Thursday, June 11, 2009


Almost forgot to tell everyone about our most unusual reception upon arriving in Shanghai. As you know, there was much ado about the H1N1 virus (swine flu) splashed over every major news outlet. Upon the break out and breaking news, the Chinese government put extreme measures in place to protect its citizens from the reported pandemic. Even when there isn't an over-hyped, over the top, media driven catastrophe it is customary to see Chinese routinely wearing dust masks. Air quality in their big cities is of the poorest of quality. Most days the sun is filtered through a brown-gray smog (I found it impossible to wear contacts while there). Also the past pandemic of the "Bird flu" heightened the fear of airborne deceases and that led to extra precaution. Glancing up the hundreds of passengers, as they filed in and stowed their carry on luggage, many identities were concealed behind beige and white masks.

So . . .

When our plane taxied to the gate in Shanghai a little surprise awaited. As the door opened at the front, left side of the cabin, in rushed 3 very serious looking men and one woman. Each was sealed inside a pristine, white haz-mat suit, and their oxygen was being supplied by air packs -- ours could not be trusted. Methodically, they went row by row pointing a laser at the forehead of every passenger. The flight attendants told us not to worry about the infra-red slash across our brow (yeah, that worked), and informed us that the laser was being used to scan for fevers. We were told that if one person was carrying an elevated temperature, and considered a potential carrier of H1N1 virus, the entire plane would be quarantined for seven hours -- or just long enough to find a large holding place to quarantine several hundred for 7 days!

As the Chinese version of the Ghost Busters squeezed their bulky bodies down the aisle toward me, I thought about the last 14 hours we had just endured with the darling little marathon screamer -- the one who pushed every passenger to the brink of insanity. I thought that even though it was but a remote one, it was still within the realm of possibility that I could end up being hellboy's cell mate for 7 days!

I gave serious consideration to making a run for it. But I remained cool -- just like every forehead on the aircraft!

1 comment:

  1. You are an amazing writer, very descriptive. I feel that I am write there with you sharing every moment. I feel your pain with the MARATHON SCREAMER. Can you talk about the the questions that were asked by the students and also the topics of discussion?

    Excited about the adventure!

    Sean Britt