Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't Let The Door Hit You!

Again, I must tell you that I engage in hyperbole a lot. Most of the things I've posted about on this blog never happened, and of those, none of them happened anywhere near like I said they did. But today, I deftly avoided serious physical harm, and again it had to do with the aircraft door.
We pick up the aircraft in the morning, and there's a little yellow sticker on the door-closing button. The FAA is mad about little yellow stickers. That's what they put on anything that doesn't work. It's got a little number on it which doesn't mean anything to anyone, and the cryptic phrase INOP. We theorize that it means inoperative. But if you can put a seventeen-digit number with four hyphens on the sticker, can't you just spring for the whole word 'inoperative?' INOP has become an industry-wide joke. "Sorry if I can't count the passengers today, my brain's INOP." "We're not getting out of here today, one of the wings is INOP." And so on.
I digress. And now I'm going to digress further, to tell you how the door-closing button works. It's hydraulic, and the amount of power used to close the door is variable, based on how the pilots set it. So if the door isn't lifting all the way up to where I can grab it and shut it, I get to scream at the pilots, "IT'S NOT WORKING! I NEED MORE POWER!" I love it when I get to do that.
Anyway, the door is not lifting at all on this particular day. And when that happens, you need to get one of the rampers to close it for you when you're ready to close up. I had never actually done this before. When we were ready to go, I flag down a ramper who happens to be a nine-foot Samoan chick, who gives me a stoic nod when I ask her if she can close the door.
Like I said, what usually happens when I press the button is that the door lifts up to where I can grab it, and then I shut it by hand. That requires me to be right there in the doorway. However, when the rampers close the door (as I found out today), they lift it up until they can fit under it, and then dive at it like a cannonball, slamming it so hard that the entire plane rattles. It is important to note that at no time during this violent process can they see if a flight attendant is in the doorway.
The bottom step of the door is, when closed, forehead level. It's solid steel, with an edge as bluntly sharp as the devil's sense of humor.
You can see what's going to happen here.
I sure didn't. I saw the door come up, heard the servos whining way faster than I had ever heard before, and then a voice in my head screamed BE SOMEWHERE ELSE RIGHT NOW. It's that same voice cats hear, and I did the same thing they do when they hear it; I flung myself somewhere anywhere, which happened to be back across the galley, and the door crashed shut in my wake. It is with no hyperbole that I state that, had that thing hit me, it would have broken my skull. And had I survived that, I would have carried an awesome pirate scar for the rest of my can't-feed-myself life.
The other flight attendant had been on her way to the galley when this happened, and she actually had to dive out of my way when I dove out of the door's way. And she turned to the passengers in first class when everything stopped moving and asked, "Did you guys see that?"
And all of them said in unison, "Yes we did!"
Like I always tell people these days, it's nice to finally have a job where my agility counts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ew. She probably high-fived her co-workers and shouted, "Got another one!" Can't imagine that did much for the confidence level of your passengers... L.M. P.S. I love you, becareful!!!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

Canadian for INOP is "U/S". Now think how hard I laugh every time I see a US Airways airplane, or US Postal Service, etc.

I got to watch retired airline pilots trying to close the door on a B737 the other day. Funny. Now I know I should be glad none of them was killed.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

All you need is a Fedora and a bullwhip to complete the image...

8:18 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Avi: Now THAT is priceless. Does it stand for something, or is it a Canadian-made metaphor? Welcome to the United States of FILE NOT FOUND ///// SYSTEM ERROR PLEASE REBOOT COUNTRY.
Sand: NOW you're talking. Think I could get a whip past TSA?

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so they can answer yes in unison about witnessing a near emergency but not when you ask them if they are capable of helping in an actual emergency. perfect.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

Call it a belt, they will never know...

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U/S stands for unserviceable. It's used outside Canada as well as I know we use it in NZ.

7:44 AM  

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