She looked at her watch and tapped her foot compulsively. She was too anxious to notice that there was something very off about this plane’s delay. What could be happening? Then, the flight attendants were whispering, and suddenly she saw the flash of “SECURITY” as their boots thumped past her, down the aisle.
A lot of passengers were flying that day, and with them was Tracy. She was always a nervous flyer and she was starting to feel on edge. She sat down between two strangers, glancing at her watch, annoyed. It looked like this plane’s takeoff was running late. Then 20 minutes turned into 30, and then 40.
Tracy couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right on this flight. Usually, planes are delayed due to bad weather conditions, but today the skies were clear. She tried to find a flight attendant to ask about the delay, but there were none in sight. Then, she heard nervous whispering. What was going on?
After 45 minutes the plane hadn’t moved. Then, Tracy spotted the cabin crew, and they were acting strangely. There was a secretive flurry of activity as they all rushed to huddle in a corner of the plane. What was going on? Soon, Tracy would realize that they were talking about one of the passengers.
Suddenly, the cabin crew shut the doors closed with a snap. Tracy was trying to remain calm, but she couldn’t contain the shivers that went up and down her spine. She wanted to get off the plane, but she was trapped. She clawed uselessly at the window. The air was becoming cloying, and the other passengers started to feel it, too.
An hour had passed and the passengers had started to realize that something was wrong. Chaos started to erupt on the plane as people started to panic, and the fear was catching. Craning to see the cabin crew, she saw their worried faces. Then, four security guards rushed past her.
From where she was seated, she could see the security guards gather around one passenger. Tracy had no idea what was going on, but it looked like this was the cause for the delay. A few minutes passed, and the security guards remained still as if waiting for something. All signs pointed to trouble.
The yellow-vested security guards parted for a second, and then Tracy saw the man they were huddled around. He was standing in the aisle. Tracy had become more and more nervous, she needed answers, and
she needed them fast. She asked a flight attendant what was happening, but she rushed past her without an answer. Then, Tracy heard an announcement over the loudspeaker. It was the pilot, and he sounded agitated.
“Everybody, please remain calm. We believe we have the threat under control. Please remain in your seats.” What was going on? She wasn’t going to wait for answers anymore, so she got out of
her seat and boldly approached the group of security guards. The scene unfolded before her and she saw what was happening. The elderly man would not, or could not, move. He was frozen in place.
Tracy snapped a photo as the security guards huddled around him, moving slowly and deliberately. They told him to raise his hands above his head, but the man remained still, in defiance. The situation was growing tense. The
security guards stood with their muscles sprung tight as they readied themselves. The man was shaking his head. He refused to be seated. His eyes were wide, and he was clearly terrified. Suddenly, the pilot strode down the aisle.
The pilot turned and gruffly stated that the man should be escorted off the plane and taken into custody. Threat or no threat, he didn’t want to wait to find out. But Tracy knew that this man needed medical assistance—it was clear
that there was something very wrong. So she told the security guards to step aside. Reluctantly, they parted to let her through. She reassured the man that she was there to help, but he didn’t seem to understand. Then, she realized why.
Tracy started forming words with her fingers, and the man’s face relaxed with relief. He was deaf, and he seemed disoriented and confused. Tracy asked for his ID in American Sign Language, and he pulled out his
ID card from his pocket. His name was Joseph Zeledon. She asked the man for contact details of his family members, but he just stared at her blankly. Then, she saw a glint when he moved his wrist.
Tracy quickly realized that Joseph was wearing a medical alert bracelet. She motioned for him to give her his hand, and she saw the word “Dementia” engraved on it. She turned it around and looked
for a number she could call. The poor man didn’t know where he was, or what he was doing on a plane. Thankfully, there was a phone number on the bracelet, so she dialed it.
A Phone Number
She held her breath as the phone rang and counted the seconds…one…two…three…and then, someone answered with a “hello?” It was Joseph’s son. Tracy hurriedly explained the situation to him, and he agreed to get there as fast as he could. But where had Joseph been going?
Joseph’s son, Jason, was sick with worry. His father had been diagnosed with dementia but had never wandered off and gotten lost before. What was he doing boarding a flight by himself? Jason had rushed to the airport in a blind panic. He arrived
an hour later, and when he saw his father in the lobby, safely in the care of Tracy and the passengers from the plane, his heart ached with gratitude. They had all pulled together to take care of him and had missed their flight!