Monday, November 21, 2005

Sleepwalking into free fall

A French woman was bound over by the Magistrate’s Court in Brisbane today after having been arrested at the airport upon arrival from Hong Kong. She had planned to spend a three weeks’ holiday in Australia and taken a cocktail of drinks and sleeping pills ahead of the flight because she was “scared of flying”. Why somebody with a phobia of flying boards a plane in the first place without need or compulsion but to go on a holiday is anybody’s guess. Of course, you wouldn’t expect a rational decision from somebody soon thereafter ready to jump off the plane in mid-air in order to feed a nicotine addiction.

She was stopped by flight attendants after walking up to an emergency exit with an unlit cigarette and a lighter and trying to open the doors, presumably for some fresh air. It probably never occurred to her that it must have been something like minus thirty degrees out there with the air so thin that she would have phased out before lighting up. At least she was considerate enough not wanting to annoy other passengers with passive smoking, although they would not have appreciated a sudden gust of cold wind entering the cabin.

The woman’s solicitors argued that she had a habit of sleepwalking and had no recollections of what had happened. Thankfully, the interior of an aircraft is a controlled environment. What worries me is that you might encounter the same people with erratic phobias and delirious from a mixture of drugs and alcohol out on the street driving a car or being given responsibility for others at work. It definitely is safer up in the air.


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