in my rescue. A man yelled, “When I say go, kick the door!”

“Gladly!” I yelled back.

“One,… two,… three,… GO!” WHAM WHAM WHAM! I put a lot into those kicks. Even landed on the toilet due to the force of the third one, but the door didn’t budge. Fearfully, I contemplated how I might entertain myself the next 3 1/2 hours. Would I be able to hear the movie? What about my dessert? Would they figure out a way to get me my dessert? Could they maybe slide a complimentary deck of cards through the ashtray? I held my head in my hands and tried to forget that I had a mild case of claustrophobia.

By this time, my not-so-successful rescuers had resorted to kicking the door from their side. I sat on the toilet (the cover was down), scrunched my knees to my chest, and tried to fight the rising panic. “One hundred bottles of beer on the wall, one hundred bottles of beer…”

Suddenly, the door swung silently open. This was very much to my astonishment and also to those staring at me based on their stunned silence. A large piece of gray metal clanked to the floor. I didn’t wait to see what it was. I bolted out of my cell, pushed past my rescuers, snatched a chocolate sundae off the rolling cart, and headed for my seat.

Which, is where I will remain the rest of this flight, despite any protests from my bladder. How long was I trapped in the airplane restroom? About 8 minutes. But let me assure you. Those were 8 long minutes.

6 insightful thoughts by 6 brilliant people

    • Kathy, these were the days when airlines points meant something. I was living in Atlanta at the time. Flew Delta. Flew enough that every other trip got bumped to first class. I was in first class when I got stuck in the bathroom. (Hence the sundaes.)

      There’s a part two to this story. My surreal evening was not over yet!

  1. a. this post rocks my face off. you have summed up why i am terrified of planes. all this, AND the fact that when something goes wrong (you made the case and point that IT WILL) you get the treat of falling 20,000 feet to your untimely death.
    b. i have give you the dang liebster award. like you need it. but you are getting it. i’m sure you know what the deal is, unlike me, because you have been blogging forever and are legit awesome.
    c. you can totally ignore that i did this. no one will ever know.

    • THanks, Brandy! It happened 15 years ago and I still think about it EVERY time I go into an airplane bathroom. I hold my breath just a little bit each and every time as I reach for the sliding bolt that will once again give me my freedom!

Leave a Reply to Sue Diamond-Phillips Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>