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by Sandra Rea
Years back, my boyfriend who later turned into my husband who later turned into my ex-husband brought me to Australia to visit him and work with him on Michael Jackson’s BAD Tour as a member of the video crew. I was thrilled to be heading to a country I’d always wanted to see. My first stop was Sydney, where I stayed at the Regency overlooking the opera house. It was gorgeous, not that I could truly appreciate the view by the time I had arrived. I could barely appreciate the awaiting bubble bath and beautiful pearl necklace bestowed upon me by my betrothed. Don’t think of me as an ingrate yet.
The trip was a Valentine’s gift to me, even though I’d be working to earn my keep. I was mentally prepared for the 15+-hour flight, but I was not prepared for what happened ON the flight. I was not prepared to be flying, sitting next to a little boy named Chas. I was not prepared for our plane to run over a part of an engine from another plane, and I was not prepared for the 24-hour delay, sleeping on the airport floor … with Chas running around the waiting area screaming and taking toys from his sister.
One might think that the worst part was learning that our airplane had been negatively affected by running over part of another airplane, and that the pilots had no clue until we were two hours out over the sea, thusly forcing us to head back to the airport. Or maybe one might think the worst part was the major delay, my limited money for food and sleeping on the floor at the airport. I could handle every bit of that. What I couldn’t handle – and what many of the other passengers sharing my flight learned about themselves in the air – is someone’s child running up and down the aisles, screaming, hitting, taking items from passengers, bothering the attendants and being completely ignored by his mother, who I’m sure had been worn to a thread by her delightful offspring. I guarantee that by the end of the flight, everyone on the plane knew Chas’ name.
At the beginning of the flight, before his mother had totally checked out on us (I think she had some help in the form of little blue pills), we heard a lot of, “Chas, stop that. Chas, get down. Chas, sit down. Chas, don’t hit your sister. Chas, you need to be better. Chas, you need to stop biting people. Chas, give that back. Chas, Chas, Chas.” I for one will never forget Chas. I was in hopes that our relationship would end on the plane. To my surprise and delight I learned that Chas was the son of the head of the video crew on which my boyfriend worked. The woman who had no control over her son was in fact the producer’s wife, now divorced. What did this mean to me? I’d be seeing a lot of Chas during my stay in Australia, which might be a good thing, because I found all-new ways of being very busy and unavailable for social outings with that particular family.
My boyfriend and I were able to see a lot of sights in Australia, one of the most beautiful places on earth and a place I could live easily, big bugs and all. One strange incident happened during our adventures beyond Chas. My boyfriend and I were locked in at the kangaroo park! No one on staff knew we were still there and we didn’t hear the closing alert. We were busy walking among the animals and looking for koalas hiding in the tress. We ended up having to climb out of the park over an eight-foot chain link fence, but at least I can say it was memorable. We got a lot of great pictures, too. And best of all, Chas was not with us.