I sat up in bed laughing and shaking my head, happy that I’d woken up before my dream became a nightmare.
In the dream, I’d boarded a plane to attend an economic conference in Switzerland. Representatives of the big economic powers sat forward in business-class; those of smaller countries sat on the rear side of a partition, in tourist.
As the US representative, I had one of the forward seats, beside China, across the aisle from Japan and Germany, and just ahead of India and Russia. Everyone wore some sort of costume related to their national identity. Mine was a red Ohio State football jersey, complete with shoulder pads, and a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. My Chinese seatmate wore a long, loose garment, white with full open sleeves, and a green, Chairman Mao cap with a red star above the visor. Looking back, I saw turbans, a Samurai helmet, veils, Arabian headdress, and other covers and hair embellishments.
As our plane pulled away from the terminal, a German flight attendant came around with a menu. The China representative beside me called the flight attendant over and offered a stack of renminbi to be first served. She pocketed the money, whereupon the Chinese ordered multiple servings of everything on the menu. When the attendant pointed out that our flight only included one meal serving, he offered more renminbi and his credit card. The Japanese across the aisle thought this improper as did the Indian behind me, but the German and Russian reps vetoed their complaints.
Food service began shortly after takeoff with food piling up around the Chinese, along with full beverage service. The rest of the passengers got crackers or nuts in cellophane wrappers and bottled water. Grumbling from the tourist section drifted forward, but for several minutes, everyone contented themselves with their cellophane treats. Then the Iranian rep came forward. He bowed, handed over a basket of rial banknotes, and carried back a contoured tray with a chicken breast, a biscuit, a chocolate graham cracker, and a plastic-covered cup of tea.
The Chinese ate quickly and seemed to gain both appetite and bulk as he ate. An Italian stewardess brought the next round and, after collecting her own stash of renminbi, never looked at another passenger.
Soon more in business- and tourist-class came forward with ever increasing offers, paying several times what the food might have cost and forgetting that it had already been included in the fare.
The Chinese beside me, now double his original size, tore out of his clothing and poured over the armrest into my seat. When I slid over, he raised the seat arm, which immediately increased his flow. Pushed far out into the aisle, I left my seat, walked to the back, and stood beside the restroom door. The food cavalcade and money transfer continued, as did the growing girth of my former seatmate. The Japanese came to join me standing, then an Indian lady in a green sari. Threatened with suffocation from the growing bulk of bare flesh, soon everyone in business-class was in the back and the passage from business- to tourist-class entirely block by a broad, bare behind.
Lights blinked in the cabin then went off. The red fasten-seatbelt sign came on with a BING. As the plane went into a steep dive, oxygen masks dropped over the seats. Those of us standing wedged wherever we could.
I awoke startled, heart pounding, and dizzy from my dreamed freefall.
Whew, I thought, what if I hadn’t awakened?