Thursday, April 14, 2011

High in the sky. (Aer Lingus gives new meaning to the mile-high club.)

Five weeks from tonight, my husband and I will be flying to Shannon for a long-awaited vacation to Ireland. We’ll be on Aer Lingus, which -  if history is any guide - will be packed cheek to jowl with tourists of a certain age heading “home”on a once in a lifetime roots tour, largely focused on shopping for Aran sweaters and tweed scally caps, and finding her last name on a shop (or grave) in a town where their great-grandmother was born. Not that I haven’t done all of the above me-self, mind yez. Just sayin’. (And, yes, it was a bit of a thrill to be standing in the cemetery in Ballintubber, Co. Mayo, and see all those Joyce graves. A family reunion of a sort. Plus my husband looks pretty darned cute in a tweed scally cap.)

So our Aer Lingus flight will no doubt be crammed, stuffy, and noisy. In that, it will be not unlike the coffin ships that many of the Irish immigrants came to Amerikay on. Full circle: only flying is quicker, and you’re not as likely to die mid-voyage.

Whatever else the flight has, it is unlikely to have one Miguel Saez Sanchez onboard as a flight attendant, manning the drink carts with all those Rosaleens and Geraldines.

That’s not only because Sanchez worked the San Francisco to Dublin route, and I’m flying Boston to Shannon, but because his appeal to overturn his dismissal will likely not be adjudicated for a couple of months.

Sanchez was fired because he went a bit out of control on a flight. The result, he claims, of having unwittingly eaten a marijuana-laced brownie the night before, washed down with a few vodkas, with a diet-pill chaser.  Wheee…..

Post take-off, Sanchez thought he was being photographed by the plane's passengers who he believed were "plants" by the airline. He then told a crew member that he could feel fleas and lice on his body. (Source: Huffington Post.)

Back in the day, I do not believe that a marijuana brownie would have caused paranoia and hallucinogenic flea-flicking. It would, I do believe, have caused a mild, goofy-grin, mellowed-out little buzz. Just what are they putting in grass these days? (And with respect to fleas, note to self: just to be on the safe side, check for bedbugs in airplane seat.)

Anyway, Sanchez claims he didn’t know that OTC diet pills were verboten by Aer Lingus. Nor was he aware that the brownie was laced.

Both strike me as plausible denials, more or less.

It’s not as if the consistency of a marijuana brownie is all that different from that of a plain old Joy of Cooking brownie. It’s not like the difference between a Marlboro and a “funny cigarette.” (When I was in high school, we were actually warned never to accept a cigarette at a party, because it might be a “funny cigarette” that could make you high.  There was nothing high about my high school tenure, and, although I didn’t frequent parties where someone might have offered me a cigarette, funny or otherwise, I did at the time believe that it was possible that you could get slipped a cigarette mickey. This belief was dispelled, of course, the first time I actually came across a real “funny cigarette” and realized that only someone who was a complete idiot, had no sense of smell, or, well,  was on drugs, couldn’t tell the difference between a Winston and a joint.)

Anyway, The Irish Independent was the ur-source for this article, so I thought I’d jet over there to see if there were any more details.

Indeed, there were.

Sanchez, apparently, got sick shortly after eating the brownie (referred to in The Independent as “a cookie,” but which Huff-Po more plausibly translated). He then learned that the brownie was laced. Sanchez says that he had smoked grass one time only, years before, in Amsterdam (where else?), and never touched the stuff because of his violent reaction to it. Anyway, Sanchez was advised to take a shower, but had a paranoia attack in the shower. Nonetheless, he felt well enough to fly the next day.

And then “it” kicked in. (See above: Just what are they putting in grass these days?)

Sanchez told his supervisor that he wasn’t well enough to work his shift, but they were in flight by that point. Nowhere else for him to go. It did, however, appear to some of the passengers that, with his jacket on and briefcase in hand, Sanchez was preparing to exit the plane.

Which must have raised some passenger concern about exactly how Sanchez was going to accomplish this feat.

Anyway, Aer Lingus is not having any of Sanchez’ reasonable doubt:

Tom Mallon, for Aer Lingus, said that for a member of cabin crew to consume marijuana, slimming pills and alcohol "is nothing short of folly in the highest". He said Mr. Sanchez had cut himself off from travelling in a plane in any role other than as a passenger.

Not that I would want to witness a flight attendant freak out, and I am on his side with respect to the diet pills, but I am also inclined to tell Tom Mallon to lighten up, or, even, light one up – if he could find some grass as mellow as that or yore.

This is not quite as colorful or dramatic, of course, as the recent story of the Jet Blue steward who jumped (air)ship beer in hand, sliding down the emergency chute, which he had activated. (Fortunately, the plane was on the tarmac at the time.) Wheee….. Talk about a grand gesture that had ‘I quit’ written all over it.

Still, this story is a good one.

I’ll be on high alert for some cabin fever among the stews on my upcoming flight.

Just stay away from the emergency exit, please.

I don’t think that slide will get you all the way from a couple of miles up down to the Atlantic. Plus, when you get there, it’d be cold, dark, and wet in the middle of the night. (Probably a lot like a coffin ship.)

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