“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, May 13, 2013

In The Shadow Of Terrorism: The Day After



MY ACTUAL SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS FROM AN AIRPLANE SITTING ON THE TARMAC OF THE BOSTON (LOGAN) AIRPORT THE DAY AFTER THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS:

My current view... Unfortunately our plane has been grounded due to security reasons.  Hope to make it back to Portland today.


LATER:
They had taken two guys off the plane for questioning and then let them back on the plane.  They started acting suspicious so passengers got nervous.  Please keep me and anthony and christopher in your prayers.  Still waiting on plane.

LATER THAT DAY: 

Home and watching the news. Shocking to also see the United Flight that we were on this morning is National news. Two men were removed from our plane. We were almost taking off when they stopped the plane and returned to the tarmac. Federal marshals boarded the plane and removed them. Anthony was sitting beside one of them and I was right behind him. Freaky 24 hours! Grateful for your prayers!

April 16, 2013

We boarded our flight.  It was the day after the Boston Marathon Bombings.  We were leaving Boston and headed home to Portland via Chicago.  We had just been through the gauntlet of FBI agents, ticketing agents and Boston Police who had asked us if we had seen or heard anything strange just the day before.  We shared what little we knew, shuddered, and then headed to our plane.

We didn't have seats together.  Anthony had the window seat 22F and Christopher and I were sitting in 23D and 23E.  We thought once we got on the plane the person in 23F would surely switch seats with us so we could sit together as a family.  But that was not the case.  A petite woman wearing her Boston Marathon jacket refused to move.  She would want to see who would be sitting in the middle seat before she would agree to move.  I loudly huffed as she infuriatingly announced that SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO MOVE.  Which I agreed, but after what had happened the day before I thought everyone was going to be kind and gracious.  She wasn't.  And so I wasn't.  I felt the best way to spite her was for me to sit next to her.  I would be in the middle seat next to her.  Now, wasn't she glad she hadn't moved?

We had gotten settled in.  Shoved and stuffed our bags under our seats.  The other passengers were getting settled into their seats and it appeared that Anthony would have the middle seat next to him OPEN.  And so then she says SHE'D BE WILLING TO MOVE now.  I smirkingly said NO THANKS.  And that was that.

Next thing we know a few more passengers scurry on board.  One gentleman sits in the middle seat next to Anthony and the other sits in 24C.  Just catty-corner to Christopher.  Just behind him.  Within moments two Federal Marshals enter the plane.  Walk down the aisle.  Stop at Anthony's row.   And try to get the attention of the passenger that is now sitting next to Anthony.  The name they were saying belonged to the other passenger sitting in 24C.  But the Marshals asked both of the men to grab their belongings (of which they had none) and exit the plane for a few minutes.

Everyone around us is alert to what just occurred.  We are relieved they are off the plane since the Marshals felt they should be.  Settled back and waited for the doors to close.

But the doors didn't close.

Within moments one of the flight attendants walks down the aisle and stops at Anthony's row.  She quietly addresses rows 22 and 24 THE GENTLEMEN ARE COMING BACK ON THE PLANE.  PLEASE BE AWARE OF ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS AND LET US KNOW.

Gulp.

At that moment I knew Anthony was sooo glad that he hadn't switched seats.  He let the lady in 22D know that they could both interrogate passenger 22E.  And I knew I needed to give passenger 23F grace.  Lots of grace.  I had just been through a Sunday School class that had been teaching on not keeping offenses.  Not only for the benefit for others but for ourselves, too.  So I slowly started to thaw.

Passengers 22E and 24C returned to their seats.  We were all on super high alert.  I couldn't see anything, but could hear passengers 22E and 24C conversing loudly in Arabic.  The plane was taxi-ing to take off and the plane was quiet except for the words spoken in Arabic.

BING!

The passenger in 24F rang his call button.  Because we were literally about to take off one of the flight attendants quickly said over the intercom PLEASE RING YOUR CALL BUTTON AGAIN IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY WE ARE ABOUT TO TAKE OFF.  And, again, came the sound BING!  A flight attendant rushed back to row 24 asked the passenger in 24F what they needed and they replied THE BATHROOM.  I expected to look back on their seat and discover a mess, but it wasn't.  As the pilot pulled back on the plane passenger 24F went to the back of the plane and DID NOT enter the bathroom but went to the galley to speak with the flight attendant.

Silence.  Well, almost silence.  Everyone was silent.  Except passenger 24C.  He was immediately on his cell phone.  And that's when I realized that I was nervous.  I was nervous and I was glad that Christopher was asleep.  And I started to pray and realize that my fear was not going to change anything.

Ultimately, the plane stayed on the tarmac for about an hour.  Multiple Federal Marshals boarded the plane and had to remove AGAIN passenger 24C from at that point the bathroom and 22E next to Anthony.  They pulled the plane up to a gate.  Had all of the passengers removed from the plane.  Searched the plane with bomb-sniffing dogs.  And then let all of the passengers back on the plane.  Except for passengers 24C and 22E, of course.  We found out later that the passenger that had rung his call button told the flight attendant in the back of the plane that he would not fly with passengers 22E and 24C.  Either they were off the plane or he was.

We reboarded the plane.  My seat mate had offered to switch seats with Anthony this time, but he said NO.  He wanted the open seat next to him.  And that was fine.  She ended up apologizing for her initial reaction saying that someone had spoken harshly to her earlier in the day and had taken it out on me.  I accepted her apology.  And then offered one of my own.  And then we had a non-eventful flight to Chicago.

As I would recount the story later, people were determined that the only reason the passengers (22E & 24C) were removed was due to PROFILING.  That the other passengers were profiling the two men speaking Arabic.  That angered me.  That wasn't true.  I blamed the flight attendant who came back initially and put the FEAR into us by asking us to report anything SUSPICIOUS.  I blamed the Federal Marshals for initially making a HUGE deal of taking the men off the plane in the first place.  And then letting them back on the plane.  But ultimately, I blame the terrorists who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon.

Not that blame is going to make a difference.  No difference.  REALLY.  It doesn't even feel good to blame.  It doesn't help me process it all. 

But telling the story does.  I think getting it out of my head.  And trying to put the pieces together.  It is happening slowly.

There's still more story to tell.

But it will wait for
another day.


1 comment:

Kathi Woodall said...

What an ordeal! This is the first I've heard of the airplane drama but I thank God for His protection over you, friend.