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The Door That Almost Opened - A Flight Attendant Story

For a few months, I worked as a flight attendant. Thrilling experience where I learned once more the benefits of remaining calm at all times. After a couple of months of training, each new flight attendant was to take a first flight before earning her or his wings, which consists of the pin that bears your name. My first flight was to take me from Montreal to Vancouver. I was very existed not only because I was going to fly as a stewardess for the first time but because I had a long flight which I found was much more fun because you have time to chat with the others and eat more. Anyway, we reached our destination and, as we were waiting for the plane to refuel and the passengers to be seated; the pilot, while going through his check list, noticed that one of the door light indicators was showing open when in fact the door was closed.

The passengers were already seated and starting to show signs of impatience. The captain was refusing to sign off the log book. If he had, it would mean that all was functioning perfectly with the plane. He was hesitant because he didn't feel reassured that the door was, in fact, well locked, and that the illuminated button could actually be showing a malfunctioning mechanism which could lead to more serious dangers once we would take off. The maintenance crew, 
after spending over half an hour checking the door, convinced the pilot that the light indicator was defective, not the door; pressuring him to reluctantly sign the log book. So we departed. As a new flight attendant,

 we are closer in our memory to all the different security lessons we have learned, and I felt edgy. None the less, I had the intention to serve the pop drinks with a smile. I had just started to pour the first drink when I sensed a hand on my shoulder. My spine felt a chill and cold sweat rushed down my neck. I turned around and saw the eyes of the chief flight attendant. I knew it was serious. She didn't have to say a word. I secured my serving tray and went to the front of the plane.

There, I saw the first class flight attendant holding the door handle with both hands. She looked as if all her strength was used to hold it down. I stared at her in disbelief when she explained that, as she was about to serve coffee, in the corner of her eye, she noticed a motion and her reflexes prompted her to jump on whatever was moving. The handle had been dislodged from the secured position on the malfunctioning door and the door could open. The pilot had been right, it was too late now. He had already started the manoeuvres to bring the plane back. Very dissatisfied passengers had heard the announcement evidently being unaware of the dangers we were facing. Our role was to remain totally calm.

We went through the rows to make sure all had put their seat belts back on and as I started my tour in the first class, I noticed a gentleman obviously in a state of advanced anger nervousness speaking on his cell phone. I calmly asked him to turn it off. He looked at me straight in the eyes, managing his anger, he congratulated me on keeping such a straight face and then, advised me he was one of the chief supervisors of the maintenance crew at the airport we just had left and informed by the control tower, he was fully aware of what we could expect. Still, I told him to hang up. We strolled between the seats as if we were taking a pleasant walk in the park. My heart was beating to a breaking point and I hid my fear behind a genuine smiling face.

I was seated for landing next to the flight attendant who was still clinging to the door handle. She had chosen not to let go of it and face death first if ever something else would go wrong. For those that are unfamiliar with the process, there is a very high risk in landing again after flying for a shorter time than originally intended. Since we were not allowed to dump our fuel over the city (fuel in a plane is contained in the wings), we were full, the wings bent with the weight. That is unimportant except in a landing situation when the wings can touch the ground and a very small contact can create an irreparable disaster. Since I am writing this down, it is obvious that there was no plane crash involved and we all safely landed. The flight attendant who hung on to the door was taken in under medical supervision since her arms were totally bruised, some veins had literally popped from the effort.

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