Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Over the Pole

So much for the magic of technology. Last night was one of horrors.

I walked away from my desk, from watching the arc of the flight route across the Hudson Bay toward the North Pole, my sweet precious love of my life, my Charlie being transported to his new life across the world, when it happened. Three and a half hours after departure from New York's Kennedy airport.

The smooth white and green dotted line careened to a halt. A solid white line veering in a 45 degree angle due south-west. To a point in the Cascade Mountains near Spokane. And stopped. Zero MPH. Zero foot altitude.

Refresh page. Nothing changed. Again. Nada. Same white line. Same ending point. Same stats.

My heart jolted to a screeching halt. A buzzing filled my head. My ears rang dull.

Frantic calls to Cathay Pacific went unanswered. After hours in the U.S. A deep thud in my gut. My boy. My precious heart.

As the sound came back into my racing mind I methodically Googled the FAA equivalent in Hong Kong. The airport there. They would know. Simultaneously I opened the website for CNN and the Seattle Times for news that would at once rock my world and silence my being. Nothing. Not yet. Too soon perhaps.

Phone calls across the globe yielded nothing. No information. No one in a position to know anything. "That is not on our screens. Call so-and-so at such-and-such. Have a nice day."

A software error? Computer malfunction? Out of range? Or, worse?

Panic oozed sour in my mouth. Paralysis gripped my muscles. My head buzzed with a palpable fear. One apprehensive minute after another dripped by slowly. Achingly. For eleven hours in the black of the night.

Ringggggggggggggggg. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. A pre-requested text message arrives on my Motorola RazR. Flight 481 has arrived on time in Hong Kong.

The correct trajectory. The planned flight path followed. An errant glitch in a faraway computer wreaking havoc with me, my sister and brother-in-law. Caused perhaps by a stealth surveillance of another transoceanic flight to Europe with alleged terrorists aboard.

Modern technology be damned. No more following flights moment-by-moment. Never again. Ever.

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