Loaded Brownies – Part 3 18

This is the conclusion of “Loaded Brownies”. If you missed parts 1 and 2, the links are below. This is a TIA (Trans International Airlines) story of a Hadj adventure  (flying Muslim pilgrims to Mecca) which took place in 1976.



John was our British ground representative stationed in Jeddah. Although part of the airline, ground reps were never considered crew. They were stationary list checkers. They were our anchors, our stability. They were envious of us flying all over the world; we were envious of them getting to stay in one place. We lived out of a suitcase; they had a chest of drawers. Neither understood the other’s world.

When John came down for a brownie I said: “Well sure, but you know they’re loaded.” No response. We were deliberate in emphasizing to our fellow partakers that the brownies were loaded. Maybe he thought we were referring to the nuts and raisins. When he asked for a second, I remember telling him again: “You do know they’re loaded, don’t you?” He smiled, nodded, munched it up, declared it delicious and headed up to the main cabin. Looking back, I wish all the brownies had been eaten when he came back for a third. I was busy chatting at the far end of the galley and hadn’t noticed his return. He already had it in his mouth when I saw him. I came flying across the galley screaming: “NO!” Too late. “John, spit it out! Do NOT swallow it. That is your third brownie. It’s loaded, loaded! Oh my God. You don’t know what that means, do you? There is marijuana in that brownie. In an hour you will be stoned to the gills.”

John shrugged and said: “I’ll be fine.”

Two hours later it kicked in like a sledgehammer. One minute I was walking up the aisle smooth as silk; the next, the seats were doin’ the hootchie-kootchie. The little airplane windows were expanding and contracting, and stars from the pattern in the seat fabric were shooting throughout the cabin. Maybe the brownies were stronger than I thought. I knew in less than an hour, I would have to disarm the slide and open the door of the plane that was landing in Saudi Arabia. I was dreading it.

This was a culture that chopped off the hand of a starving man for the theft of an apple. Imagine what they would do to a woman who baked drugs into brownies. I would have to use extreme concentration to perform my assigned duty and hope to live through it.

We touched down. It was almost time to perform the door-opening task while ignoring the swishing tail section of the plane and the dancing seats. By now, the British rep, John was wailing about how he was going crazy and on the verge of death. I couldn’t risk telling him that if he would just relax, the effect of the marijuana would pass in a few hours and by the time he got home to London, he would be back to normal. Not only did I not trust myself to move, but I didn’t want to give myself away lest he blab my involvement to the authorities. I just had to sit still, remain silent, open the door and get out of the way.

With a frozen smile on my face, I watched the door rise slowly. My eyes stayed riveted to the opening. The first thing I saw were several sets of sandaled feet, followed by the crisp white robes of the Saudi officials waiting to board. When my gaze got to the red and white checkered headgear with the headbands of gold ropes, my heart was pounding so loud I could hear it thumping in my ears.

In the background, John was shrieking in agony. Unbeknownst to me, the captain had radioed ahead that we had a medical emergency on board. I was terrified. I slinked away from the scene and sat petrified as the doctor examined John. I kept waiting to hear those incriminating words: “She did it!” and see fingers pointing at me. John was hallucinating, screaming, incoherent and out of control. As badly as I felt seeing him suffer, I was powerless to help. If I came forward with an explanation, I would, most likely, be escorted off the plane, questioned, or rather interrogated, and then …? Jailed? Worse? I didn’t want to find out. I stared with wide, unblinking eyes as John was deplaned. I heard murmurs about a hospital.

I sat still, barely breathing, and I waited. I waited for the magic words: “Flight attendants prepare for departure.” I wished I was in the fetal position in my huge basket in the cargo pit. After an interminable amount of time, the captain said those welcome words. Closing the door and hooking up the slide gave me some comfort, but it wasn’t until lift-off that I breathed a sigh of relief. I never heard another word about John. I hope he fared well and is now sitting in some English pub surrounded by friends to whom he is telling his version of the day he ate loaded brownies.

As for me, I never ate another loaded brownie or smoked pot again.



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