‘This has been an absolute bugger of a weekend! Thirty-six hours without sleep, two days of tough negotiations and still no contract. Then I stupidly dropped my glasses down a flight of concrete stairs. When I collected them at the bottom, the frame was hopelessly bent and one lens was smashed. So here I am now—stumbling around—only able to see a metre in front of my face. Well at least I can go home and catch up on some sleep,’ Peter muttered aloud.
Peter Bolcombe made his way to the airport departure desk, squinting as his suitcase moved safely through the check-out. Next he secured his boarding pass in his back pocket. Now his biggest problem was finding the correct departure gate; not a simple task when you can’t see very well. He walked for a long time trying in vain to find his way. ‘I’ve come too far or maybe taken a wrong turn. Better ask someone for help,’ Peter whispered to himself. Just then a small motorized travel buggy swerved out of his path.
‘Hey there, I almost hit you,’ called out an unfamiliar voice. ‘Watch out where you’re going!’
‘Sorry!’ Peter called back. ‘I’m travelling to Oakland, but I’m nearly blind and I think I’m lost.’
‘You’re in the wrong terminal, mate,’ the driver answered. ‘You want the building beyond this one. I’m going that way so get in. I’ll drive you down there.’
Peter breathed a sigh of relief, but the driver sounded worried as he said, ‘I think your plane may have left. Let me call in and see if we can still make it.’ After a short, excited conversation he turned to Peter.
‘Buddy, you’re in luck. The plane was ready to go but they are holding it for you. I told them you were cleared for take-off and you are partially blind. They’ll have a wheelchair at the ready. As soon as you get aboard you’ll be off and in the air.’
‘Am I glad I met you,’ Peter answered. ‘Thanks so much for this.’
‘Not a problem. Take care and have a good trip.’
Moments later Peter was wheeled into a huge plane, then nearly exhausted with fatigue he was strapped into his seat. His relief was so great he immediately began to relax, to doze and suddenly he dropped blissfully into the arms of Morpheus―deeply, totally, and soundly asleep.
When Peter awoke everything seemed very strange. The entire plane was in darkness. All the passengers were wrapped in blankets, sound asleep. His Oakland flight should have taken only a few hours, but here on board it appeared to be very late at night. He caught sight of a stewardess and waved her over to him.
‘I’m confused, Miss,’ he whispered. ‘Where are we?’
‘We’ve just passed over the Fiji Islands and our pilot has changed now to his southerly flight pattern,’ she replied. ‘You’ve been sleeping soundly for nine hours. You were almost unconscious. We couldn’t even wake you to check your boarding pass or to serve your dinner.’
‘Miss, I think I’ve boarded the wrong plane. I was travelling to my home in Oakland, California.’
‘Oh Mr. Bolcombe, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the plane we’re travelling on is heading for Auckland, New Zealand. We’ll be arriving there in another four hours.’
Peter spent the next few minutes in a complete daze. First he moved into denial and then a deep and terrible shock set in. Stunned and shaking he said aloud to himself, ‘Here I am now, halfway around the world without my glasses, a ticket, my luggage or a passport. This has been an absolute bugger of a weekend!’
© Mary Mageau