“I don't care if you have the fire department, the military and the elevator people on their way.
You are the building manager.
You have a key to that little hole in the top of the elevator door and you had better find it and get my son out of there NOW or there will be hell to pay.”


       I gaped as I watched my normally calm level headed wife stomp off to the stairwell to check on our other children in our condo on the 5th floor.
Deciding to play 'good cop' to her 'bad cop' I turned to the building manager and said, “You'd better do as she says, she may come back armed and she's a dead shot when she's riled.”

       It was just one more thing to add to an already frightening day.
We had moved to Toronto a few months earlier when I was given a promotion and a veiled threat that if I didn't take it I would never get another promotion.
Managing to only buy a condo had not pleased us since we had sold a beautiful 2 level house with a garden in order to move out of an area we loved but false promises of wealth had prompted us to start a new life.

       The death of my father in law, who was still in his fifties, had taken us by surprise resulting in a hurried trip back to Vancouver. Still knowing no-one in Toronto we had hired a live in Nanny recommended by my company to stay with our 4 children while we were gone.

      The night before returning we had phoned the kids and got the impression from our 13 year old that things were not completely ok so our mood was not good as we entered the Vancouver airport that morning and, although we had flown many times and never bought extra flight insurance, we immediately headed to the booth without even discussing it.
This was before the time of high security in airports so we boarded the 747 without a problem and, only 30 minutes late, we took off.

      As we were passing over the area we still considered home the plane suddenly leveled off and the captain announced that we were returning to the airport because of a warning light on one of the cargo doors.
The plane banked in such a tight turn that we were staring straight at the ground through the window and soon we were touching down at the airport once more.
After being held captive in the 747 without air conditioning for another 2 hours we once more taxied to the runway and took off.
Although I never voiced my concerns the bad feeling I had about this flight had now grown worse and I now knew the safety procedures by heart as well as knowing exactly how many seats to the exits in both directions. Only later did I find out that my wife had done the same.

       The flight over the Rockies was as disturbing as it was interesting because we were flying at a much lower altitude than normal.
The cabin crew were not helping by walking up and down the aisles with fixed smiles on there faces nodding to everyone as they passed as though this was the normal thing they did on this flight. There was a constant hissing sound coming from below which could have been something to do with air resistance at the lower altitude or something much worse but the cabin crew just went on smiling and walking.

      Once past the Rockies our altitude reduced even more and I noticed something that I knew was supposed to be normal on a 747 but not something I was happy about. The wings were flapping. I knew that they were built to take this stress but I figured it would be something to be avoided if at all possible. On this flight it was not to be and we flapped the rest of the way.

       I am sure our landing at Toronto was text book but again something I had never experienced. We approached with nose very high until the wheels hit and only then leveled off to slow down.
When we got to the gate the front door was opened for us all to disembark but a side door was also opened and we saw an army of Air Canada mechanics waiting to get in.
We never did find out anything else about that flight but a month later an aircraft crashed because a cargo door had blown off during flight. It was not a 747 so I dismissed the connection but 8 years later a cargo door did blow off a 747 and it was discovered that there was, in fact, a design flaw in the locking mechanism and had caused 4 other 747s to crash.

Flight 811 showing hole cause by cargo door blowing off in flight after leaving Miami.

      We had no luggage so we went straight to our car and drove home only to find a mass of people milling in the lobby.
Our daughter was there and said that the elevator was stuck and Mike had been in there for 30 minutes now.

      The building manager, not being privy to the events of our day so far, was taken aback by my wife's outburst but he followed my advice and found the key to open the elevator door in less than 5 minutes.

       With Mike free again we headed up the stairs and I was hoping we could put this day behind us but it was not to be.

      My wife had paid the nanny who had left immediately and when we arrived the story of child abuse was just emerging. Luckily David our 13 year old was not about to allow this woman to get away with too much but before he decided to say “Enough is enough” she had already made Mike eat an omelet and sent Scott, our 2 year old, to bed without his security blanket or his teddy bear.
       Mike is allergic to eggs and had thrown up immediately and since we moved Scott wouldn't sleep without his blanket and Teddy, both facts we had made very plain to the nanny before leaving.
       She took them with her to a seedy part of town while she handled her own business but David had physically stopped the unprovoked spanking and phoned the only number he knew. My boss's secretary at work had not been happy about the call but had driven straight over and read the riot act to the nanny.
       My wife had wondered why she was in such a hurry get her money and leave.

- - -

       Maybe it was that day or maybe it was the fact that in 6 months we had not found one person to call friend or maybe it was my wife's asthma acting up in the extra heat and humidity or maybe it was that potatoes were 59 cents a pound and only 17 Cents in Vancouver but 6 months was all we could take before moving back to our beloved BC.