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a classic tale of in-flight mass hysteria, courtesy of 0xdeadbeef. Read on…

Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 09:51:06 -0800
From: (spam-protected) (glen mccready)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: QANTAS Flight 203 and the Breadroll of Doom

Forwarded-by: Nev Dull (spam-protected)
Forwarded-by: Randy Cassingham (spam-protected)

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= QANTAS Flight 203 and the Breadroll of Doom

Just thought I’d fill you guys in on my rather eventful day today.

The day started off ok — flew from Melbourne to Brisbane with no major dramas at all. The only problem was that three of the five screaming little whipper snappers I had earlier noticed in the gate lounge at Melbourne had been allocated the row of seats behind mine. In hindsight, I probably should have taken a little more notice of this obviously bad omen….

Anyway, apart from the screaming, crying and the regular “sinking of the slipper” into the back of my seat with clocklike monotony, it really was not all that bad. Landed in beautiful Brissy and had a dream connection to my Mackay flight. The kids left the flight, the plane left on time, wow, this is going to be a good day.

Once we were on our way, the hosties decided to surprise us with some unbelievably ordinary food — no, not just the normal servings of ordinariness, this time they had gone to some extra effort. There was the standard cheese and crackers, the piece of fruit ‘n’ nut chocolate, and then the centre piece, a delightfully soggy bread roll with an internal smearing of curried egg and capsicum. Nothing else, just curried egg and capsicum. Mmmm Mmmm! Hot Tip: These rolls are best served when made a few weeks before hand so the curried egg can thoroughly soak through the bread.

Now, in these turbulent times, and following the 17 suspected cases of Anthrax poisoning reported yesterday, you would think Qantas would be rather careful about what they are serving on their planes. Nope. The aforementioned culinary delight that was the soggy bread roll was not a plain roll, nor did it have those sesame seed thingys stuck to its top, oh no, lets give everyone on the aircraft a bread roll completely laced with flour! Great idea that. How about we put so much flour on it that it will actually fall off in a clump onto your plate so that some paranoid git behind you can start screaming hysterically about anthrax poisoning!! Fantastic.

The hosties step in and calm the situation quite well. They quietly tell her (she actually was sitting right behind me — in hindsight I’d have rathered those little whipper snappers any day!) that they have taken her meal back and will send it for analysis once we land in Mackay. They took her details and told her she would be contacted with the results. Obviously if it really was anthrax, she would be the only one at risk of inhaling the stuff, what with the sealed aircraft environment and the recirculating air con….

Anyway, nothing more said until we land. It now seems that some ground official has cottoned on to the fact that if one person could be at risk, then, hang on while I do the maths …um… carry the five… oh yeah!! The whole damned plane is at risk!! Quick shut the doors! Oh, and lets keep that air con running!!

Then the action starts. On my side of the plane I see a fire truck pull up. Then another one. Then what looks like every policeman Mackay has ever trained. Then a water tanker. Ahh, the Hazardous Materials Van is here! That should induce some panic! And what should emerge from the Haz. Van? Why, two blokes in full bio suits of course!! For those that are familiar with the movie “2001”, they looked just like “Dave” when suited up to venture outside Voyager in his space pod. For those not familiar with 2001, blokes in yellow plastic suits with a massive, fully enclosed perspex face mask which would fit over the head of a baby elephant. Color coded of course.

Now, what terrifies human beings even more than the fear of death via biological warfare I hear you ask? Why, it’s taking a shower in all your good clothes of course!! Oh the horror!!!! Yes the bio suited guys have erected their little shower cubical and have connected up a massive 2″ outlet from one of the fire trucks. And, wait, who’s here now? Yes it’s the local media. They’ve turned up to film “the cleansing of the roll flour from the passengers”. Should make some great viewing, perhaps even a mini series.

Two and a half hours pass while being constantly updated that we “should be able to disembark in the next 15 minutes or so”. (Let’s just keep that air con. going though, just in case.) The bio suited dudes are so far the only people who have used the shower (after handling the highly toxic roll flour). The guys outside with the camera’s are obviously getting bored waiting for us — they start to pack up their cameras.

Then, out of the blue, Mr Plodd bravely enters our flour infested chamber with some news, and he has with him, a doctor. The doc gets on the PA system and tells us that they have run all the tests that they are capable of in the Mackay hospital, and while they can not be 100% certain, it seems that the substance taken from the plane is, wait for it, an ordinary substance used in the preparation of the flight meals. He had even diagnosed us — the entire plane. We have a phenomenon known in the medical world as “Excessive Vigilance”. Well done champ. Unbelievable. It would have been quicker to scrape all the flour up off everyone’s lap and whip up a batch of scones to prove the true identity of the substance!!

This is when in my opinion, the day’s highlight occurred. Following such a long period of such intense waiting, there is bound to be an outpouring of emotion… Sighs of relief, cries of laughter, cheering, clapping, and of course, the absolute verbal barrage of abuse for the poor lady sitting behind me who had now sunk so low into her chair that she was now practically wearing her lifejacket. It seems that another particular lady who had now well and truly missed her (spam-protected) flight to the Whitsundays had decided to give our friend a piece of her mind. The awkward silence that followed was priceless.

Anyway, before we all finally got off the plane they took everyone’s details in case forensic testing at Brisbane’s pathology centre turned anything else up. We got off the plane to a bit of a hero’s welcome — heaps of people, police and media interviews. I didn’t quite get to my destination from Mackay in time to see the local news, but apparently we were the headline story. All hail the paranoid chick from row 9.

  • Randy Cassingham, author of “This is True” * (spam-protected) +
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