Trapped at 3000 Feet! - 09/03/97

When I actively search for excitement, I rarely find it. It's only when I'm twiddling my thumbs, minding my own business, that excitement takes me by surprise. I'm on a plane traveling to Atlanta, and not five minutes ago, I got stuck in one of the airplane restrooms. No lie.

Airplane Restroom

I wasn't twiddling my thumbs, but I was minding my own business, when I saw that the line for the bathrooms had finally dwindled and it looked like I might get a turn. Taking advantage of the situation, I jumped up and jetted toward the front of the plane. A flight attendant said, "It's open". I flashed him a smile of gratitude and squeezed myself through the door.

I did what I needed to do... blah blah blah, decided it was time to leave and reached for the door. The handle turned but the door wouldn't budge. "That's strange," I thought. I turned the handle the opposite way and leaned on the door again. Nothing.

"It must be me," I decided.

Several more times I turned the knob and pushed. Each time the door would rattle a bit but not open. Thinking that maybe I had consumed one too many glasses of wine, I convinced myself that the door would not open because of some fault of my own. Obviously, I had temporarily forgotten the mechanics of door opening. I was sure, that through trial and error, the door would eventually swing open to reveal flight attendants laughing at me and my poor door opening skills.

This did not happen, though. I rattled. I shoved. I made deals with God. Nothing worked. Finally, I had to resign myself to knocking on the door and feebly crying, "Help..." No one heard me. "Help, please?" With each cry for attention, my embarrassment grew. After 4 calls, someone finally heard my pleas and attempted to assist me. (For those of you who are saying to themselves, "Uh duh... you could 've just rung the button to call the flight attendant." Thanks for the advice. I've heard that 20 times now. At the time, I did not know there was a button. I didn't look around and assess the situation. Panic was setting in. I WANTED OUT!")

The woman, bless her heart, gave that knob tugs that nearly tore the whole door from the frame, yet still it wouldn't open. She yanked and pulled for about a minute before she yelled, "Don't go anywhere! I'm going to find some help!"

"Umm... okay." Don't go anywhere???

I started to calculate how many hours the flight still had left. 3 1/2. Way too long to be trapped in a restroom. Let alone, a restroom that is 2 feet by 2 feet and smelly to boot!

Before long, I heard muffled voices and several attempts were made to open the door. The roar of the plane engines drowned out all intelligible words, however, I got the feeling that at least 4 people "on the outside" were now involved in my rescue. A man yelled, "When I say go, kick the door!"

"Gladly!" I yelled back.

"One,... two,... three,... GO!" WHAM WHAM WHAM! I put a lot into those kicks. Even landed on the toilet due to the force of the third one, but the door didn't budge. Fearfully, I contemplated how I might entertain myself the next 3 1/2 hours. Would I be able to hear the movie? What about my dessert? Would they figure out a way to get me my dessert? Could they maybe slide a complimentary deck of cards through the ashtray? I held my head in my hands and tried to forget that I had a mild case of claustrophobia.

By this time, my not-so-successful rescuers had resorted to kicking the door from their side. I sat on the toilet (the cover was down), scrunched my knees to my chest, and tried to fight the rising panic. "One hundred bottles of beer on the wall, one hundred bottles of beer..."

Suddenly, the door swung silently open. This was very much to my astonishment and also to those staring at me based on their stunned silence. A large piece of gray metal clanked to the floor. I didn't wait to see what it was. I bolted out of my cell, pushed past my rescuers, snatched a chocolate sundae off the rolling cart, and headed for my seat.

Which, is where I will remain the rest of this flight, despite any protests from my bladder. How long was I trapped in the airplane restroom? About 8 minutes. But let me assure you. Those were 8 long minutes.