by Sheila Whaley from Oakville, Ontario
A few years ago, I borrowed my boyfriend's suit bag and was returning home to Toronto from a business trip in Edmonton. At the check-in, the passenger agent told me to place my baggage on the luggage conveyer. There was about four feet of conveyer, dropping off gradually to the floor. The belt eventually led to one of those shoots covered with vertical plastic strips.
I placed the suit bag on the conveyer and let go of it. It was then that I noticed a clothes hanger was poking out of the zipper. Not wanting to damage my bag or somebody else’s, I stepped on to the conveyer with the intention of pulling the bag back to fix the problem.
I realized almost instantly that I was in trouble. The tire-like rubber conveyer would not allow me to shuffle my feet. Since it was in motion, I didn't want to lose my balance by lifting a foot, so I decided to sit down on it.
I swung my feet over the side and, still holding on to the bag, tried to use my shoulder to leverage myself off the belt.
It didn't work. Before I knew it I had disappeared behind the plastic strips, slowly turning upside down and backwards. I heard cries of "oh my God" from various fellow passengers. As I completely disappeared down the shoot, two men came to my aid, one grabbing me by my right foot, and the other by my left hand. That didn’t work either and the first man was left holding only my shoe, and the second was now in possession of my airline ticket.
Finally, the passenger agent noticed my dilemma and hit the emergency stop button located at the mouth of the shoot. I gathered myself to hear the passenger agent inquire "are you alright in there?" To which I replied, "Please tell me I'm not the first idiot to have done this."
"Well,” she said. “No one has ever gone in quite that far before".
I wiggled my way out, suit bag still in hand, apologized to the agent and the two men, collected my shoe and ticket, and proceeded, with as much dignity as possible, to complete my check-in.
Thinking back on the incident on the flight home, I could only be grateful that I was wearing pants and not a dress.