"Pollo or pasta?" Delta Flight 980's attendant (Bogota to Atlanta) asked.
Pasta, por favor. Gracias.
No sooner had Marc Anthony (the attendant--he was a dead-ringer for Latin American sining star Marc Anthony) handed me my foil-wrapped plate of warm pasta, he jumped back and dove across the lap of a man sitting in the aisle seat one row forward. A young woman, a girl, was jumping about in her seat. Her mother, in my row, was sitting to my left. The girl was frantically trying to get her mom's attention.
She was choking.
Marc Anthony wrapped his arms around her torso and dragged her across the lap and tray of the man sitting along the aisle. Once in the aisle, the both of them faced the rear of the plane. Marc Anthony behind her and with his arms gripped tightly around her abdomen.
It began. One sharp pull upwards. A second. A third followed.
I was in shock taking in so much in only a moment's time. I looked into the girl's eyes.
The upward pulls continued. I lost track of time or how many maneuvers occurred, but I was not enjoying my front row seat observing the asphyxiation of a young woman.
"C'mon, Marc Anthony! Dislodge it already!!" and "Hang on, girl!" I urged in my mind.
Then, finally, a plop of partially chewed poultry landed in the aisle--just an inch from my left foot.
The girl gasped and drew in large breaths of compressed cabin air.
Tears of relief. Tears of fear. Tears of gratefulness. I'm not sure what kind of tears they were, but I felt them too. And I also gulped air--I don't think I breathed as long as the incident occurred.
I had sat there, still. Watching. Like a statue. Not breathing.
The girl and her mother were then whisked to the front of the plane where the attendants administered additional care. Ten minutes passed. The girl and her mother, with their still tear-streaked faces, returned to their seats.
Another minute or two passed and the attendant returned to his normal duties. He returned to my row and said, "Pardon me. Now where was I?"
All I could reply was, "Well done, Marc Anthony. Well done."
(Except I didn't say Marc Anthony, but I sure was thinking it!)
Delta, please find a way to acknowledge the quick and precise life-saving technique of Douglas. I didn't catch his last name, but if you've read this far, you know who he looks like. ;)