Flight SH 123 to Corfu Ch. 06 of 07bydavidmuleguy©
Ch 6 (of 7) -- Women's stinky feet -- at 30,000 ft!
Danny Dawson and his three former school pals, all of them eighteen-year-old school leavers with no job or training to go to upon their leaving education and, (would-be) 'career claimants', had duly reported to the location of their placements, as assigned to them by their local Job Centre.
The recently elected Authoritarian Female Party government, led by their very attractive and highly charismatic leader, Caroline Flint, had promptly introduced the placement scheme and, in their being applied all over Britain, these placements were the key feature -- the cornerstone -- of the A.F.P.'s Work Motivation Programme.
The A.F.P.'s radical, new-way-of-thinking initiative, was highly innovative and, although its introduction and speedy implementation had been highly controversial -- causing protests, street marches, outrage and uproar, from the Human Rights lobbyists -- it was well received by the great majority of the British people. Warmly welcomed, in fact.
For, the Work Motivation Programme was specifically designed, with the express purpose of giving the lazy-bones, workshy, job-dodging malingerers; many of whom, were long-term unemployed, and second, even third-generation 'career claimants', a none-too-gentle nudge in the right direction -- towards finding gainful employment.
As instructed, in their letters of notification from their local Job Centre, the four workshy school leavers had duly reported to the Information Desk of the popular budget travel company, Sunshine Holidays, at Manchester Airport -- Terminal 2 Departures. There, they had been received by Chief Stewardess Julie Davies, who had formally taken charge of them.
And now, they were about to discover what they were going to have to do, if they were to continue to qualify for their unemployment benefit payments. About to discover, just what, exactly, their duties as Air Purification Technicians would actually entail.
* * *
The Sunshine Holidays jet-liner that Danny and his three former schoolmates now found themselves aboard, was fitted with 200 passenger seats and, due to its having a rather long and narrow fuselage, people in the Air Line industry had nicknamed this model of aircraft, as the 'Flying Pencil'.
The 'Flying Pencil's passenger seating arrangement, was that there were fifty rows of seats. There were four seats per row, with two seats on either side of the aisle.
The window-seats and aisle-seats on the port (left) side of the aircraft cabin, were labelled 'A' and 'B', respectively. The aisle-seats and window-seats on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft cabin, were labelled 'C' and 'D', respectively.
And so: lines A, B, C, and D, were each comprised of fifty seats.
The two platforms, upon which the port side seats and the starboard side seats were bolted down, were elevated above the aisle floor by about two feet.
The time was now 06:30. Take-off time, for Flight SH 123 to Corfu.
* * *
Chief Stewardess Julie Davies had, to her immense relief, managed to shepherd her four confused and concerned charges aboard the aircraft just in time for its take-off slot. And it was to the great relief also, of her three air hostess colleagues -- Carol, Ann and Diane -- who had been trying to reassure the worrisome Captain Simon (Buck) Rogers that the senior air hostess would arrive in time.
Now though, time was tight, and Chief Stewardess Julie Davies and her three colleagues hastened about their duties; the Sunshine Holidays jet-liner, bumping and jolting gently now as it taxied towards the runway.
Danny and his three fellow Air Purification Technicians looked on bemusedly. Completely at a loss, as to just what, exactly, was actually going on. And, as they stood by and watched the urgent, yet calm and efficient activities of the four air hostesses, they cast questioning, and increasingly concerned glances at each other.
For, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies and her three colleagues, were busy opening the four panels that were situated behind the rearmost row of seats; situated behind the two elevated seating platforms -- two on the port side, two on the starboard side: behind seat numbers 50 'A', 'B', 'C', and 'D' -- that gave access to the under-seat space of the Flying Pencil's fuselage.
As Danny and his three nonplussed former classmates looked on, exchanging befuddled, 'What, the ...?' glances, the four air hostesses spun free the quick-release wing-nuts, and removed the four panels from behind the two elevated seating platforms, thereby opening four entrances to the aircraft's under-seat space -- an add-on, yet integral, under-section of the climate-controlled aircraft cabin.
Caroline Flint, Prime Minister and leader of the recently elected Authoritarian Female Party, had, that very morning, cooed over the aircraft's modifications, lauding them, as "A remarkable feat of improvisational ingenuity." And: "A great credit, to all concerned."
In fact, taking great pleasure in scissoring the logo'd blue-and-yellow ribbons draped across the entrance doors of the Sunshine Holidays jet-liner, the new Prime Minister had been cock-a-hoop, in personally presiding over the Air Purification Technician inauguration ceremony.
Addressing the large gathering of Air Line industry workers before her, Caroline Flint had quipped, "I really hope that this ... pilot scheme, takes off." When polite chuckles had subsided, she went on, "As it is my own, personal brainchild, I would like to see this particular Work Motivation Programme scheme introduced generally, nation-wide. And with as many compatible British Air Lines as possible, taking part in this groundbreaking, and -- I have no doubt -- extremely efficacious, endeavour ... And after all, there is no reason not to. No reason at all, why compatible Air Lines shouldn't do their bit, for the country -- for hard-working, solid-citizen tax-payers, like yourselves -- since all aircraft modification costs will be met by government subsidy."
As revealed by the four air hostesses, in each of these four entrances, placed upon grooved rails, were the four ... contraptions, that were the Air Purification Technicians' Service Vehicles: Service Vehicles A, B, C, and D.
The Air Purification Technicians' service vehicles looked, at a casual glance, very much like ordinary poolside recliners. Made of a hard, plastic-type material, they were about six feet long, two feet wide and, just like many ordinary poolside recliners, the forward, upper-body section was adjustable, thereby conveniently enabling the occupant's torso and head to be raised and lowered.
But, apart from these otherwise seemingly unremarkable contraptions being castor-wheeled, they differed in appearance from ordinary poolside recliners in another, and rather more obvious way: They were fitted with five sturdy leather straps -- restraints. For the occupant's wrists, ankles, and neck.
The four air hostesses now pulled forward these four, castor-wheeled service vehicles from their storage bays. And as soon as they had done so, they peremptorily ordered their four dumbfounded charges to lie down upon them; on their backs, and with their heads facing towards the front of the aircraft.
Turning to Danny, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies addressed him brusquely, authoritatively. Nodding meaningfully, at the hard-surfaced, complete-with-restraints contraption she had just pulled forward from behind starboard window-seat 50 D -- Service Vehicle D -- she impatiently hectored Danny, "Come on, then! What are you waiting for? On you get, Dawson, onto your service vehicle ... Well, go on then, get on with it -- don't take all day .... Dawson, you cretin! I. Said. Move yourself!"
Shocked and disbelieving, Danny said nothing, did nothing -- was statuesque.
"Er ... don't you get it yet, Dawson?" inquired Chief Stewardess Julie Davies, of the stunned and incredulous Danny. "This is what you are here for, you idiot! Capiche? You, and others like you. You don't want to go to work and earn a living -- like respectable people. No ... you'd rather sponge -- from people like me! Wouldn't you, Dawson? So now you are here, instead ... Now, do as I tell you, Dawson. And do it now -- or else! Lie down on your service vehicle. Lie on your back, with your head at the front -- see, Dawson; there's a rubber lining there, it'll cushion your head, and keep it in place during turbulence, so you'll be all nice and comfy," the senior air hostess told Danny, with mock solicitousness.
When, in sheer incredulity, Danny merely continued to gaze blankly back at her, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies purposefully stepped right up to the hapless Danny.
Directly confronting him and, to better enable her to enforce her will, without the further wastage of any more precious time; like an overbearing Dreadnought, bringing to bear her formidable array of weapons against a mere, bobbing-on-the-waves, one-man dinghy, she delivered her uncompromising, non-negotiable ultimatum.
Her eyes, fixing upon Danny's with an unsettling, disturbing -- fear-inspiring -- expression, and blinking, as though flashing messages by Aldis lamp, the senior air hostess said menacingly, "Dawson, have you forgotten, already, what I said to you earlier? About your Satisfaction of Conduct report? You are already in enough trouble ... So you had better do what I tell you. And you had better do it now -- immediately! Or else!"
Snapping out of it, at last, the browbeaten, intimidated, now almost cringing Danny replied respectfully, "Yes ... Miss Julie."
Danny then complied accordingly: lying down exactly as Chief Stewardess Julie Davies had instructed him, upon the poolside-recliner-like contraption -- Air Purification Technician Service Vehicle D.
"You too, Wallace!" ordered air hostess Carol, sharply addressing Danny's former best school chum, Al. "Come on! Chop chop! Get yourself onto this one, next to Dawson," she snapped, pointing to Service Vehicle C. "Come on, Wallace! Quickly! We haven't got all day!" she said waspishly.
And, following air hostesses Julie and Carol's authoritative examples, air hostesses Ann and Diane similarly supervised Eric Pierce and Kelvin Costello onto their service vehicles, too.
Alan, having enough sense to know there was no point in resisting; that no possible good -- only harm -- could come from his rocking the boat, followed Danny's example, quietly and without fuss. "Yes, Miss Carol," he replied compliantly.
And Eric and Kelvin followed suit: showing respect, and quietly submitting to the authority of air hostesses Ann and Diane, giving them no more trouble than Danny and Alan had given, to their ... handlers.
After all, what would be the point, in their showing dissent? In making things unnecessarily difficult for the air hostesses? In annoying, their ... handlers? They certainly didn't want Chief Stewardess Julie Davies blotting their copy-books for them. They didn't want her making due note; officially recording, in fact, their lack of cooperation, resistance -- outright obstruction, even -- when she wrote up their Satisfaction of Conduct reports.
Not that it had been easy, for Danny's three former school pals to respectfully comply with the orders so peremptorily issued to them, by the bossy, standing-for-no-nonsense, power-going-straight-to-their-heads, air hostesses.
Because it hadn't.
For, listening to his friends' strained, through-gritted-teeth voices, Danny knew just what their servile obedience; their meek compliance, must have cost them.
Danny knew that, under their breath, Alan, Eric and Kelvin would be cursing the air hostesses. Under the surface, they would be seething with indignation; boiling over, with maddening, impotent outrage, as they obeyed the harshly issued orders of the air hostesses -- as they lay down on their backs, upon the slyly-inspired contraptions that awaited them.
While Danny, on the other hand, was experiencing very different emotions.
Being ordered about, bossed around, snapped at and talked down to -- bullied -- by the strict, no-nonsense, authoritative air hostesses, Danny was finding the whole thing rather exciting. To his astonishment, Danny found that he was actually enjoying himself.
With an air of brisk, economy-of-movement efficiency, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies and her three colleagues set about their task: firmly securing Danny and his three former classmates aboard their service vehicles; restraining them with the five sturdy leather straps, by their wrists, ankles, and neck.
Now, the four Sunshine Holidays air hostesses were left with just one final -- and, most important ... final touch, to complete their task.
Crouching beside Danny, and looking down on him, with a smile of pleasure and gratification, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies firmly pressed a strip of adhesive tape over his mouth -- almost fatteninng his lips for him from the deliberate excess of pressure she applied to the task. Experimentally, with her forefinger and thumb, the senior air hostess pinched Danny's nostrils firmly closed ... Then, after a few seconds, at Danny's bug-eyed and panicky reaction of, "Nnnnn! Nnnnnnn!!" she let go, satisfied that she had sealed Danny's mouth airtight. Smiling even more widely now, she patted Danny's cheeks with her fingertips and said pleasantly, "Have a nice flight, Dawson."
Now, after having securely strapped Danny aboard Service Vehicle D, by his ankles, wrists, and neck, and having sealed his mouth airtight, Chief Stewardess Julie Davies gleefully consigned Danny to his fate.
With the leather sole of her right, uniform issue, two-inch heeled, dark-blue pump shod foot, the senior air hostess pushed Air Purification Technician Service Vehicle D, now bearing the securely strapped-down, taped-over-mouthed Danny, back on track -- back, onto the grooved rails that ran along the under-seat space of the Flying Pencil's fuselage.
She then replaced and secured the panel, closing off from view, under-seat space entrance D.
Air hostesses Carol, Ann, and Diane, having also performed their own ... pre-flight preparations, all was now ready.
Task accomplished, the four Sunshine Holidays air hostesses looked at each other, and smiled -- in pleasure and gratification -- upon a job well done.
Air Purification Technicians: Dawson, Wallace, Pierce, and Costello, were now On Station.
Each of the four Air Purification Technician Service Vehicles were dedicated to serving their own line of passenger seats: lines A, B, C, and D. Each line, comprised of 50 seats.
There were four system keypads. Each numeric keypad, controlled one of the lines of 50 seats. The four keypads were individually lettered: A, B, C, and D. And they were numbered from 0-9.
Now, each of the four air hostesses pressed a keypad's 'ON' button -- Chief Stewardess Julie Davies, pressing the 'ON' button on keypad D.
And, when a green light came on and glowed softly, on each of the four keypads, the faces of the four air hostesses glowed softly, too -- with pleasure and gratification. For, the four green lights indicated to them that the recently installed S.A.P.S. -- 'Supplementary Air Purification System' -- was now activated, and fully operational.
The S.A.P.S. was designed so that, by the simple means of a push of a button (located under the right armrest of every passenger seat), female passengers could summon the services of an Air Purification Technician.
At his being summoned, the Air Purification Technician would arrive just as soon as he became available -- subject to the in-sequence order of demand -- and he would then remain in service at that particular seat location, for a fixed-period duration of ten minutes.
Then, after this ten-minute, fixed-period duration was up, via the S.A.P.S. computer, the Air Purification Technician's service vehicle would then automatically convey him to the seat location of his next female summoner.
For seats occupied by male passengers, via the four S.A.P.S. keypads, this facility would be routinely deactivated by cabin crew for the duration of the flight. For instance: upon an air hostess seeing that seat 27 A was occupied by a male passenger, she would simply press numbers 2 and 7 on system keypad A, and then press the red 'Deactivate' button.
And, air hostesses Carol, Ann, and Diane had performed this routine procedure, whilst awaiting the arrival of Chief Stewardess Julie Davies -- and, of course, the four Air Purification Technicians.
It was almost pitch-black, in the under-seat spaces of the Flying Pencil's fuselage, and Danny and his three fellow Air Purification Technicians could hardly see a thing, as the Sunshine Holidays jet-liner continued to trundle towards the runway ... Until Chief Stewardess Julie Davies pushed the S.A.P.S's lights 'ON' button, and then a number of bare, low-wattage light bulbs, that were affixed to support spars, and spaced at about twenty-feet intervals along the under-section of the aircraft's narrow fuselage, began to emit their dismal, almost ineffectual glows.
Danny's eyes slowly adjusted to the dim lighting of the under-seat space of line D and, what he could gradually see, of the shadowy, cramped -- claustrophobic -- confines of the Flying Pencil's gloomy nether regions, didn't exactly make for a pretty sight. In fact, at beholding the bare workings of the modifications ("A remarkable feat of improvisational ingenuity."), in the austere -- dungeon-like -- bowels of the he aircraft, Danny almost wished that the lights (such as they were!) hadn't come on at all.
Danny tried to move his head to his right. He wanted to see his former best schoolmate, Al, who was occupying Service Vehicle C, beside him. And he also wanted to see across to his other former school chums, Eric and Kelvin, over on the port side of the aircraft's cramped fuselage, who were occupying Service Vehicles A, and B, respectively.
But Danny found that he couldn't move his head; found that he could only see Alan, in his peripheral vision, and not see Eric and Kelvin at all. His head was stuck fast; immovable. Firmly secured, by the contraption's sturdy leather neck-strap; the top of his head, tightly enclosed by the rubber lining ("... to cushion your head, and to keep it in place during turbulence, so you'll be all nice and comfy."), at the front of Service Vehicle D.
Suddenly the note of the Flying Pencil's twin engines began to rise, rapidly escalating in pitch to a screaming crescendo as Captain Simon Rogers ("Good old Buck!") boosted them to their full throttle, take-off power.
In the aircraft's under-seat space, the ensuing vibrations were terrific; the tremors, rattling the runners under Danny's and his fellow Air Purification Technicians' service vehicles -- almost rattling the feckless foursome's very bones, as they lay supine upon the hard plastic, unyielding surfaces of their cruelly-conceived contraptions.
With the hellish noise; his sense of rocketing acceleration, and his sense of orientation all out of kilter, Danny's heart was in his mouth.
And, as the jumps and bolts and jolts of the aircraft's wheels grew ever more alarming as it hurtled down the runway towards take-off speed, Danny wondered if his three former school pals were as scared-half-to-death as he was. Of course, none of them could speak -- the air hostesses had seen to that: sealing their mouths shut with adhesive tape -- but he would have bet his first week's unemployment benefit payment, that they were!
A few highly anxious -- hair-raising! -- moments later, Danny felt the upward tilt of the aircraft as the nose-wheels left the runway and, a moment after that, the alarming jumps and bumps and jolts ceased altogether as the Sunshine Holidays jet-liner finally became airborne; the Flying Pencil beginning to climb towards its cruising altitude for the flight to Corfu -- 30,000 feet.