It is a cold and rainy Thursday afternoon on Manchester Airport. The flight I took from Amsterdam just landed and rolls to its gate. At the left side, a man in a yellow coat waits until the aircraft has stopped and then places a safety cone underneath the tip of the wing. Apparently, the people in the back rows are soon allowed to leave through the back door and walk over the platform. The man will stay out there and direct us to walk around the cone, avoiding the area under the wing. At least, that was what I expected. But the cone wasn’t enough.
What happened next must have been the result of mixing up working schedules, a lengthy health and safety meeting, and some lady taking the wrong bus to work.
Out came a woman, dressed in a skirt and high heels, hiding herself in a high visibility overcoat with cap and pushing an unidentified rolling device towards the wing. With her big pair of glasses halfway her nose she was the complete opposite of the usually broad shouldered male platform employees. And so she acted.
The device contained a long red line of which she took the far end and walked cautiously to the stairs at the back door of the plane. She attached the line that did not want to follow the course she tried to force it into. Then she walked back, rolling up the line with a winch until it hung about a metre above the ground, fluttering in the wind. Not an easy job, you know. The line got stuck halfway rolling it up, so she had to redress it again.
All this took place at a comically low speed – or do seconds take longer when you are waiting to alight a plane? Our platform lady should probably have been at her desk in a lawyers’ office. But for some reason she ended up on the platform of Manchester Airport on this particular Thursday.