It was a short flight from Houston to Dallas. It was in one of those flying tubes that would start descent before even the take off is complete. There was no way to sleep in this flight and so I did not mind sitting next to the young mother with her three month old baby. I was in that blissful state where one has not slept yet but is not fully awake either, when the commotion started.
I was in the rear of the plane and the hostess picked up the phone and called the other two in the front. One of them hurried back with a big plastic bag. Out of the bag came masks and gloves. The masks were not simple piece of cloth around your mouth kind. These were heavy duty. They covered the nose and mouth and even had a transparent sheet to protect the eyes. The gloves covered almost till the elbows.
It looked like there was a chemical attack and the hostesses were taking care of themselves first so that they can move around to help the passengers. I was trying to hold my breath till I was given a mask and wondering if that mask is good enough to ward off whatever chemical has been released. But instead of more masks and gloves, the hostesses took out a bottle and sprayed what looked like salt on the carpet.
Then came a small plastic tray and scoop, the kind people carry when they walk their dog. The salt that was sprayed was carefully removed on to the tray and the tray scoop masks and gloves were put into a plastic bag and sealed. The hostesses then took out a vial of sanitizer and cleaned their hands thoroughly. As a final flourish a darker substance, that smelled like coffee was sprayed lightly on the carpet.
There was no chemical attack. All that happened was that the baby had thrown up a little bit of milk and it was cleaned. A little bit of coffee powder was sprayed to mask the smell. I was just amazed by the drama with which the entire cleaning was done. All it required was a couple of paper napkins. Just imagining what would be used in case of a real chemical attack.