My flight left Belgrade, Serbia at an ungodly hour in the morning. Having stayed out until far too late in the night, the alarm clock went off only an hour or two after my head hit the pillow. Somehow I manipulated Tyler into taking me to the airport. If he ever talks to me again, I will consider him inhuman.
I had a layover in Amsterdam where they made us go through a separate round of security checks that involved far and away the most intrusive frisking I have ever experienced in my entire life. I've had colonoscopies that felt less intimate. NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT COLONOSCOPIES ARE, CATHIE.
I stood in line behind an elderly American couple who were also awaiting their friskings. I was holding an exceptionally heavy amount of garbage at the time. Stuff I had collected in Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Serbia without ever thinking about how on Earth I would get it home. My arms were tired and I was trying very hard to make the amount of items look as minimal as possible so nobody would stop me from carrying them onto the plane.
And then I saw the elderly man in front of me begin to wobble. It seemed odd. But I recognized the symptoms from having had similar experiences in the past.
Seconds before he went down I dropped everything in my hands and lunged forward, catching him in a bear hug. He was a larger man and pretty heavy, and almost in slow-motion the two of us went to the ground together. He lay on his back, convulsing ever so slightly, and totally unaware of his surroundings.
The people standing around us in line quickly backed away as this man's wife stood by and watched her husband.
You guys. I'm not a doctor. I have no idea what to do in any situation involving medical needs. I have taken the CPR training course like 2,000 times in my life and I still don't think I know how to do CPR. Or know when you're even supposed to do CPR. I am absolutely not the right person to have in a situation like this.
Implicitly, I began taking his pulse and snapping my fingers in front of his eyes, probably because this is what I've seen people do on TV. I don't know why I took his pulse. As though I was going to diagnose his problem based on this information.
I asked his wife whether he had any medical conditions. She said that he did not and that he was very healthy. I asked her a few other questions. She sort of answered them.
A woman who worked at the airport came over and I asked her to call someone to help. She did this, and then stood by. And then I heard this wife, while her husband continued to convulse on the ground, say a very strange thing:
"Are we going to still be able to make it onto this flight?"
She looked at her watch when she asked the question and she sounded annoyed.
No one really responded to it.
The man then regained consciousness and started talking, asking what had happened. Just then a doctor arrived. I stood, gathered my things, walked by the woman who didn't make eye contact with me, and proceeded through security.
Twenty minutes or so later, the couple emerged from security as well and took two seats next to where I was sitting.
I expected the woman to say something to me. To acknowledge this very strange and stressful experience we had just shared. This did not happen right away. She casually talked to her husband about whether or not he had been drinking enough water and whether he was hurt during the fall (he said he wasn't).
And then, finally, she turned and looked at me. She opened her mouth to say something.
"Here it is." I thought. "We're finally going to have a conversation. A normal interaction about this very strange thing that just happened."
"Looks like you are trying to carry on a lot of stuff onto this plane," she noted. "I hope we're not sitting close to you."
I just don't know anymore.
Here are some videos of me wandering Eastern Europe at night.
~It Just Gets Stranger