I flew to Hawaii today. I’m not (just) telling you that to make you jealous, promise. I have a point. You had to know it was a flight to Hawaii so that you could understand it was a long distance flight (to Hawaii... did I mention that part?). Anyway, it was a 9.5 hour flight from Sydney, and it was with Jetstar, so it felt like it lasted for four days (for those who are not familiar with Jetstar, it is one of Australia’s budget airlines, so you pretty much BYO chair). And unlike most Jetstar flights, where I am entertaining myself by counting the OHS flaws, something INTERESTING happened on Jetstar Airbus JQ3 (to Hawaii...). Something so interesting, it created a bit of drama and left me grinning ear to ear about us two-legged creatures who speak words and eat plane food. Humans.
Humans are the shit.
It was nighttime (is that even relevant on an international flight? Nighttime sems to be man-made in a Jetstar Airbus) and most people were sleeping. (Except for those people I was jealous of who had forked out $18 for an iPad... I may have deemed it overpriced and unnecessary, but I was still jealous of the guy across the aisle watching The Hangover 3). It's a nice time on the plane when everyone is sleeping. I always get a sense of joyful togetherness, like I want to call out "'Night guys!! Sweet dreams!" when the lights go out, as if we were all at a slumber party and would be having homemade pancakes in the morning*. I am lucky to be a ninja napper, so I can sleep anywhere (if you think that's an understatement, you should know that if I'm tired, I will often nap on a park bench or under a tree. It's amazing I haven't been picked up by the police or the Salvation Army). But although I can sleep easily, I am a very light sleeper, and I was woken during the aeroplane-version-of-night by a commotion behind me. I turned with a few other people to see that, in the aisle on the other side, someone had fainted right near me. I couldn't actually see the Fainter, but I could hear others calling for help, and I determined from their cries that she was a girl of about ten. And then came the beautiful moment - all the humans in earshot leaped into action.
When someone faints, it's human nature at its most beautiful. Whether you're a person who loves drama or hates it, whether you're a leader who rushes forward or an observer who hangs back (and all types are important), "is there anything I can do to help?" is most likely going through your mind. As someone with a lot of experience in fainting (just ask any of my Uni friends), I can pretty much let you know that no, there is very little you can do to help. (What I can tell you, though, is that you should NOT try and stand them up. It’s okay to catch the Fainter – romantic, even... where the fuck where you when I kept fainting? – but their body is doing its’ best to force itself to lie down. Go with the flow and let it!)
On Jetstar Airbus JQ3, Everyone rushed to help. One man soaked tissues in water to put on our little Fainter’s forehead, another lady ran off to get a cup of water from the weird aeroplane tap thingy, and a few women starting calling out, asking if anyone had a spare bottle of water. Two men knelt down either end of her - as it turns out they were paramedics, coincidentally sitting nearby (good work, little Fainter, excellent choice of location). It was dark on the plane so everyone switched on their overhead lights so they could help the two men see. They were handling things in the calm, reassuring manner that paramedics** do, holding her hand and casually checking her heart rate. The Jetstar hosties finally came and joined the action. It would've been less than two minutes before they showed up, but it felt like forever. I was starting to worry the staff had left the plane, or at the very least stepped outside for a smoke, and us lowly passengers would be left to fend for ourselves (in which case I'd go straight for the $18 iPads).
If a hostie or a paramedic had told me to open a window, I would have tried. My obedience to authority is an instinct that runs deep and questions nothing. There is often a very clear order of authority in my mind, and a Jetstar Airbus JQ3 fainting incident is no exception. It goes:
- Pilot (he's probably my fav person on the plane every time. Unless we are doing that insanely annoying thing where the plane sits at the top of the runway for 15 minutes before taking off - I know he's probably waiting for air traffic or something important, but in my mind he's pulled over for a power nap).
- Co-Pilot (I keep him handy in case Pilot dies or needs a power nap).
- Paramedics or anyone who can save lives calmly and sexily.
- Hosties (because morbidly, I reckon they are the only ones who would know where to put the body if a passenger dies, and also they have the food).
- Plebs like me (business class and economy class have no separation on JQ3 in my mind. It's a Jetstar flight, so the business class passengers are still probably poorer than Qantas economy passengers).
No one was offering help out of egotism, or arrogance, or a selfish need to be the hero of the Jetstar Airbus. No one was shutting down ideas or pointing out the authority order. Everyone was just helping, and co-operating, and doing all those other words we try to teach five-year-olds to do. Everyone was just genuinely concerned about their fellow mini-human. It was beautiful.
Once the drama had died down, and little Fainter was back in her seat with five cups of water from her surrounding passengers, and everyone had switched their lights back off and put their inflatable pillows back around their necks, I couldn't help but look around for a while, beaming at all the sleeping faces and post-traumatic-stress dreamers. Just watching my fellow humans in their cramped little seats, and smiling proudly at their nature.
Our little Fainter made a full recovery, by the way. Go Team Jetstar Airbus JQ3.
*As is the nature of Jetstar, all food in-flight must be purchased, so I did not have homemade pancakes for breakfast... I had water and half a fluffy chocolate I found in my handbag.
**Paramedics have the same effect on me as Codeine - an overwhelming sense of calm and gratefully relinquished control. I'd gladly marry a paramedic. Or a Codeine tablet.
By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She is in Hawaii, drinking from a coconut and stroking a monkey (also not a euphemism).